Why do Dogs get Stiff Joints?
Going for walks was more than likely the highlight of your dog’s day for their formative years. Exploring the area, bounding around the house, and jumping on the furniture were probably all daily occurrences for your beloved pet.
However, it can be difficult, especially as dogs get older to spot the warning signs of joint stiffness. Dogs often struggle to communicate their issues with us and will even try to hide them. Just because your dog isn’t yelping or crying does not mean they are not in pain with their joints.
Although some joint stiffness is not curable, there are a plethora of things you can do to make your dog more comfortable and enable them to get the most out of every day.
The Signs that Your Dog Has Joint Pain
- Lies down at every opportunity, particularly if they used to be happy to sit or stand
- Hesitates or refuses to go up or down the stairs, or jump in the car
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden aggression, particular after being touched
- Biting, Licking and Chewing their legs
- Falls behind you on walks
- Refusal to be dried or groomed
- Limping, particularly after sleeping or resting
- Weight gain – refusal to move will lead to them carrying excess weight
What Causes Stiff Joints?
There are a variety of factors which can lead to stiff joints in dogs.
Joint stiffness is more common in older dogs, where the cartilage has worn away over the years. However, you should be aware that joint pain can still occur in younger dogs too.
If your dog is carrying too much weight, it puts a great deal of stress on their bones and joints. Overweight dogs are also more reluctant to exercise, so it can be a difficult journey to get them back into shape. When trying to help your dog lose their excess weight, strive for a regular, rather than excessive exercise routine.
There are many dogs, notably larger breeds, that are simply more susceptible to joint issues. Before purchasing or adopting a pup, you should always consider the specific needs of that breed.
Stiffness in the joints is often associated with diseases such as arthritis which is common among older dogs. Your vet will be able to diagnose this and recommend appropriate treatment and medication.
Viral and Bacterial Infections
These infections can attack the joints, muscles, or nerves to cause stiffness in our animals. They will often cause inflammation around the joints, which can affect the range of motion and cause the dog a great deal of pain.
Adaptations You Can Make
There are a range of small changes you get make around the home, to create an environment that is more suitable for a pet with joint issues.
Block Off the Stairs
Unless your dog must go upstairs, restricting access may be worthwhile.
You can use a stair gate, generally used for toddlers, to limit access to the staircase. This will prevent your pet from attempting the journey and making their pain worse in the process.
Ramps for Outdoors
If there is a big step either from your garden or up to your front door, placing a ramp can make the journey much easier for your pet. This does not have to be a permanent option, but can be a temporary, even make-shift, ramp to aid your dog into the home.
Avoid Slippery Surfaces
Wooden and tiled floors can be a nightmare for dogs with stiff joints.
They can quickly result in your pet losing their balancing and tripping, making the pain much worse. Simply putting down rugs and carpets can make the home far more comfortable for your pet to navigate.
Invest in a New Bed
If your pet has severe joint pain, they will likely be spending much more time resting and sleeping. Investing in an orthopaedic bed will lead them to a much more comfortable sleep and help prevent further issues.
Raise the Height of Their Food Bowl
Merely placing the food and water higher to prevent your dog from having to bend down whilst eating will make their life strides more comfortable. Joint pain can often cause dogs to become depressed, which results in them not eating enough. Making mealtimes more comfortable will work wonders in preventing this.
What are The Treatments for Stiff Joints in Dogs?
The treatment your dog requires will undoubtedly depend on what the underlying issue is. If your dog shows signs of evident distress or extreme pain, it is best to consult a vet as soon as possible. They should be able to provide immediate pain relief whilst the cause is diagnosed.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the most straightforward measures to relieve dog’s joint pressures is to help them remain healthy. Regular exercise and a balanced diet mean that your dog’s weight should remain stable. Although it can be tempting to give excessive treats, you must remain strict when you see your pet struggling.
Your dog will naturally produce Glucosamine, which helps ensure healthy cartilage in the joints. However, as your dog ages, Glucosamine production slows, and therefore, joint issues can arise. This may result in a smaller range of motion or pain and fatigue in your pet.
Giving your dog a Glucosamine supplement can help restore this cushion around the joints, making it easier and more comfortable for your dog to go about the day, and enjoy the things they love the most.
Although your dog can be reluctant to endure their usual daily walks whilst they are in pain, they must maintain some level of physical activity. Although this might not be up to miles they used to do, regular walks will help strengthen the dog’s joints, muscles, and bones.
If you are unsure about what exercise level would be right for your dog in their current situation, it is always advised that you speak to a professional.