Save Your Dog From Joint Pain, Forever!

Health, last updated 09th, Oct 2020, DogSpot

We love all things dog. In our endeavour to bring education to pet parents, we collaborated with Canine Behaviourist, Trainer and, Founder of PawsRUs, Sayli Rajadhyaksha. In conversation with #HumansofDogSpotMussarat Kang to speak about joint and muscle pain, and arthritis in dogs. Read on more insights.

Whenever anyone says joint pain, we only think of humans. Majority of Indians, tend to suffer from arthritis as they grow old. But this problem is prevalent in the dog world too! Many of our four-legged friends can and do go through acute pain due to joint and muscle problems. Keeping in mind, the language barrier we have with our dogs, its best to watch out for the signs because prevention is better than cure!


Universal Joint and Muscle Problems Among Dogs

Some of the most common injuries or problems dogs tend to get are Hip Dysplasia, Disk Prolapse and an ACL injury. 

Hip Dysplasia is basically the malformation if the hip. It is a deformity of the hip which happens during the growth years of the dog. Hip dysplasia happens when the head of the femur and the socket in the pelvis, also known as acetabulum, do not grow at a uniform rate. It is more common in bigger dogs.

Disk Prolapse occurs when too much weight or pressure is put on the spine of the dog. The simpler term for this is Slip Disk. This pressure leads the disk to herniate or move from its actual place to push the spinal cord, causing immense pain and discomfort. In severe cases, it can even lead to paralysis. 

An ACL injury is the breaking or tearing of the ligament of the knee. It happens due to trauma or stress on the ligament due to pulling or jumping. It is the rupturing of the cranial cruciate ligament of your dog.

Symptoms to Keep An Eye On

Since dogs cannot directly tell us what they are going through or the discomfort they are feeling; it is best to have a keen eye towards your dog.

  • Watch the way your dog is walking
  • If she can get up immediately or needs help in getting up
  • Whether your dog is walking on all fours proportionately or favouring any limb
  • In case of extreme pain, your dog might become lethargic and may give up eating

If you feel that your dog is exhibiting any one of the symptoms mentioned above, then a trip to the vet is due. 

Joint Problems in Small Breeds

The most common joint problem dogs belonging to smaller breeds face Slipping Patella. Patella is a knee cap which is present in both humans and dogs. When the patella loses its central alignment and slips to the left or the right, this injury is caused. A very severe and recurrent slipping patella may require surgery. However, a one-time episode can be cured by the right exercise. Breeds like Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Terriers are very susceptible to it.

Dachshunds especially face this because they are long. The moment their weight grows, the centre of gravity changes, and there is immense pressure on their spine. 

Importance of Weight Management for Stronger Joints

Maintaining your dog’s weight is a task difficult for many dog parents. We tend to show our love by giving a few extra bits to eat or a cheat meal here and there. It is advisable to express your love and affections by actions more than giving extra food. Actions here would mean, watching your dog’s body weight and making sure she doesn’t gain extra pounds which could overburden her spine and legs and cause her harm.

Be cautious of overfeeding and its effects. In bigger breeds, the tendency to gain weight is higher, resulting in a change in the biomechanics of the joints. The muscles gain extra fat, putting pressure on the bones leading to problems like arthritis. Optimum weight is essential. Since arthritis cannot be cured, it is best to keep it under control and not let it worsen. 

Nutrition plays a significant role in weight management of your fur friend. While watching your dog’s weight, do not cut out on the nutrition she needs. Keep in mind that your dog needs animal protein. Vegetables are also essential to give your dog’s muscle and joint the strength she needs. Chicken feet are incredibly high in glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are essential for joint health.

If your dog is suffering from severe joint pain or inflammation in the muscles, then you can supplement her food with the capsules called Green Lipped Muscles. It is rich in omega-3 fats and anti-oxidants and will strengthen your dog’s joints. Veggies like spinach, pumpkin and zucchini can be included in your dog’s diet.

You should limit the intake of sugar in your dog’s diet. Fruits like mango and banana should be given but in a limited amount.

Physiotherapy in Dogs

Just like us, dogs like a good massage too! And when suffering from joint or muscle trouble, if there can be an alternative to pushing a pill down your dog’s throat, then it should be explored. There are various methods of doing physiotherapy in dogs. It depends on the kind of injury or problem your dog has.

Electrotherapy Modalities

These are symptomatic treatments and provide pain relief. These include – 

  • Ultrasound- This is a therapeutic ultrasound.
  • High-Level Lasers- these help in wound healing and inflammation.
  • Ice packs and Heat Pads- Ice packs are used on acute injuries, whereas a warm heat pad is used for milder injuries. In degeneration of bones, heat pads work best.

Exercise Therapy

Exercise therapy includes the use of a Swiss ball to train the dog to bear her weight on her hind legs. It also has exercises which mobilize joints. This is very useful in post-trauma or post-surgery in dogs. Even in Hip Dysplasia, stretching techniques help in mobilizing the joints. 

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water in treating your dog’s joints or muscles. It must be kept in mind that the introduction of the pool to your dog should be gradual and smooth. The association with water should be positive. Nowhere should you forcefully push your dog in the water. You must have an in-depth assessment of the problems your dog is facing.

The properties of water help your dog to exercise in an environment where she does not have to bear too much weight. It increases joint flexibility and improves the blood circulation in muscles.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What can be done if a dog is born with Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia is more common in big breeds like Labrador or a St. Bernard. You can make your house safe and ready for bringing a pup belonging to this breed. You must make sure the tile of your floor is not slippery so that she gets a good grip while walking—also, proper nutrition, primarily meat-based protein to thrive in muscle health.

Additional supplements also help. You must check the genetics of the dog, and only then you should get the pup home.

2. How can I help my Labrador who is suffering from arthritis?

First and foremost, you should watch your dog’s weight. An overweight dog with arthritis will be in a lot of pain. So, if your dog’s weight is balanced, the pressure on her spine would not be too difficult to bear. Secondly, you must give your dog the nutrition she needs to promote joint and muscle health.

Thirdly, physiotherapy can provide relief to your dog’s joint pain.

3. How can I prevent my 14-year old Labrador from getting pain in the hind legs during winter?

The best way to prevent this is by giving him a hot water bag to keep his legs warm during night time. You can place it near his hip or on the back. In the morning also, you must first give him a hot water bag again and give a gentle movement to his limbs to loosen the stiff muscles. 

Dogspot.in went live with Sayli Rajadhyaksha, Canine Behaviourist, Trainer and, Founder of PawsRUs in conversation with Mussarat Kang DogSpot.in.

They discussed the need to identify joint and muscle issues at early onset along with the importance of weight management as a preventive measure.

We hope we answered all your queries regarding the topic. In case you have any further questions about the topic, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. An expert will be happy to guide you!

Transcribed by: Naisan Rab

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