Arthritis and joint pain are comment problems that affect our four-legged friends, particularly when they get older. Just like in humans, constant pressure on and movement of the joints from running, jumping and rolling around can lead to deterioration and stiffness, hindering your pooch’s movement over time.
Canine joint supplements are extremely common, but they are not always very well understood. If you are considering giving your dog supplements to aid its aching joints, make sure you understand what they contain and when they are necessary.
Why joint supplements are important
Your dog’s joints have a thin layer of connective tissue called cartilage This cartilage acts as a shock absorber, preventing bone from rubbing on bone when your dog moves. The cartilage also produces a fluid that lubricates the joint and helps it move more easily.
Over time, cartilage can begin to break down because of wear and tear, inflammation and degenerative diseases that deteriorate the tissue. This deterioration is most common in older dogs, but some dogs are more susceptible to joint damage and will experience symptoms of arthritis quite early in their lives.
A daily joint supplement can help support your pup’s joint health, no matter how old it is. These types of supplements are ideal for joint pain prevention, but they are also capable of soothing existing joint problems.
No joint supplement will reverse or cure arthritis or joint damage. Existing damage will always remain an issue in your dog’s joints, but supplements can help ease the pain felt as a result of this damage.
The key to joint supplements in dogs is prevention. Starting supplements earlier rather than later will have the most effective results for slowing and preventing joint breakdown and avoiding pain and stiffness.
The major components of joint supplements
Glucosamine and chondroitin are common supplements given to dogs to help slow the deterioration of joints and to lubricate them. Both are naturally occurring substances in the joints that help repair damaged tissues. Over time, the body produces less and less of these compounds, leading to cartilage breakdown.
Supplements often offer these compounds together because they are believed to work better when combined. Glucosamine helps to keep the joints lubricated properly and maintain cartilage health. Chondroitin helps by inhibiting enzymes that are destructive to cartilage. Together, these compounds may be able to help maintain and, to a certain extent, repair joint health.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is another common component of joint supplements. MSM is one of the essential components of connective tissue in the body.
One other common component of joint supplements is omega-3 fatty acids. While standalone supplements exist that are not specifically intended for joint care, omega-3 fatty acids are also present in many joint health supplements because they contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the joints and provide mobility. These types of supplements also have other benefits. They are great for your dog’s hair, making it shiny and silky-feeling. They also help support the function of various organs within the body like the heart and kidneys.
What kinds of dogs need joint care supplements?
Not all dogs will need joint care supplements, and those that do will not need to begin taking them at the same time. You should always speak to your vet before giving your dog any type of supplements. Your vet will be able to discern whether your dog will need to begin joint supplements early or not.
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to osteoarthritis and joint injury. These dogs will usually begin showing signs of arthritis far earlier than others. Large breeds usually fall into this category. In these cases, vets normally recommend that dog owners start giving their pups joint supplements around one year of age.
A regular joint care regimen helps maintain the joints through the younger stages of the dog’s life and slows the deterioration of cartilage. Most supplements are designed to be given for around six weeks on a regular basis. After that, the joint supplements can be continued, but will likely be reduced in dosage.
Pair supplements with a healthy lifestyle for the best results
Supplements are best administered in coordination with healthy lifestyle routines, such as maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Allowing your dog to live a sedentary lifestyle will not help protect its joints.
Immobility will only worsen with time because the connective tissue tightens and stiffens around the joints. And, dogs that are overweight due to a lack of physical activity will put extra pressure on their joints every time they move. Thus, it’s important to maintain a regular exercise routine by taking your dog on walks and runs.
Prevention is the key to mobility
If you are concerned about your dog’s joints, make sure to ask your vet and begin joint care supplements before the effects of arthritis are able to set in. Prevention is the best way to care for your dog’s aching joints.