Joints are the places in a dog’s body where bones come together. Bones are connected by cartilage, membranes, and fluid that allow for movement. Just like with people, time and injury can take a toll on a dog’s joints resulting in pain, weakness, and adverse health conditions.
In the following, we’ll discuss steps that can be taken to ensure overall dog joint health and stability for pups of all ages, as well as dog leg joint terms and common dog joint problems and injuries.
Dog Joint Health Recommendations, Supplements, and Treatment
Diet and Exercise
The best way to prevent dog joint health issues is by being proactive. As is often the case with people, the simplest health regimens are often the best: diet and exercise. Obesity puts a significant strain on a dogs’ musculoskeletal system and increases their likelihood of joint injuries and pain, so conscientious fur-parents want to keep their dogs at a healthy weight.
We spoke to holistic veterinarian Dr. Laurel of Sunvet Animal Wellness to get some specific joint health tips for caretakers.
Dr. Laurel’s Healthy Diet Tips for Healthy Joints
- Puppies – Do not overfeed. This causes puppies to grow too rapidly and puts too much stress on their joints, which can injure them for life.
- Adult dogs – Overfeeding decreases older dogs’ will to exercise, puts stress on their musculoskeletal system, and increases body congestion and inflammation.
- Diet – Consider a diet closer to Paleo, which means fewer or no carbs. This will normalize weight and decreases inflammation. Exercise – Remember, animals want to exercise and move their bodies, and it’s up to you to ensure they do so.
Supplements For Joint Health and Joint Pain
The main objective of supplements is to reduce joint inflammation, strengthen joints, and relieve pain. If your pup is already suffering from joint-related health conditions, considered the following supplements recommended by Dr. Laurel.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help rebuild soft tissue
- Glucosamine (tablets or injectable) – a naturally occurring compound in dogs that is good for joint lubrication and overall cartilage health
- CBD Oil – a cannabinoid that is an excellent anti-inflammatory supplement
- Trixsyn – a hyaluronic acid supplement that helps plump up the cartilage that lines each joint.
- DGP (Dog Gone Pain) – a mix of warming herbs and nutraceuticals
- Fish oils – rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and decreases inflammation
- Ligaplex II – a mix of animal parts and plants that support the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
While many joint-related conditions can’t be cured, there are additional noninvasive healing strategies that can reduce inflammation and pain.
Cold Laser Therapy
Laser treatment for dogs uses deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions called photobiostimulation that releases endorphins and stimulates cells.
“Cold Laser works to decrease inflammation and increase blood flow to the areas we treat, which encourages cell regeneration and healing. It’s a great modality for older dogs with aches and pains or for animals with more acute joint injuries.”Dr. Laurel, Sunvet Animal Wellness
Many dogs also respond well to acupuncture to alleviate joint pain and inflammation and to promote healing. Many acupuncturists who work on humans are also certified to work on animals.
Orthopedic Dog Braces to Support Joint Stability
In many cases, orthopedic dog braces can support joint stability for dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint-related health concerns. Dog leg braces help support dogs by alleviating pressure on the joints and allowing for pain-free movement and healing. Ortho Dog offers three braces that support joint health and stability.
- Cruciate Care Knee Brace – this brace can help dogs experiencing arthritis in the knee joint as well as luxating patellas, or torn CCLs.
- Hip Hound Brace – this brace can help dogs experiencing hip dysplasia and arthritis in the hip joint.
- Hock Holder – this brace can help dogs experiencing arthritis in the hock joint
- Wrist Wrap – this brace can help dogs experience wrist-related joint injuries.
Regular Care and Check-Ups
Be sure to bring your dog to the vet for wellness appointments regularly. Dr. Laurel recommends once per year for adults and every six months for senior animals over ten. This will help your veterinarian spot any subtle signs of joint pain or discomfort and intervene.
Types of Dog Leg Joints and Common Joint Issues
There are three categories of dog joints:
- Synovial – free-moving joints that support the greatest range of movement
- Fibrous – fixed joints connected by tough tissue
- Cartilaginous – joints jointed by cartilage
The most common dog joint issue is arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of joints, often due to a loss of cartilage or tissue that causes bones to rub against one another. Learn more about symptoms of arthritis.
Arthritis is a progressive disorder, meaning it will often get worse over time. Older dogs, or dogs that have experienced injuries, are more susceptible to developing arthritis. Additionally, many other joint conditions like patellar luxation and hip dysplasia can develop into arthritis.
Many joint problems are specific to the different joints in dogs’ legs.
Hock joint – The canine hock joint is located on a dog’s hind leg below the stifle (knee). The hock joint is the equivalent of the ankle joint and connects the shin bones to the bones of the paw.
Common dog hock joint issues include dislocation, sprains, and arthritis.
Learn more about common dog hock joint injuries and treatments.
Stifle joint – A dog’s stifle joint is the equivalent of a knee joint in the hind legs. The stifle joint connects the femur, patella, and tibia bones. A stifle joint is sometimes referred to as the ACL joint or CCL joint (though that is not technically accurate).
Common stifle joint issues include patellar luxation, torn CCL(ACL), sprains, and arthritis.
Learn more about stifle braces and torn ACLs.
Learn more about patellar luxation.
Elbow joint – A dog’s elbow joint is in the front legs and connects the radius, ulna, and humerus bones.
Common elbow joint issues include elbow dysplasia.
Carpal joints – The carpal joint is a dog’s wrist joint and connects all the bones of the front paws with the rest of the front leg.
Common carpal joint issues include carpal hyperextension and sprains.
Learn more about dog wrist conditions and treatments.
Hip joint – the dog hip joint is much like the human hip joint in that it is a ball and socket joint that connects the femur and the pelvis.
Common hip joint issues include hip dysplasia.
Learn more about dog hip dysplasia.
Learn more about dog leg anatomy.
Common Symptoms of Dog Joint Issues
The symptoms of most joint issues and arthritis are similar, so be careful to note where your dog is showing symptoms. For example, is your dog regularly holding up his front leg? Not putting pressure on the hind leg? Licking the ankle? Take a careful look, so you can better communicate with your veterinarian about what joint pain or inflammation symptoms are present.
Additional symptoms include:
- Swelling at the joint
- Signs of pain
- Licking leg joints
- Redness around the joint
If you live in the Asheville area and want to help your dog with improved joint health, consider getting in touch with Sunvet Animal Wellness. Dr. Laurel can work with you to provide a non-invasive and holistic care regimen to get your pup back on his or her feet.
The American Kennel Club also provides great resources on canine osteoarthritis and other joint-related health conditions.
If you are interested in learning more about whether or not an orthopedic brace can help your pup, please get in touch with our team at Ortho Dog. We love dogs!