Factors of Joint Discomfort in Your Senior Dog
By: Robin Noble
As your canine companion gets older, you may notice that they’re slowing down a bit more than usual. Maybe their once playful demeanor has lessened into a quieter, calmer one. If your dog is currently entering that more mature age in their life, it’s time to start paying greater attention to their comfort levels, making sure that those later years are filled with warmth, happiness, and good health. More than likely, the daily routine you’ve kept with your pet is slowly but surely shifting. As our pets slow down, it’s time to access the changes we can make for them.
If you’ve cared for your dog since they were a puppy, you’ve likely noticed changes throughout their life with food taste and appetite levels. Because of this, if you notice something off about their appetite, it’s important to be aware of their past and current body condition. As your pet gets older, they’re more likely to become overweight and underweight. If you’re unclear on how to tell if this is happening with your pet, it may be a good time to ask your vet to teach you how to evaluate your pet’s body condition at home.
It’s more likely that your pet will become overweight as they mature. The same amount of daily food, occasional treats, and less frequent exercise are all fuel to propel significant weight gain. Of course, just as a person has higher chances of medical conditions arising with major weight gain, so does your dog. If your canine friend is carrying more weight, they may be at risk of major issues like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
The same can be said for a dog that is underweight. Although medical conditions could be different, drastic and sudden weight loss should never be taken lightly. It could mean something more serious is going on than a picky eater no longer wanting their normal meals. If your pet is eating and drinking normally, but still seems to be losing weight, it’s time to make an appointment with their vet.
Eventually, your pet will begin to show the signs of joint discomfort that comes with age. You may have noticed a change in energy level, or even discomfort in your pet as they get up from laying done or playing catch. Although it’s likely that your dog is simply experiencing typical joint pain, it could also be something more serious like arthritis. Of course, if you notice your dog’s gait becoming increasingly lame, it’s time to talk to their vet about what the likely cause is. Increasing their comfort could be as simple as a diet change, or supplementing their food with fortified fatty acids to help with arthritis and other mobility issues. If you notice joint pain becoming frequently severe, remember that it could be more than a normal sign of old age. Talk to their vet about supplements, diet, but also have them explain how to access if joints are swelled or inflamed.
Exercising With Joint Pain
Joint pain could be the contributing factor to a pet that seems to suddenly dislike the daily activities they once loved partaking in. Although your pet might not be as spry and exciteable as they once were, it doesn’t mean you have to stop promoting their health through exercise. Many pet owners make the common mistake of ceasing activity when their dogs begin to act “lazier”. It may seem like a good idea to just let them bask in the sun all day, or lay on their favorite bed, but it’s still a good idea to get your pet up and moving purposefully in small increments throughout the day. Not only is this important to make sure your pet doesn’t become overweight due to lack of exercise, but you can be certain that any joint pain isn’t being directly caused by weight gain. Exercise, like a casual walk around the neighborhood, can be what your pet needs to stretch out their limbs and alleviate their pain.
As our dogs mature, it becomes clearer than before that they need and appreciate our companionship as much as we do theirs. Your patience and presence will come in handy as their bodies and demeanors shift. Know the signs of discomfort so you can act quickly once you see it begin. Dogs can live happy and comfortable lives well into their mature years, so long as owners are paying attention to the potential signs of pain and distress.