Should You Start Giving Your Dog A Hip And Joint Supplement?
Thanks to modern science and medicine, our dogs can live longer than ever. But should hip and joint supplements become part of their everyday lives?
Not all breeds are lucky enough to have resilient joints and healthy bones as they age. Some of them are more prone to developing certain conditions than others. They require proper supplementation from the early years to maintain an active lifestyle.
Now, let's focus on hip and joint supplements while explaining why they are good for your pup and which ones to use.
What is a joint?
We can't start this topic without explaining the basics. Have you ever considered what joints are or how they connect two bones in your pet's body? This is basically the place where bones meet. The ends of the bones are covered with cartilage, which contains a membrane with lubricating fluid.
Ligaments are connective tissue outside the joint that link the bones. Cartilage and fluid have an essential role in protecting the bones from friction. But, as our dogs age, the cartilage wears down and fluid becomes thin. This means less protection and more osteoarthritic and degenerative joint disease, leading your pooch to experience sharp and intense pain. Your dog might need special treatments and additional care to keep their joints in good shape.
Joint care for dogs – how to spot the problem?
Figuratively speaking, there is a good reason why many pet parents start with hip and joint supplements as soon as their dogs can walk. Recent studies have shown that approximately 20% of younger pups and nearly 80% of dogs older than seven years suffer from arthritis.
Even though your four-legged friend might be an active and bouncy creature, they could still experience joint issues. The signs might be subtle, but it's your job to spot any changes in your pet's behaviour.
It all starts with difficulty sitting down or standing up. These are some of the first signs of joint issues. Later on, your dog can experience limping, swollen joints, cracking or popping in the hips, struggling to get into the car or you might notice some changes around the paw area, etc.
Many of these symptoms can be part of ageing or growing, but you shouldn't ignore them. If you are concerned about your pet's health, we suggest heading to the vet immediately.
What breeds are at risk?
It's important to mention that not all breeds are equally susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis and general joint inflammation. Some are at greater risk than others. Since many of them develop bone disorders as they age, here are a couple of breeds that might need extra attention:
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Basset Hounds
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- Catahoula Hounds
- French Bulldogs
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
- Chow Chows
- Labrador Retrievers
- Great Danes
- German Shepherd
This is only to name a few of them. Obviously, there is a large number of breeds involved. You've probably noticed that most of the breeds we've mentioned here are larger dogs and they are more likely to experience hip and joint issues than smaller pups. It doesn’t mean you should neglect small breeds. Check their hip and joint condition occasionally.
How to protect their joints
How you feed your pooch can make a significant difference. A healthy diet will not only affect their gut and digestion but overall health. When selecting proper food, make sure to buy grain-free food. Dry kibble that contains grains can lead to inflammation.
Avoid soy, wheat, and corn. Choose barley and rice instead. Don't only focus on the type of food, but on the amount you give your dog as well. If you control their food intake, you can prevent obesity. Dogs carrying extra weight are prone to injuries.
Supplements are a great thing to add to your pup's daily diet. If your pooch is a larger breed, you should consider giving them supplements as soon as they turn eight weeks of age. For smaller breeds, consult your vet. Nowadays, most supplements are designed for early use and are great to help with growing pain.
Supplements work by repairing cartilage and lubricating and reinforcing the joints. They can minimise pain and decrease inflammation as well.
It's hard to estimate the right level of exercise because every breed acts differently. Modern medicine recommends a five-minute rule. For every month of your pup's age, they should have five minutes of exercise twice a day.
For example, if your pet is four months old, they need to have 20 minutes of exercise twice a day. However, during the development stage between the ages of four and eight months old, avoid:
- Playing catch and receive
- Jumping obstacles
- Rough play
- Long walks
- Running alongside a bike
Why use joint supplements for dogs?
Joint health enables your pooch to lead an active and happy lifestyle. They need to be able to run and walk and overall, experience a life free of pain. Over time, joints can naturally become stiff and painful, affecting your dog's walking and running habits.
Introducing supplements is the best way to restore their activity level. In fact, many pet parents start using supplements as a preventive measure, which is a great way to help your pup avoid bone and joint disorders. We recommend consulting your vet before making any changes. You can choose between supplements in powder form and chews.
How to choose the best hip and joint supplement for dogs?
The product you choose to buy needs to have certain active ingredients to be able to help. Therefore, we suggest paying attention to the following:
Did you know that a dog's body naturally produces glucosamine? But, as your furry companion ages, the production of glucosamine decreases. That's why many hip and joint supplements contain this compound which is usually prescribed in many treatments.
Also, tons of scientific studies have proven that glucosamine minimises the progression of arthritis while lubricating joints.
MSM is often promoted as a joint healer, known for its ability to decrease inflammation, block pain and strengthen connective tissue. It’s another important compound present in many joint healing treatments.
As a natural pain reliever, MSM will stop the pain signals from reaching the brain. MSM will affect cortisol as well, which is a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. By reducing inflammation and pain, you are helping your dog live a happy life.
Another ingredient common in the hip and joint supplements, chondroitin, maintains the pup's natural joint lubrication, while reducing inflammation. The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin is great for relieving pain.
Meanwhile, the chondroitin will prevent any further damage while working on repairing and maintaining your pet's joints. Dog food that targets hip and joint diseases usually contains this supplement.
Vitamin C has shown remarkable results in the production of collagen, which slows down spinal disorders, hip dysplasia, and degenerative joint disease. It basically acts as an antioxidant, preventing the deterioration of cells and helping your dog have a healthy and active life. All these features make vitamin C one of the most important vitamins in your dog’s diet.
Grape seed extract
Another powerful antioxidant, grape seed extract, can minimise pain and swelling caused by arthritis. That's why many popular supplements contain this compound.
Manganese works by activating enzymes in your dog's body, ensuring optimal metabolic function. Weak tendons and ligaments can be signs of manganese deficiency. Without manganese, your dog's body won't be able to produce collagen, which further leads to soft tissue damage.
If you want your dog to have healthy bones, joints and cartilage, make sure they receive proper levels of manganese.
L-Glutathione, or king of antioxidants as many call it, is a powerful protein compound composed of three amino acids. L- Glutathione controls inflammation processes in your pet's body and by intaking this antioxidant, your furry companion can avoid chronic inflammation and have better immune function.
Vitamin E is a crucial part of the canine diet and can minimise pain in the early stages of a dog's osteoarthritis. While many dog foods already contain vitamin E, you can always add supplements to their diet or shop for vitamin E chews.
Dogs are picky and if they smell something different in their food, they will not touch it. That's why playing it safe is the best option. You could choose a beef flavour and save yourself a lot of trouble. You won't have to hide supplements into their meals because they will devour it instantly.
Powder supplements are quite popular and well-accepted among dogs. You could give your pets dog food that contains all necessary supplements or simply opt for chews. Shop for a product you believe is best for your dog. While food and chews could be a great option, supplements with active ingredients might be better.
Prevention is crucial
Being proactive about your pet's health is still important, especially if you want to start with dog joint supplements before your furry companion reaches a certain age. Just because small breeds are less affected, it doesn't mean they can't develop hip and joint disorders.
As your puppy gets older, its body's ability to produce essential proteins that strengthen joints minimises significantly. This leaves them at risk of developing dog arthritis and various hip joint disorders.
But if your pet continuously produces these proteins with the help of hip and joint vitamins & supplements, their chances of developing any joint-related condition drop dramatically.
Pets don't always show pain
Dogs don't cry and through the years, they have evolved to hide the pain. According to their pack mentality, pain is a weakness and liability. Even if your pet is experiencing joint discomfort, it might not rather show it.
It has been estimated that many senior dogs have arthritis. If you want to take care of your puppy properly, start giving them high-quality joint supplements before they reach their golden years.
Deal with obesity
Obesity in dogs is absolutely unacceptable and it's the number one root cause of hip and joint issues. When canines are overweight, it dramatically decreases their quality of life. Too much weight puts pressure on the dog's joints, leading to pain and inactivity.
To get your dog to a healthy weight, start giving them dog food that is specifically designed to address this issue.
When to start with a dog joint supplement?
There is no particular age. There are supplements designed for all ages and every breed, since pets can develop hip and joint diseases at any point. It's up to you to estimate your dog's health condition and work with your vet to find the best solution for their needs.
Supplements work great in preventing many degenerative bone diseases, so it's a good idea to support their health sooner rather than later, right?
The most common form of supplement is a joint powder for dogs. While powders are convenient for use, it's important to get a product that promotes joint health, reduces inflammation, relieves pain and improves mobility. This product may minimise the signs of arthritis dogs feel.
As we mentioned earlier, hip and joint supplements have become an important part of dogs’ everyday life, if not as a cure, then as prevention. So, what are you waiting for? Go grab your favourite brand, shop for supplements that you trust the most and help your pet lead an active and pain-free life.