As winter approaches people diagnosed with conditions like arthritis will tell you that cold weather worsens their pain and stiffness. If you have a dog with joint issues, his discomfort will increase during the winter months, too. In this post, we’ll share some tips to help you recognize the early stages of joint soreness and stiffness in your dog. We also offer tips on how to help your pet be more comfortable in the winter months.
Early Warning Signs that Your Dog is Experiencing Joint Stiffness and Soreness
Observe your companion closely and ask yourself these questions:
- Is your dog slowing down?
- Is he or she having a tougher time manipulating stairs?
- Does jumping onto the couch or bed seem more difficult than it used to be?
- Has your pet’s enthusiasm for a walk diminished from what it used to be? Would she now rather have a 5-minute walk than her usual 20-minute walk?
- Does your dog seem sore first thing in the morning?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, joint issues may be the underlying cause.
What are the Causes of Joint Issues Anyhow?
In humans, joint stiffness and soreness are probably the most common seemingly age-related chronic symptoms. I say “seemingly age-related” because the physiological changes that are often seen with a dog with joint issues can begin at a very young age. You probably don’t relate joint stiffness and soreness to diet, exercise and various stressors, however, research has shown this to be true.
Happily, chronic conditions like this can many times be prevented when recognized early and lifestyle changes and proper support is implemented. Even if already present, sore and stiff joints can be much more comfortable with a few supportive actions.
There are different types and causes of joint issues. Some breeds have genetic tendencies toward joint problems. These breeds may experience symptoms at an early age. We’ve all felt heartbroken when we see German Shepherd and Labradors with genetic debilitating hip issues. Additionally, sometimes joint problems are the result of injuries.
Although medication may be necessary to relieve advanced conditions, I’m sure you’ll agree that finding natural solutions when possible is undoubtedly the most appealing option for your dog’s health.
Natural Ways to Ease Discomfort for your Dog with Joint Issues
- Keep your four-legged friend warm and dry. Since cold and damp aggravate these issues, your dog may benefit from a cozy padded dog bed. Some dogs even enjoy a heating pad (set on low) beneath their bedding.
- All dogs need regular exercise. For the pet with soreness and stiffness, gentle exercise may be most appropriate. Although initially sore, often tender joints will loosen up with movement. Monitor your dog while walking, playing, or running. A soft surface like grass may be more comfortable on her joints than hard pavement.
- Help your pet to maintain a healthy weight. More food and less exercise can result in extra pounds which will place more stress on his already painful joints.
- Ramps to help your dog get in and out of the car or up to a bed may be very helpful. Adding carpeting and secure rugs to tile or hardwood surfaces will help your dog get traction as he walks.
- Taken regularly, natural supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, available in the product Hip & Joint, in conjunction with Omega-3 oils have been found to be extremely useful in improving mobility and decreasing stiffness on movement.
- Massage and acupuncture can be valuable for pets as well as people. Benefits may include increased flexibility, circulation and overall sense of wellbeing.
Of course, take your dog to your veterinarian for regular check-ups. Your dog’s doctor can best monitor his condition.
As we’ve mentioned, joint stiffness and decreased mobility often appear at the end of a long-term process of overall declining health. Often these symptoms that we relate to aging can be prevented by proper health maintenance in earlier years. To understand more about how to best support all aspects of your best friend’s wellness, check out the book Natural Pet Care for Dogs.