Does your dog have stiff joints?


“Stiff joints” is a general term for changes in the joint caused by normal or abnormal wear and tear. Because your dog’s joint pain directly impacts his mobility and how well he’s able to get around, it can have a serious effect on your dog’s quality of life.

For dogs who have stiff joints, the cartilage (the tissues that “cushions” the joint between the bones) is worn away faster than it is replaced. For example, when the cartilage in a dog’s hip joint wears away, mobility decreases, while pain and disability progressively develop. Although stiff joints are not curable, it is possible to improve joint health in your dog with nutrition and exercise.


What causes stiff joints?


There are many reasons why your dog could be experiencing joint pain associated with stiff joints.



As dogs get older, joint cartilage will progressively wear away. Although, while it is much more common in senior dogs, younger dogs can still suffer from stiff joints, too.


Certain breeds are more prone to developing stiff joints. “At-risk” dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers.


Excess weight puts excess stress on your dog’s joints and cartilage, and increases the risk of stiff joints. 


Trauma to cartilage may lead to stiff joints later in life, and adversely affect mobility.


Some breeds may have congenital or hereditary conditions that make them more prone to developing stiff joints later in life.


What are the symptoms of stiff joints?



If you notice any of the following warning signs of joint pain in your dog, then he may be suffering from stiff joints, and you should consider scheduling a consultation with your veterinarian.

  • Stiffness, especially after resting
  • Hesitation to go up and down stairs
  • Lagging behind during walks or tiring easily
  • Preferring to lie down rather than sit or stand
  • Whimpering, growling or snapping when you touch his joints

Joints and exercise

Gentle exercise is extremely good for your dog. Not only will it help keep his joints moving freely, but it will help him stay at a healthy weight and keep excess stress off his joints, which is important to his overall joint health.

The key is to control the amount of exercise, so your dog does not overexert his joints. Given an open space, your dog will usually happily run and run until he can’t any more, due to energy or the way his joints feel, and he may pay the price in terms of pain and limping. But by allowing a little bit of running and then putting him back on his leash for a while and taking a gentle stroll, you can control the exercise and let your dog get enough of a workout to burn off energy and keep his
 joints mobile without causing damage.

Always remember, if you’re worried about your dog getting more exercise than is beneficial, your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on a sensible canine exercise regime.


Choosing the right dog food for joint health


The food your dog eats can also influence his joint health and mobility. Balanced nutrition is an
 essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle for dogs. If you’re concerned about your dog’s joint health, consult with your veterinarian and discuss the best food for your dog’s joint health.



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