Under the influence of COVID-19, most areas of the world have experienced long-term lockdowns. When the epidemic shows signs of slowly improving, the lockdown ban has also been relaxed. After the lockdown, have you found your pets act a bit differently?
Studies have shown that the lockdown has caused frequent joint problems in pets. Do you think it is caused by pets being kept at home and unable to exercise?
Well, it could be caused by excessive exercise.
The lockdown policy of different countries restraint people from going outside. However, families with dogs are exceptional.
Walking their dog is the perfect excuse, and some families have been taking their pet out half a dozen times a day, according to a news report from the MIRROR.
For older dogs, they cannot carry so much activity.
Of course, insufficient exercise is a major cause of arthritis, especially for those dog breeds who need to go out for at least two hours daily.
Another situation is that after a long period of lockdown. Some dog owners consider compensating their dogs for intensive training or spend extended time playing with them.
At this time, a sudden increase in exercise volume is also hazardous.
The veterinarian reminded all the dog owners that in the current epidemic situation, we must pay more attention to the joint health of your dogs!
What is arthritis?
Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is a degenerative, progressive, and irreversible condition of the joints and is a common problem for many dogs. It is characterized by the gradual loss of joint cartilage, bony spurs/growths, and the thickening and scarring of connective tissue around the joint.
Approximately 25% of dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis, and dogs with arthritis may feel as uncomfortable as humans with the same disease.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
We concluded earlier that insufficient exercise, excessive exercise, or a sudden increase in the amount of exercise would increase the possibility of dog joint problems.
In addition, there are many diseases that affect the joints of dogs. These include ligament, tendon or muscle diseases, fractures, developmental disorders and obesity.
Typically arthritis is a problem seen in older dogs, but the condition can develop from an early age following problems with bone and joint development.
How can I tell if my dog suffering from arthritis?
Most of you will no doubt know of a dog suffering from arthritis that has shown the textbook signs of pain, discomfort and stiffness.
In a milder case, when walking dogs, they may not be as keen to exercise as they were in the past, or they often walk slowly behind you, wanting to stop and rest from time to time. At that time, don't force them, let them rest and go home.
In severe cases, the dog may show lameness, obvious stiffness, swollen joints, and visible deformities in the joints.
Weight gain, irritableness, loss of appetite and not being as enthusiastic about exercise as in the past are also signs of arthritis. But these may not be obvious changes that can be observed.
Some dogs may even lick their painful joints continuously, so occasionally they may cause saliva stains at the joints. This is an obvious situation that requires extra attention.
Treatment, Management, and Prevention
Although there have been a number of products (including supplements and drugs) to ease your dog’s symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, there isn’t any way to reverse the physical changes, such as looseness found in joints, bone/cartilage loss or deterioration, and other related symptoms.
There is no doubt that none of us want to go for the solution of surgery.
Surgery may be an effective method, but it not only brings extra discomfort to the dog, but also cost-prohibitive.
Therefore, the primary goal for pet owners is to maintain healthy bones and joints.
- Creating an Exercise Routine
Consider the dog's type, age, and daily habits, develop a suitable, regular and continuous exercise method.
During the epidemic, you can consider unlocking the fun of playing indoors with the dog. Tug of war, treat and seek, and hide and seek with the owner are all good ways to help the dogs drain their energy. Also, use the lockdown opportunity to interact with your dog could bond your relationship closer.
- Adding some nutrients that are beneficial to joints
Glucosamine is a combination of glutamine (amino acid) and glucose (sugar).
Your dog's body naturally produces its own glucosamine. This is a substance that helps create molecules that form articular cartilage. But as your dog gets older, this ingredient becomes less and less in the body.
Adding glucosamine supplements can repair damaged cartilage and tissues. It can also help strengthen or replace lost joint fluid and help joints slide without pain.
Chondroitin is the main glycosaminoglycan found in cartilage. It is usually combined with glucosamine to double the capacity.
Chondroitin can help inhibit destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage, help the body repair damaged cartilage and restore joint integrity, and also help joint shock absorption.
Both glucosamine and chondroitin can be easily found in pet stores.
- Following A Diet & Weight Management Plan
Following the veterinarian's guidance, developing a weight management plan is essential to the health of any dog with arthritis, especially for dogs that already have obesity problems.
The heavier the dog, the more pressure it puts on the bones and joints, and the more burden on the body. Sometimes a greater range of movements can cause ligament strains in dogs.
Maintaining an ideal and healthy dog weight can greatly reduce the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.
- Avoid damaging bones and joints in daily activities
Many people don't realize that dogs' daily eating and drinking can damage their joints.
For some big dogs, if you put their eating and drinking bowls on the ground, their back and neck joints will wear out after a period of time, because they need to keep their heads down constantly.
So simply raising the food bowl and drinking bowl can make them eat more comfortably, while the joints are also protected.
In addition, some apartments or houses with stairs. Dogs go up and down the stairs for a long time, especially for dogs with short legs, such as Corgis, Dachshunds, Basset hounds, etc., their lumbar spine and limb joints will be extremely burdened.
According to a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience, there are nearly 90 cases of severe arthritis of the lumbar spurs and hind limbs received on average every year. And more than 80% of dogs are caused by the long-term neglect of hazards when going up and downstairs.
Therefore, if you live in an apartment, try to use the elevator, and in a house with stairs, install a stair baffle to reduce the dog's frequent climbing of the staircases.
Or, the seemingly subtle behavior of dogs who often jump on the car, bed or sofa can also cause irreversible effects on their joints.
Try to train the dog to avoid this behavior, or consider installing a ramp to let the dog walk up slowly.
In the end, we would like to remind pet owners again, not to allow your dog to act recklessly while they are young. The injury of arthritis is irreversible. Monitoring their joint health from puppies, so that they will not suffer from pain when getting old.