The Importance Of Joint Supplements For Dogs
Humans sometimes need dietary supplements to augment and improve upon whatever is inadequate or needs boosting in their daily nutritional consumption and the same is true when it comes to pets and joint supplements for dogs.
Even if a dog is fed the highest quality dog food and lives the best life possible, if it belongs to a breed of dog predisposed to joint issues, it will still be at risk for developing joint problems without supplementation. Likewise, there has to be a good balance of nutrition and exercise in order for a dog to successfully avoid developing health issues in general.
Can You Avoid Joint Problems in Dogs?
Dogs may be given supplements as early as eight months to a year old as a preventive measure against bone and joint problems, especially in cases of dogs that belong to breeds predisposed to developing problems and conditions with their joints.
Large breeds of dogs for example are more likely to have health issues relating to their bones. A dog’s weight is also a contributing factor in their bones getting strained over time. However, there are smaller breeds of dogs such as Shih Tzus and Pugs that are also predisposed to developing joint conditions despite their smaller size.
How to Address Joint Problems in Dogs
The most important thing that dog owners should primarily focus on is providing their dogs with proper nutrition through their regular diet. This means a dog should be eating a healthy meal whether the dog food is homemade or store-bought.
A more holistic approach to ensuring a healthy diet is filling in any inadequate nutritional provisions, is to provide the dog what it needs for its joints or otherwise from other, additional sources such as supplements.
Common ingredients in joint supplements include glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. These ingredients help in relieving joint pains, improving flexibility, and strengthening cartilage and joints, and reducing inflammation.
Exercise and Dog Joints
Ensuring that a dog undertakes adequate exercise will also help with both weight management and overall health. However, excessive physical activity, much like in humans may also need to be avoided as it can also contribute to injuries relating to tendons, ligaments and joints.
Making sure that any dog takes light to moderate exercise on a daily basis will help loosen stiff joints and achy bones. Experts advise that the length of time needed for a dog to exercise varies on each dog’s specific need as well as their history of injury and breed.
Generally speaking, exercise lasting 15 to 20 minutes twice a day is more beneficial when it comes to joint problems in dogs, rather than one walk lasting 40 minutes. Another low-impact and ideal activity that does not overly stress the joints is swimming, which may be considered, so long as your dog takes kindly to water.
The environment in which the dog lives is also a factor to consider when it comes to ensuring its best health. Dog owners should provide a dog with adequate space to move around and sleep in and should avoid smoking in their presence.
By taking these steps, a dog will not be forced to assume awkward positions that may hinder healthy bone growth as well as place excess pressure on its joints and will not breathe in harmful tobacco smoke.
Do Joint Supplements Reduce Joint Pain in Dogs?
Joint problems in dogs often occur when the cartilage thins out and the ends of the bones start to scrape against each other; similar to osteoarthritis in humans which is caused by excessive 'load-bearing.'
This causes tremendous pain for those suffering with such joint conditions. Some of the most common symptoms that dogs display when enduring joint pain include struggling to jump into anything higher such as stairs or in the car, experiencing difficulty in attempting to sit or stand, limping on a leg, lifting a leg upwards, and having swollen joints.
Dog owners may also hear a pop or crack in the hips of a dog suffering from a joint condition.
Dogs who are already suffering from joint issues can greatly benefit from joint supplements. The anti-inflammatory effects found in the ingredients of joint supplements for dogs can greatly help in reducing the pain and inflammation caused by joint issues. Moreover, it can help in accelerating cartilage repair and the alleviation of pain in joints.
How To Choose the Best Dog Joint Supplements
The market has a wide selection of joint supplements and it can be very overwhelming and confusing to choose which are best for your dog and its joints.
First, make sure to pay attention to the active ingredients of the joint product and carefully read the labels and compare the individual ingredients in each brand.
Some brands may for example only use one or two particularly necessary ingredients. Nevertheless, MSM, chondroitin, glucosamine, and manganese are all beneficial for dogs when taken in supplement form. Therefore, a combination of all four ingredients in one product is more likely to give the best benefits.
Second, buy from trusted manufacturers. In this day and age, information is readily available online. Do some research on the manufacturers of these products.
Choose those that have evidence of trials and which have published the results. It is also important to choose products and joint supplements for dogs that manufacture their products in a cruelty-free and ethical manner. After all, the ones that are going to use these products are animals too.
Third, choose a product that is holistic.
There is science behind combining certain ingredients, with some ingredients added into supplements to make them more effective. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin have been shown to work well when paired together.
Some recent studies have also shown that turmeric has beneficial effects for dogs. A supplement that will produce the best results, therefore, are those that have a combination of more than two ingredients rather than just one or two.
Are There Side Effects When Using Joint Supplements for Dogs?
Taking supplements is generally safe for dogs and is often recommended. It is not likely to result in any serious side effects for your dog.
However, there are some minor side effects reported in the use of these products. The combination of chondroitin and glucosamine for instance, can cause digestive issues and itching.
Some dogs were also reported to have allergic reactions to the products containing these ingredients. If a dog is taking other medication for other conditions, it is probably best that a veterinarian be consulted prior to starting any supplementation for joints or otherwise.
Reported side effects however, are generally mild and can be managed by diet and exercise modification.
A dog owner needs only to be aware if his or her dog is exhibiting any side effects. During the first few days or weeks of giving the dog joint supplements, it is important to observe the dog’s behavior and disposition.
If there are signs of itching, upset stomach, or allergic reactions, a professional opinion is recommended to be sought. Otherwise, if a dog shows no signs of experiencing side effects, continuous and long-term use of the product is likely to yield positive results.
Laura Robinson, DMV
Dr Laura practices at the Antonio Animal Hospital in California, where she was born and raised. She is an advisor to Wuffes, ensuring all our products and content is of the highest standard