When Should I Start Giving My Dog Joint Supplements?
Joint issues are among the most common health concerns among dogs. Thus, dog owners find ways to either prevent the onset of this health issue in their pets or try and ease the pain their pets may feel if they are already experiencing joint problems.
One of the most effective ways to address this particular canine health issue is by giving dogs joint supplements. Sometimes, however, dog owners do not know when exactly they should be giving it to their dogs.
Should it be given as early as their puppy years or should dog owners wait until their dogs actually experience symptoms of joint issues? Read on to find out.
Can supplements help prevent joint problems in dogs?
Mobility is very important for dogs. Most dogs are highly active and will have to keep moving, running, and jumping in order for them to maintain a healthy physique. It is very important, therefore, that owners pay attention to their dog’s bone and joint health.
Generally, age plays a big factor in developing health issues in dogs. However, some breeds are genetically predisposed to develop issues in their joints earlier than other breeds.
These breeds include, among others: German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, English Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Chow Chows, Rottweilers, Bloodhounds, Great Danes, Mastiffs, Daschunds, and even small ones like pugs and Shih Tzus.
Owners of dogs of these breeds should start considering giving their dogs supplements at an early stage in order to prevent early onset of joint issues.
Dogs who belong to breeds predisposed to hip and joint problems, large breed dogs, active dogs, and those who need to use stairs often may be given supplements as early as eight weeks to a year old. This should, of course, be accompanied with proper diet and regular exercise.
Your dog very likely does not want to take the supplements on their own, especially younger dogs who are usually very picky with what they eat. It can be hard to feed them supplements and you may need to employ a lot of tricks to get them to take it.
Fortunately, supplements come in various forms that can help owners give it to their dogs without problems. Dietary supplements for dogs, like those for humans, now come in flavored pills, chewables, powders, and liquids.
A veterinarian may also prescribe specific supplements for your dog. Thus, it is important to consult with a vet before purchasing dietary supplements of any kind.
Can supplements help alleviate existing joint pain in dogs?
Dog owners that have dogs that are currently experiencing health issues in their bones and joints can also use supplements to ease the pain and discomfort from these conditions. There are supplements that contain ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties while some contain ingredients that help in cartilage production.
Glucosamine is among the ingredients that helps in lubricating joints as well as in producing proteoglycan which is helpful in maintaining resilient and healthy connective tissues and joints.
If glucosamine is combined with chondroitin, they become useful in promoting cartilage development. Meanwhile Omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids that are commonly found in fish oil contain anti-inflammatory properties, which promote overall health in dogs. EPA and DHA from fish oil also contribute to developing healthy joints and strong muscles.
Also among the ingredients found in supplements that contain anti-inflammatory properties is green-lipped mussels. It is native to New Zealand and has been known to be used in relieving pain for humans suffering from joint pain for more than a century.
Canine supplement manufacturers have included this ingredient in their products because of its pain-relieving effects and because it contains chondroitin that promotes a healthy cartilage.
Should dogs still maintain exercise even with supplements?
Even if dogs are given supplements as early as eight months old or a year old, supplements alone will not save them from experiencing joint problems in the future. It should be noted that proper diet is central to a dog’s overall health.
A dog that takes supplements but eats too much unhealthy food will still experience health issues. For instance, overeating will lead to obesity, which, in turn, will lead to a dog straining its bones, joints, and hips trying to carry its weight. Eventually, an overweight dog will start experiencing symptoms of joint problems if its weight is left unchecked.
This is also why it is important to make sure that dogs get regular exercise. An active lifestyle keeps a dog from gaining weight and suffering from joint problems.
It is therefore important to regularly walk your dog, let your dog run around in the park, or just keep your dog free to run around your yard. This way, your dog will be able to keep a healthy physique that its joints and bones can support and carry without straining it.
Are the benefits of supplements life-long?
Taking canine supplements as a preventive measure can spell a lifetime benefit for dogs. The results may take time to show and should not be expected to be instantaneous. Thus, the supplements should be taken on a long-term basis too.
Over time, the beneficial effects of taking this kind of dietary supplement will be noticeable such as when a dog is able to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle even in its senior years. Regular check-ups can also be used to gauge whether, indeed, the supplements are working because a veterinarian can advise a dog owner thereon.
Nevertheless, there may be side effects such as allergic reactions, digestive issues, insomnia, fatigue, frequent urination, restlessness, and excessive thirst. These side effects, however, are rare.
Feeding a dog a full meal alongside the supplement usually helps alleviate the side effects. If doing so does not work on a dog, it is highly advisable to contact a veterinarian so that a treatment to the side effect can be recommended.
There are various factors that may cause the side effects such as if your dog is taking other medications that interact with the supplement or if you are giving incorrect dosage to your dog. Thus, it is still prudent to consult a professional regarding whatever side effect your dog may experience.
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