As our dogs get older, they become more prone to arthritis and other joint problems. Bigger dogs are more likely to get arthritis than smaller dogs and many purebred breeds are also prone to joint problems. The first sign is a decrease in activity. Maybe he doesn’t run or play as much as he used too. He could also have a hard time with the stairs or getting on the couch or into the car. If it continues, the next sign would be that he would start limping or stop using one of his legs all together.
Like most medical issues, preventative care is the best way to go. Ensuring that your dog is at a healthy weight and active will help to prevent arthritis. Fat aggravates arthritis and the extra weight will put pressure on those aching joints. Alternatively, muscle helps to protect the joints.
If your dog is showing signs of arthritis then you will need to get it checked out and come up with a treatment plan with your veterinarian. The ultimate goal is to get your dog moving again and to be active, but in the beginning you should limit his activity and make sure that he is at optimal weight. Your vet can help put together a diet and exercise plan that will work best for your dog. You may also switch to a specialty joint health dog food or add glucosamine or fish oil medications.
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