In the colder winter months many of us will feel our joints stiffening up a little and it’s no different for our four-legged friends. Muscles and joints tend to weaken in colder weather, with a variety of factors contributing, including a drop in air pressure causing tendons and tissues in the body to expand causing discomfort.
Fortunately pet healthcare experts Bob Martin are on hand to offer some helpful tips and advice on how to look after your dog’s joints throughout their life; not just during those colder winter months.
The colder the temperature, the less likely you are to venture outdoors, however everybody needs exercise to help stretch and warm up their muscles, including your dog. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep your dogs joints healthy from an early age, as joint issues don’t just affect older senior dogs. Many breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds and German Shepherds are naturally more susceptible to joint issues, however the more you look after them when they’re young, the healthier they’ll be when they’re older.
Top Tip: Be careful not to over-exercise your dog, especially when they are a puppy and their joints are still developing. Also limit the amount of jumping they do, avoid stairs and take care when playing with them to not be overly-rough.
Just like with humans, cold, damp and windy conditions can aggravate your dog’s joints. Ensuring that their favourite sleeping places are kept warm is important, as is investing in a decent quality bed for them where they can rest comfortably. Depending on the breed of your dog, you may also want to consider investing in a warm dog coat for walkies when the temperature outside drops.
Top Tip: Look out for early warning signs that your dog may be suffering from joint stiffness. Lagging behind on walks, sleeping more often or a reluctance to go out for a walk could all be early indicators that they are experiencing joint pain or discomfort.
Excess weight puts extra strain on your dog’s joints, so making sure that you’re not over-feeding them and that they’re getting enough exercise is important. In a previous blog, we highlighted that despite only 15% of owners admitting to being concerned about their pets’ weight, 51% of UK dogs are actually overweight.
Small reductions in portion size and increases in exercise can help bring your dog’s weight down to a healthier level and help prevent joint and mobility issues developing over time.
Top Tip: Dogs that are overweight and have mobility issues meaning they struggle to get much exercise may benefit from hydrotherapy. Exercise in water is beneficial to dogs suffering with joint issues as it allows them to exercise without pressure being placed on their joints.
Aside from investing in a good quality comfy bed, there are several other small modifications you can make at home which may make a big difference for your dog if they’re struggling with joint and mobility issues.
Consider installing a stairgate to prevent them from using the stairs, or alternatively invest in a ramp to help them navigate the steps more easily. Also consider placing non-slip mats on any floors like hardwood, tiles or laminate to prevent them from slipping around.
Finally, you could also look at introducing elevated food and water bowls to prevent them from straining.
Feeding your dog a high quality well-balanced diet will help ensure they get all of the essential vitamins and minerals they need to promote healthy joint development. As our pets get older however, healthy eating won’t always be enough and they may benefit from a dietary joint supplement. There are so many supplements to choose from however that sometimes the choice can feel overwhelming, with many brands bamboozling you with science.
The key ingredients you should be looking for (much like human joint supplements) are glucosamine and chondroitin. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are essential for maintaining healthy joints, ligaments, tendons and cartilage in humans and canines alike. What’s more, supplements containing these ingredients are usually pretty affordable so it won’ break the bank to add them to your dog’s regular healthcare routine and could save you a lot of money in the long run on vet bills.
Bob Martin’s sister brand Vetzyme offers a range of helpful supplements to support your four-legged friend in the areas of Joints & Mobility, Calming & Anxiety, Health & Wellbeing and Skin & Coat.
How are you taking care of your dog’s joints?
Share your stories and top tips in the comments below to help others.
For more helpful advice on caring for your pet’s healthcare needs head over to bobmartin.co.uk.