Senior Mutterings… A Note to My Hoomans

Hey. It’s me, Juke.  We’ve been together a loooong time. You say it’s only been a bit over 10 years, but to me it feels more like 80.  You hoomans have always been funny about math and time, but I agree with you on one thing – I’m officially a senior dog.

So, here’s the deal – by now, we get each other. We are way past that pesky phase of me having to train you, when I had to listen to you repeat things over and over.  Although I do miss the extra  treats you used to give me when you finally did something right. We’ve been in a good groove for quite a while.

Even so, there are a few things I feel I need to clarify. Times are changing, and I’d like to continue to enjoy my later years in the style to which I’ve grown accustomed. So be a good hooman, will you, and allow me to point out some important senior pup rules:

  • Hurrying and rushing are no longer something I will do. Meandering and sniffing is my jam.
  • Routines are an even more vital part of my existence. Don’t even think about changing our schedule or how we do things, or I will resort to a sit-in protest, give you side-eye, or worse — use the sad pathetic pup face you hate.
  • Speaking of routines, I will determine the direction of our slow walks. If it is the same loop every day, just go with it. Remember, I weigh 87 pounds, you won’t be able to budge me. Oh, and if I don’t feel like going for a walk, no amount of your pretend excited-voice will get me to go with you. Some days are meant only for resting.
  • I will chase and woof after bunnies and squirrels for a distance of 8 feet. After that, I deem them no longer a threat, and will move into silent observation mode.
  • If I’m feeling especially perky, I will chase the ball. Once. I’m done picking up after you. Besides, after all these years, you have still failed to explain why, if you want the ball, why you throw it in the first place?
  • I live for eating, belly rubs, and butt scratches. Yeah, I know you like the “cute end” better, but you try to reach that spot to itch when you are my age.
  • I snore. Live with it.
  • I’m lumpy. Sure, some of those lumps may be something evil lurking, but most of them are just old man lumps. Just be glad I have fur covering me so I still look cute.
  • I will do my business wherever and whenever the urge strikes. I know for most of my life I’ve deposited my poo in the reserved area of the yard. Well, guess what, I can’t always get there in time now. So watch your step. And really, I’ll never understand why when we are on walks you feel the need to collect and save it. I mean, that’s gross.
  • I will stop in my tracks and blatantly stare at other hoomans who approach, sizing them up and assuming they will do the right thing and stop to introduce themselves to me with pats. I will be totally confused if they ignore me. However, if they are wearing a hat or gloves, I don’t trust them and they should move on by. Quickly.
  • You exist even more than ever to give me comfort and attention. I come first. And I really want whatever is on your plate.
  • Speaking of food, make sure you keep adding that yummy Missing Link powder stuff to my meals. It it tastes really good, makes me look and feel great and makes it easier for me to get up and down the steps. And I gotta still look cool in front of my friends.

I wuv you. Thanks for listening. Now give me my daily treat. In exactly the same spot on the rug as always. You know the rules.

Benefits of Flaxseed for Dogs

When it comes to flaxseed, there are many potential health benefits that can contribute to the increased vitality and well-being of your canine friend, especially as a regular supplement to a healthy diet.

Flaxseed has historically been used for thousands of years in the creation of things like fabrics and linen and other textiles. It has also been used to make linseed oil, otherwise known as flaxseed oil.

The flax plant itself produces little seeds that are golden and brown in color, with a taste that is somewhat nutty in flavor. The seeds can be eaten as-is, although it’s not recommended. In its whole form, it is most likely to pass right through your dog’s system undigested. In fact, they are so stable, they’ve found in-tact flax seeds in Egyptian tombs!

Other ways flax may be eaten is in its ground form, either sprinkled in your dog’s food or encased in a supplemental capsule. Sometimes you may also find certain brands of dog food that have flaxseed already added as a prime ingredient, although most dog foods tend to lack vital nutrients such as those found in flax supplements, so be sure to clearly read the ingredients label.

Fatty Acid Wonders

Flaxseed is an extremely healthy food because they are loaded with essential fatty acids like omega-3. Omega-3 is otherwise known as alpha linolenic acid, or ALA. Flaxseed is also full of dietary fiber, protein, manganese, and lignans.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that has been shown to be an important factor in the good health of a dog and animals in general. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, in particular, contribute to cell function, cell membrane structure, immune function, the health of your dog’s skin and coat, normal reproduction, and even the growth of your dog.

Fatty Acid Ratios

Even more important than mere consumption of essential fatty acids, is the importance of having omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids consumed by your dog in the proper ratios they require, in order to reap the full health benefits.

It is thought that dogs that suffer from autoimmune, allergic, or inflammatory health conditions may benefit from increasing omega-3 fatty acid levels.

Flaxseed Helps Support a Healthy Coat and Hair

One of the first signs you may notice in your dog if his nutrition is suffering is dryness in his skin, and/or a lack of luster in his coat and hair. When a dog is not getting the proper nutrition that its body needs, it manifests itself in the appearance of a dog’s coat.

Hair can appear dull and dry, look wiry, and even develop dandruff and present with skin that is dry and irritated, which can open them up to potential infection. This can happen in dogs that are not eating properly, that are sick from other health conditions, or that are not getting a good balance of essential nutrients from their food source.

Plus, when the lipid barriers of a dog’s skin are reduced, which is what happens when a dog’s natural coat oils get depleted, your dog may run a higher risk of developing skin conditions, especially if they are scratching excessively.

So, supplementing with flaxseed on a regular basis could help with conditions related to the health of your dog’s skin and fur.

Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Joints

The same anti-inflammatory properties of essential fatty acids (i.e. alpha linoleic acid) that aid your dog fighting off skin irritants, could also help your dog’s joints and range of mobility, especially in dog’s that suffer from conditions like canine arthritis.

This means that a regular consumption of adequate doses of flaxseed could provide your dog with relief when it comes to occasional or minor joint problems, as well as help to improve their ability to get around.

Flaxseed Helps Support a Healthy Immune System

Flaxseed also possesses something called lignans. Lignans are antioxidants that can help your dog’s immune system do its job, and further improves your dog’s ability to mitigate inflammation.

This means that your dog may be better able to deal with the pain of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory disorders that affect his joints and decrease his mobility, and even possibly fight off infections that may be related to inflammation.

Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Kidneys

The essential fatty acid omega-3 can also help to reduce kidney inflammation in dogs with kidney disease, by helping your dog produce other anti-inflammatory agents in his body. Reducing inflammation of the kidneys can also help to increase vital blood flow to essential organs, and help your dog keep their lipid levels up so that they produce more triglycerides. This is beneficial for dogs suffering from kidney problems because by elevating their triglycerides, it could help extend the dog’s life.

Flaxseed May Improve the Health of Dogs with Adrenal Issues

 Flaxseed may possess potential for treating dogs with adrenal problems, due to the high content of lignans that are found in flaxseed, especially in the hulls of the seed.

Adrenal issues in dogs is a problem that secretes excess hormones in a dog’s body. It’s a condition that often results from a tumor, either on the pituitary gland or from a tumor of the adrenal glands. Experiments with lignan therapies have been made in an effort to improve and increase a dog’s quality of life, with encouraging results.

Though you can find lignan in many other plant sources, flaxseed appears be the plant that contains the most amounts of it. Flaxseed hulls possess something called SDG lignan, and they contain it in levels that are 20 times higher than the entire rest of the flaxseed, making it a premium source for these valuable, health-supporting agents.

Flaxseed hulls are also loaded with fiber, which is of great benefit to many dogs since being low on fiber is relatively common in canines. This is because a lot of dog foods that are currently available on the market tend to be low in fiber too.  

Because of the high fiber content, it is thought that flaxseeds help to soak up toxins as well as increase the frequency and volume of bowel movements. This makes it easier for a dog to rid itself of harmful waste in a more efficient manner, which may be the reason why it is so helpful in treating dogs with adrenal problems. 

Lignans also perform other functions in a dog’s body related to phytoestrogen activity, and lignan takes the place of estradiol in a dog’s tissue estrogen receptors. Lignans also lower estradiol in their system by inhibiting aromatase enzymes, and lowers cortisol by inhibiting 3-beta HSD enzymes.

Therefore, an increase of flaxseed in a dog’s diet may be a beneficial and effective way to manage the symptoms of a dog suffering from adrenal issues. 

Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Digestion

 Flaxseed is sometimes recommended for dogs that suffer from digestive disorders. Because flaxseed is adaptable, that means it is able to support a dog suffering constipation and support a dog suffering loose stools. However, it must be given in proper and adequate dosages, and every dog is different.

 Generally, stools should appear firm and well-formed if they are healthy. If you notice your dog’s stool becoming softer, or your dog appears to be constipated as a result of giving them flaxseed, you may need to adjust the dosage.

Remember That Flaxseed is a Food

Keep in mind that flaxseed is a food, so there is generally very little risk of negative side effects. This is because you can’t really feed a dog flaxseed in toxic levels. However, if you do happen to feed them a little too much for their bodies to digest properly, it will become evident in your dog’s skin and coat. As far as overfeeding signs to look out for, side effects could be diarrhea and upset stomach. Because flaxseed contains a lot of fiber, it helps your dog’s digestive system clean itself out and function properly. It’s important to make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water, otherwise the added fiber won’t get excreted properly. With flaxseed especially, because of the thickening agent called mucilage, hydration is important.

What Are The Recommended Amounts of Flax?

If you are using ground flaxseed, the dosage is generally based on your dog’s weight. You can add ground flaxseed to your dog’s food in the following dosages, or administer it to your dog in supplemental capsules, then adjust the dose as needed. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and schedules provided on the ground flaxseed product.

It’s recommended that you divide these dosages in half and administer the first half in the morning and the remainder in the evening.

  • In dogs that are teacup size, you can start with 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon per day.
  • In small dogs, start with a 1/2 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon each day.
  • In medium-sized dogs you can start with 1 1/2 teaspoons to 2 full teaspoons per day.
  • In large dogs, you can start with 2 1/2 teaspoons to 1 full tablespoon per day.
  • In giant breeds like Great Danes, start with 1 1/2 to 2 full tablespoons daily.

Keep in mind that if you have a dog that is diabetic or hypoglycemic, it’s important to check with your vet before supplementing with flaxseed.

Also, remember that dogs who are fed whole flax seeds will most likely not see any benefit from them, because they will pass the seeds undigested. This makes it a wasted effort, and a waste of money. Though doing this doesn’t harm your dog, it also doesn’t do them any favors.

Also, because it is sometimes said that dogs have a harder time converting ALA into EPA and DHA, it’s important to make sure you are feeding them a very high-quality flaxseed supplement. When a dog does have a problem converting ALA into EPA or DHA, it is largely a result of feeding your dog poor quality flaxseed.

To avoid this, do your due diligence and find a quality source from a proven provider, and watch your dog flourish as a result.

Shop our high quality fresh-ground flaxseed supplements for dogs today!

*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.

References:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/healthy-foods-checklist-flaxseed-dogs

https://www.vetinfo.com/flax-seed-oil-dogs.html/

https://flaxcouncil.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FlaxFeed-Nutrition-Benefits-final.pdf

5 Critical Benefits of Omega-3 for Dogs

What Are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are the fatty acids that are available in your dog’s food, as well as in the form of nutritional supplements. Different brands praise the virtues of omega-3 fatty acids, citing they help with skin and heart conditions, allergies, kidney functions and cognitive functions. Many vets and dog owners recommend the usage of omega-3 supplements as a preventative health measure.

Omega-3 is a fatty acid that is considered “polyunsaturated.” Polyunsaturated just means that the omega-3s have double bonds within their carbon chain. In simple terms, double bonds make omega-3s more prone to rancidity, and because of those double bonds, it is physiologically impossible for dogs to make their own omega-3s. They must get it from diet and nutrition.

Why Does Your Dog Need Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the cornerstones of healthy nutrition for your dog. But one thing to keep in mind is there also needs to be a balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Despite having similar names, they have somewhat opposing jobs. While both fatty acids help to control hormones, they each control hormones that perform different functions.

Omega-6 fatty acids produce the hormones that help with cell growth, blood clotting, and increasing inflammation as part of the immune response. However, omega-3 fatty acids produce hormones that help the immune system, decrease inflammation, and work alongside omega-6 in such a way a good balance of both is essential.

What Are Benefits of Omega-3 for Dogs?

1. Reduces Inflammation and Effects of Inflammatory Skin Disorders

Remember that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids work in conjunction together when it comes to controlling inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation and omega-3 fatty acids lower inflammation. Balance is necessary.

If either of those get out of balance, your dog’s immune system will get out of whack and may experience all the negative symptoms associated with inflammation and an impaired immune system.

Omega-3 fatty acids are especially helpful for dogs that suffer from inflammatory disorders such as allergies and early atopy. Allergies and early atopy causes severe itching and sometimes even hair loss if it gets too bad. Keeping your dog supplemented with omega-3 is helpful in controlling these types of canine skin disorders.

 2. Supports Cognitive Function

Omega-3 supplementation can also support your dog’s neurological health and cognitive function. Especially in dogs who may suffer from age-related changes with behavior and mobility.

There are studies with evidence that suggests consuming omega-3 fatty acids can positively impact cognitive and behavioral memory and performance, such as improved agility, and improved recognition of family members and other household pets.

It may also improve behaviors like excessive licking and patterned pacing, and it appears it could have a neuroprotective effect as well. This hinders the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in humans, meaning those neuroprotective effects could transfer over to dogs too.

Another benefit to supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids is found in dogs that are pregnant and nursing. It may improve the neurologic development of puppies, as well as learning and memory in young dogs.

3. Could Help with Joint Inflammation

Due to its anti-inflammatory abilities, study results report potential improvement in the clinical signs of osteoporosis, and some objective improvements when it came to dogs exhibiting lameness. It also appears to offer objective improvements in a dog’s weight-bearing scores.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in supplements like flax work by decreasing the production of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are what trigger joint inflammation. Based on observation, dogs with joint inflammation appear to be more agile and move around more freely than dogs that do not receive an omega-3 supplement.

4. Promotes Heart Health

Dogs that supplement with omega-3 may reduce their chances of developing atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heart rhythm, as well as reduce their potential to develop heart problems. It can also work as an anticoagulant to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Regular supplementation may also help your dog decrease his blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and reduce your dog’s risk of stroke or other heart related problems. It may even help to normalize your dog’s body weight, which can only be of benefit the heart!

5. Reduces Dry, Flaky Skin

Unfortunately, when a dog has a poor coat and unhealthy skin, they are at an increased risk for irritation, itching, skin allergies, and bacterial infections.

Regular supplementation of omega-3 can increase the health of your dog’s skin and coat. It can help to reduce the effects related to skin allergies, and reduce the occurrence of yeast infections. It can also reduce the incidence of hotspots in your dog, and even eradicate dandruff. Plus, omega-3 may decrease shedding. All things which help promote a healthy, shining coat.

Other Conditions Giving Your Dog Omega-3 May Help Improve

There are many health conditions that are thought to improve by giving your dog a regular omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Dogs that are fed plant-based omega-3 could decrease the loss of protein in the urine, lower high blood pressure, and reduce the production of other inflammatory substances that are thought to contribute to kidney disease and its progression.

It’s also been discovered that omega-3 may increase stamina and renew energy, protect your dog against a variety of autoimmune diseases, reduce the risk of stroke, and even lower the risk of cancer due to its antioxidant properties.

Possible Side Effects to Omega-3 Supplementation

Though omega-3 fatty acid supplements are not particularly toxic if you go overboard, they can produce some side effects that may be uncomfortable for your dog. Because omega-3 fatty acids can have an anticoagulation effect, it may not be wise to use with any medications you already give your dog intended for blood thinning. The same rule applies to anti-inflammatory medications because of omega-3 fatty acids anti-inflammatory properties.

It is also wise to speak to your vet if your dog is on any kind of immunosuppression medications to make sure omega-3 supplements are safe to give him. Based on current research, there are many benefits to giving your dog omega-3 fatty acids as part of a well-balanced nutrition plan.

Shop our fresh-ground flaxseed supplements for dogs!

*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.

References:
https://www.petcurean.com/blog/flaxseed-omega-3-benefits-for-dogs-and-cats/http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/august/using-omega-3-fatty-acids-effectively-and-safely-31972

Signs Your Dog May Be Suffering From Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition thought to be related to joint inflammation. It can be caused by many things, ranging from infection or trauma, to immune-related and metabolic diseases. Most commonly, however, arthritis is related to aging, developmental abnormalities, overuse of the joint and other joint problems.

All these things can cause degeneration to occur, creating wear and tear as well as inflammation and pain. Some dogs may be predisposed to arthritis due to breed, especially German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers.

Additionally, dogs that are obese may be more likely to become arthritic than dogs that remain at a healthy weight. Here are some of the signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis.

Subtle Symptoms

Sometimes you may feel like your dog is just not acting like his usual self. Maybe he doesn’t have as much pep in his step, maybe he seems down or depressed, or maybe you just sense something is off.

Like a child, you know your dog best. If you feel that something isn’t normal, then you are probably right. In any case, a feeling that something may be “off” is a good place to start and consider seeing your vet. Other subtle signs of arthritis in dogs can include weight gain, lethargy, and prolonged naps that are outside the norm.

Behavior Changes

Sometimes dogs that are suffering from arthritis could exhibit behavior changes. Things like a lack of appetite, a lack of interest in normal activities, and exercise intolerance are common.

Other more obvious signs in dogs might be things like forgetting their house training and having accidents in the house, or behaving snappy and irritable when they are normally sweet and gentle. Some dogs can become depressed when they are in pain. Any behavior that a dog exhibits that falls outside of their normal habits can be an indicator that they are hurting and that something is wrong.

Difficulty Moving

Sometimes dogs that are in pain and suffering from arthritis may show intermittent lameness. You might see your dog limping and favoring one leg over another, especially if that leg or joint is particularly painful and stiff that day. Your pup also may avoid climbing the stairs or jumping onto his favorite piece of furniture.

Sometimes a dog will present with an abnormal stance, tucking their pelvis under while walking and using their hind legs very carefully. A dog with arthritis may also display a reluctance to stand up or move, and move in a bunny hopping manner when they do.

Other times, dogs with arthritis may seem like they’re just stiff and moving slowly. Once their body warms up and their joints become lubricated, they begin to move more normally. Sometimes a dog can appear stiff after too much exercise, or due to obesity and added strain on the body. However, if your dog is not overweight yet still seems to be walking like an old man, that’s a big clue he might be in pain.

Agitation and the Inability to Get Comfy

Dogs suffering from arthritis could become agitated as well as tremble or pace. When attempting to nap, your dog might constantly change positions to find a comfortable position and relieve this pain.

Unfortunately, all your dog’s efforts offer very little in the way of relief or comfort. When he does find a position that is somewhat tolerable, don’t be surprised if he naps for a while. Restful sleep is hard to come by!

Verbal (and Nonverbal) Pain Cues

Dogs that are in pain will sometimes whine or cry when they move, or when you touch or pet them. Your dog’s joints could be swollen and feel tender and warm. Your dog may even become snappy if you touch him, or yelp and bark.

If the arthritis is very bad, you may even see visible deformities of the joint. Alternatively, some dogs become abnormally silent when suffering, simply because barking or vocalizing makes their pain worse and requires more energy than they have to give.

Note that if a dog is suffering from arthritis in a single joint, their tendency to favor that leg will cause additional strain on all their other joints. This can trigger arthritis elsewhere. However, the speed that this disease progresses depends on several factors, such as age, weight, health, nutrition, as well as breed and genetics.

As you can see, there are several signs that can indicate arthritis in a dog. Obviously, the sooner you can treat the disease, the healthier and more comfortable your dog will be. Whatever the symptoms, if you suspect your dog may have arthritis, it is advisable to see your vet as soon as you can to weigh your options and keep your dog from suffering unnecessarily.

*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.

References:

http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Arthritis/Symptoms.aspx

http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_arthritis_how_to_recognize_and_manage_the_condition

http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/5-signs-your-dog-may-have-arthritis

Common Hip & Joint Problems In Dogs – What You Should Know

Occasionally, you may notice your dog appears to be moving a bit more slowly than normal, or perhaps even limping. Often, this is due to some sort of hip or joint discomfort your dog is experiencing.

Dogs can develop hip and joint problems at any age, and it doesn’t matter whether they are young or old, or whether they are tiny or big. Granted, some breeds may be more prone to hip and joint problems than others, and older dogs are more often affected simply due to age and the natural deterioration of joint and bone health, but hip and joint pain by and large, doesn’t discriminate in choosing its victims.

Though joint pain in the hips seems to be the most common area, dogs can suffer joint pain in their shoulders, knees, and elbows too. Some dogs may even develop pain and deterioration in the joints between their spinal vertebrae.

It is important to properly diagnose the source of your dog’s pain and discomfort to effectively treat it. In some cases, the pain may never be fully eradicated, and treatment will encompass managing your dog’s discomfort over the long-term.

Symptoms and Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs

Some of the more common signs of joint pain and discomfort in dogs include:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Favoring one leg over another
  • Holding one leg up off the ground
  • Bunny hopping while running
  • Moving stiffly and slowly
  • Having trouble getting up on their feet
  • Having trouble laying down
  • Displaying difficulty when climbing stairs
  • Displaying trouble engaging in common movements or activities
  • Unwilling to walk or jump or climb in general
  • Display a struggle with jumping into a vehicle
  • Sometimes dogs may obsessively lick the joint area
  • Noticeable swelling of the joints
  • Hearing an audible popping or cracking sound in the joint
  • Having accidents around the house
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Exhibiting excessive panting
  • Displaying behavior changes such as irritation or depression
  • Muscle wasting or atrophy can also occur and be an indicator of hip and joint pain

Dog Breeds Most Commonly Affected by Hip and Joint Pain

As stated before, any dog of any age can develop hip and joint pain. However, there are some breeds and types of dog that could be more susceptible than others.

These breeds include:

  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Samoyed
  • Dachshund
  • Mastiffs
  • Great Dane
  • Old English Sheep Dog

Also, dogs that are longer in the torso than they are tall can be pain prone, and dogs with a high BMI are at a high risk of developing joint issues. Sometimes small breed dogs that have been bred to have specific qualities are also more at risk for hip and joint pain too, among other health concerns.

Causes of Hip and Joint Pain in Dogs

There are many reasons a dog can develop hip and joint pain. Some of the more common culprits can be narrowed down to:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition where a dog’s hip socket has not properly formed. This results in joint damage and arthritis in dogs due to the ill fit. Because the bone doesn’t fit into the socket properly, it can create pain, inflammation, and irritation from the rubbing. A few signs of arthritis in dogs include change of behavior, limping or whimpering.

Although any breed of dog can be affected with this condition, it is often seen in German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundland, and Labrador Retrievers. Hip dysplasia is considered a genetic condition that can be passed down the line and inherited by their offspring.

However, other factors such as obesity or insufficient levels of exercise can speed up the onset. Additionally, though this condition can occur at any time any dog’s life, it appears to be more common in older dogs and related to the aging process.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis in older dogs is caused by natural degeneration due to wear and tear on the joints. Dogs can suffer from this wear and tear with any joint in their body, including their elbows, shoulders, knees, back, and hips.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

This condition most often affects shoulder joints, but also may affect hip joints. OCD is caused when there is a flaw in the smooth cartilage surface of a joint, and the cartilage develops abnormally on the end of the bone.

This creates a separation from the underlying bone that can cause problems and pain. Sometimes this condition resolves on its own, if your dog’s activity is very restricted.

Unfortunately, sometimes surgery might be required if a piece of cartilage breaks off and floats loosely in the joint. The floating cartilage will need to be removed, and until it is, it can trigger varying levels of mild to intense pain.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

This condition doesn’t have a known cause. It is a disintegration of a dog’s hip coupled with bone and joint inflammation. This is due to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur bone located behind your dog’s hind leg.

This condition typically affects younger dogs, and is most often seen in toy, miniature, and small dog breeds, with Manchester Terriers appearing to have a genetic predisposition to this disease.

Panosteitis

Panosteitis is common, and is the result of inflammation on the surface of a dog’s long bones. Panosteitis is sometimes referred to as a “growing pains”, as the condition appears to be related to rapid growth, especially in younger, larger dogs. Lameness can affect more than one leg bone, and shift from one leg to another.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD)

Another condition that is caused by rapid growth is HOD. This is again, one that is self-limiting and typically resolves itself, although in some very rare cases permanent damage and deformation can occur. HOD is an inflammation of the growth plates in a dog’s long bones.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hip and Joint Pain

If a dog is suffering from hip or joint pain, or has pain anywhere in their body, they will need x-rays for a proper evaluation. Your vet may order scans of both of your dog’s hips, or take scans of both sides of his body, even if your dog appears to be favoring one side over the other. Better to scan both sides at the same time, to get a full picture of what may be going on.

Dogs can naturally be very stoic and may rarely display signs of pain. That’s why it’s important for you to know your dog well, so you can recognize subtle signs and behavior changes that indicate your dog may be hurting.

Sometimes a dog might sleep more than normal, or display a change in attitude. They may express a loss of interest in playing or other normal activities. These signs can be subtle, but if you’re looking hard enough, your dog will always give you clues as to how he is feeling.

When treating your dog for hip or joint pain, there are a variety of approaches to take. Sometimes simple pain management can be a huge help in improving your dog’s quality of life. A vet may recommend something to relieve pain and inflammation, they may recommend corticosteroids, or perhaps some combination thereof.

You might also be prescribed supplements to keep your dog’s joints healthy and well lubricated. Supplements like glucosamine, vitamin C, and MSM are sometimes recommended for this purpose. Your vet can also administer injections to lubricate the joints if they feel it is necessary.

Another treatment that appears to be becoming more popular with many pet owners is Chinese acupuncture. It has been used successfully for pain management in both humans as well as dogs for years, and is an option that may be combined with other treatments approaches as well.

It’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t overdo his activity while he’s recovering, and to keep exercise is to a minimum. When it’s time for exercise, water therapy is a very good option for dogs with joint pain. Even treatments like a massage and warm compresses can be very soothing and provide pain relief for your dog.

Make sure that wherever your dog sleeps, it is warm and dry, as moist conditions can sometimes worsen his pain. In very severe cases where the joint appears malformed and other treatment options don’t seem to be providing much relief, surgery may be needed. However, surgery is not a first choice when treating hip or joint pain, and should only be considered when all other treatment options have failed.

It should also be noted that regular exercise and a quality diet may be helpful slowing down the onset of hip and joint pain, although it will not “prevent” it.

Living with Hip and Joint Pain in Dogs

Sometimes dogs are just forced to live with hip and joint pain. That doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your dog’s quality of life. You can help him overcome some of the physical challenges he faces by making alterations around your home that will help him move around better.

Some recommendations to consider are:

Ramps

You can install ramps to help your dog navigate things like stairs or furniture. That way, he will no longer need to jump or climb and cause himself unnecessary pain.

Runners and Cushion

Things like non-skid runners on wood or tile floors are helpful, and padded surfaces such as old chair cushions provide a soft and warm place to lay that is gentle on your dog’s hips and joints.

Dog Gates

Sometimes dogs will ignore their pain and hurt themselves while trying to climb stairs or jump on their favorite couch or chair. Doggie gates can be useful to keep dogs from climbing and prevent them from jumping on furniture when you’re not looking.

Accessible Food and Water

Keep things like food and water easily accessible, and at a comfortable height. If you live in a multi-story home, it’s important to keep food and water dishes on all floors for easier access. You should also place those items on nonslip surfaces, so they stay put during drinking and feeding times.

Hot Water Bottles and Heat Pads

You can offer your dog a little extra warmth at night by wrapping a hot water bottle or a microwavable heating pad in a towel, and placing it in his bed.

Regular Grooming

If you’d really like to pamper your dog and make him feel loved, try grooming him on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when dogs lose their agility and mobility, they have a hard time reaching all their favorite spots while self-grooming. With regular grooming sessions, you can reach those spots instead, and in doing, bring comfort and delight to your canine friend.

There are a variety of ways you can make your dog suffering from long-term hip and joint pain more comfortable and help him navigate his environment. Put on your creative thinking cap, and brainstorm ways you can alter some of your dog’s favorite activities to make them safer and less arduous.

Encouraging Mobility in a Dog with Hip and Joint Pain

Sometimes when dogs are sore and in pain, they just don’t want to move around too much. However, regular gentle exercise can help your dog manage his pain and keep his muscles strong, his ligaments flexible, and improve circulation.

Plus, regular exercise reduces your dog’s chances of obesity. And just like with people, after a few minutes of moving around and warming up, most dogs can get around much more easily.

However, on those days where your dog appears reluctant to move, you may need to coax him with a treat or a favorite toy to get him up and on his feet. Try to make the experience as fun as you can, and shower him with lots of love and affection.

Just be careful not to overdo his exercise, because too much can cause additional strain and damage. It’s also important to monitor your dog’s diet, and make sure he’s eating well and staying at a healthy weight. Obesity creates additional joint stress and pain, which makes an already unfortunate condition worse.

At the end of the day, hip and joint pain in dogs can be challenging but not insurmountable. You may have to change your dog’s environment a bit, change his diet up, and modify certain activities to make sure he isn’t overdoing it, but even with all those changes, with proper treatment, use of canine hip & joint supplements, and care, your dog can still have a very good quality of life.

*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.

References:

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-joint-health-pain-osteoarthritis-and-other-joint-problems#1

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/senior-dogs/treatments-for-hip-and-joint-problems-in-dogs

https://www.petcarerx.com/article/two-common-causes-of-dog-hip-pain/1409