How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs

How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs

Joint problems aren’t limited to humans only; animals suffer from them as well. They can cause your pet to feel uncomfortable and even pain. As responsible pet owners we are supposed to do all we can to prevent this from happening; it is however, and most importantly, much easier than dealing with the consequences later on if we don’t.

So, what can cause joint problems in dogs?

Age – The older your dog, the more chances there are he or she will suffer from this condition.

Breed – large and giant breeds have to support more weight and are much more prone to joint problems than smaller dogs. This is why it is very important to think about the future and start protecting your dog as soon as possible.

Weight – Overweight dogs, a growing (no pun intended) and serious problem here in the UK, have a much greater chance of developing joint problems than their slim cover-girl friends. Remember, you can really hurt your dog with love. That extra sausage given as a treat just for being sooo cute will go straight to their hips.

Accidents – Unavoidable usually, but is your house safe from slippery floors or heavy things knocked over with an excited tail?

Infections – Significant reductions in the chance of this occurring can come from a good diet and exercise.

Genetic predispositions – Check out the parents if you can especially if you dog is a “mutt”. If it’s a pure breed then the breeder should be able to give you some history and advise you on the likelihood of problems in the future.

These are some of the main factors that play a big role in our beloved pets potentially developing joint problems.

Can we prevent this from happening?

Of this I am not sure. I am tempted to say no, but I believe that we can greatly reduce the chances of it occurring just by following some basic steps.

Knowing what can cause joint problems and knowing what to do in order to minimise the chances of it happening will help give your pet a better life and potentially save you and your pet a lot of problems in the future.

When we got Bunk, we knew what sort of breed we were getting, we were aware of the increased chance of problems it might hold for us in the future and yet we still got him. We started then and still do try our best to give both him and Lilly the best chance of a pain free life in the years to come.

So what can we do to prevent or minimise joint problems in dogs?

Correct diet

Just as with humans it can be argued that diet is very important, if not the single most important factor in determining what if any health problems we will incur in the future. A lot of people don’t really pay too much attention to what they are feeding their pet, often subconsciously driven by a marketing campaign created to make profits not the best for your pooch, which is a really scary thought. We have to pick the right food for our dog. It is extremely important that they eat what’s right for them and that the food contains all the necessary ingredients. When picking the food, do your research. Do not just pick a random pack from the shelf in the store because it is on offer! Make sure that the food is balanced and that it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which help protect the joints. If you have the time, skills and willingness you can always cook something special for them, like jellied pigs trotters 🙂

How to prevent joint problems in dogs - fish oil

Whilst we are on the subject of diet I would also recommend adding some fish oil. Research shows that it can reduce joint discomfort as well as promote healthy development. Fish oil contains omega-3 & 6 fatty acids that have greater benefits; it benefits their skin and coat, it improves the immune system, decreased inflammations, helps with energy levels, reduce risk of heart problems etc etc… Fish oil is not expensive, it will not break your bank and it will give real benefits to your dog.

Weight control

As stated above the more overweight the dog, the greater the chance of developing joint problems. Keeping your dog slim is extremely important, simply because their weight affects so much more than just joints. I featured a post about Pet Obesity some time ago, so please read it if you want to know more on the topic.

Exercises

Regular exercising of your dog is a must. Walk your dog as it will encourage movement and the flexibility of the joins and help them stay in better condition for longer. It also stimulates their minds and is their natural state which helps in a holistic way, It will also help with weight control. But like with everything in life moderation, exercising has to be done in moderation; too much or too little isn’t going to benefit your dog in fact it will be most unbeneficial.

How to minimise or maybe prevent joint problems in dogs - swimming

Swimming is highly beneficial for dogs as it doesn’t put any pressure on their joints and helps them relax. I am not suggesting that you have to take your dog to hydro therapy but if you have the sea, a lake or even a stream nearby and your dog likes to get wet, let them. Yes, I know it might not be ideal at times, your dog is all wet, your house stinks like a wet dog, your dog needs a bath… very time consuming but highly beneficial.

Sleeping conditions

Imagine how you would feel after an 8 hour long night on the cold hard floor, this is how your dog feels every morning, afternoon and evening. Dog beds are not just an aesthetics exercise, they are necessity! Every dog needs to have a good dog bed. Something warm and comfortable, large enough so he or she can stretch and roll over if desired but most important it has to offer a good lever of support for their joints, back and body, something like this Scruffs Hilton Orthopaedic Bed.

Bunk thinks it is a giant pillow
Bunk thinks it is a giant pillow
but Lilly knows better...
but Lilly knows better…

Sleeping on the cold hard floors of modern households is not natural, they are designed to sleep on the soil or grass which has some give and retains the bodies heat; something our tiles and wood veneered floors cannot offer, as such they are not ideal and not recommended. I know that sometimes it is hard to get your pet to sleep in the bed, but this is one of the reasons why people started dog training. Buy a good dog bed for your pet and make them sleep in it. Or if you own a dog like our Lilly you can take the easy quick option and sacrifice your own bed through the day and evening for he own personal use…

I am done. This is my list.

I would love to know if there is anything else you would add to it.

*Lilly and Bunk received 1 bottle of Salmon Oil and a new bed from Pet Shop Bowl.

PFMA – Pet obesity five years on

pfma-infographic-pet-obesity-five-years-on-march-2014

UK pet industry calls for clampdown on overfeeding,

to improve lives of our loved ones

Today, three in four (77%) vets believe pet obesity is on the rise. Despite pet obesity being a potentially life-limiting condition, new research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), principal trade body for the UK pet food industry, reveals two in three (63%) owners feel more important problems face their pets.

Vets consider the root causes of pet weight gain to be owners not following feeding guides (72% re cats, 60% re small furries and 28% re birds), treating with leftover food (78% re dogs) and insufficient exercise, particularly for cats (46%), dogs (44%) and small furries (35%).

Zara Boland BVSc BE MRCVS, Founder of Vet Voice Ltd says: “Overweight pets, like humans, can suffer from a myriad of health issues such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is nothing ‘cuddly’ about an overweight pet. Obesity is a disease in itself. It causes discomfort and illness that can result in both emotional distress and financial pressure for owners, and it has also been proven to reduce actual life length. We must continue pushing the pet health message until overweight pets are no longer an increasing and widespread concern.”

PFMA’s ‘Pet Obesity: Five Years On’ research arrives five years after its previous report, allowing pet owners and professionals to see how the needle has moved, gauging whether Britain is winning regarding pet slimming. New findings show that although pet owners’ awareness of pet obesity has improved, cause for concern remains – while vets feel up to 45% of all pets they see are overweight (45% of dogs, 40% of cats, 28% of small furries and 15% of caged birds), two in three (63%) pet owners believe their pet is the correct weight.

The vast majority (93%) of pet owners say they would be concerned to discover their pet is overweight, yet only one in three (37%) know how to check this, indicating that existing tools and guidelines are simply not getting enough cut-through.

THE CAUSES

PFMA is calling for pet owners to resist overfeeding and excessive treating, both heavy contributors to pet obesity – currently, two in three (68%) pet owners do not follow professional guidelines when deciding portion size, with 30% taking a cavalier approach relying on instinct. This needs to change.

Vets advise that treats should be fed occasionally and be taken into consideration at meal times, reducing the regular pet food ration accordingly. Whether consisting of dried, moist or a mixture of these foods, a daily diet suited to a pet’s life-stage and adhering to professional feeding guidelines is the best way to ensure pets receive optimum nutrition. Worryingly, nearly half (48%) of owners are feeding pets treats more than twice a day, unknowingly putting them at risk. One in three (36%) pet owners are using ‘human’ food to treat, but such treats are often unsuitable – some healthy human food treats (such as vegetables for dogs) are suitable, but others can be too high in fat and sometimes toxic (such as chocolate, onions and grapes).

As with humans, supporting diet with exercise is key in tackling pet obesity. Vets recommend exercise of at least 30 minutes twice daily for adult dogs, forty minutes daily for cats (particularly indoor cats) and four hours daily for rabbits – although the level of exercise required for any pet will also depend on its age, breed and health. Owners should always seek vets’ advice on this, as – for example – certain dogs may need longer, more vigorous walks. Encouragingly, nearly one in three (31%) owners currently provide up to an hour’s exercise a day, though there is a serious shortfall for rabbits and birds (with 69% and 78% of their owners believing no exercise is necessary, respectively).

HELP AT HAND

Three in four (78%) UK vets are running obesity clinics with high success rates (49.5%). All vets welcome questions from owners about their pet’s weight and will offer guidance on how best to stay on track. In addition, extensive pet weight management resources – including Pet Size-O-Meters and details of PFMA’s annual Weigh in Wednesday initiative – are available here. Further inspiration can be found and shared on the #GetPetsFit campaign Facebook page.

Taking its latest pet owner and vet findings into account, PFMA suggests that controlling portion size and monthly weighing or measuring are priority for any owners wanting to prolong and improve their pet’s life.

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of PFMA says: “All the tools are in place for pet owners and pet care professionals to better pets’ lives together – now is the time to use them. We need to engage pet owners emotionally, helping them realise that feeding and exercising their pet to optimum level can result in an extra two years of active life. To help spread the word about ideal pet weight, PFMA will launch a #GetPetsFit campaign in May this year. A host of pet experts are drawing the community of Teddington together to change its pets’ fortunes – watch this space.”

 

About PFMA
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is the principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry, its 70 members accounting for over 90% of the market. PFMA aims to be the credible voice of a responsible pet food industry. While striving to achieve a balanced regulatory environment for the production of nutritious and safe food, PFMA also encourages responsible pet ownership working in partnership with relevant pet bodies. It aims to be the main resource for its members, general public and others as well as playing a lead role in forming opinions in Europe through the European Pet Food Federation (FEDIAF). For more information visit www.pfma.org.uk.

 

*This is an official PFMA press release – Pet obesity five years on from Thurs 13 Mar 2014