How to help a dog with stiff joints in legs

Updated July 19, 2017

As your dog ages, you may begin to notice that he's moving a bit slower. He still loves the walks, the tennis balls and the car rides, but it may take a little less effort to get him to turn around and head home or drop the ball and come inside. It's a normal part of the ageing process, but canine joint pain can be prevented, reduced or controlled with a healthy lifestyle and the use of supplements.

Support her joints with supplements. Glucosamine chondroitin, the popular human joint supplement, is helpful for dogs, too. These supplements slow the degradation of cartilage and, according to Christopher Byron, DVM, at the University of Illinois Veterinary Hospital, "can help slow progression of osteoarthritis if used in the early stages of the disease."

Give her a lift. Climbing stairs and getting into the car may be a struggle, so keep an eye on these two trouble spots. For larger dogs, a stair-climbing sling can make the climb upstairs easier and foldable ramps let her walk into the car rather than making her execute a fancy jump. Smaller dogs may need some help, too, but use caution and lift them using your legs. Even small dogs can develop enough torque to throw you off balance.

Keep him moving. According to R.M. Clemmons, DVM, of the University of Florida, "in dogs with a breed or familial predisposition for developing DJD (degenerative joint disease), regular exercise, good nutrition and supplemental support may moderate or forestall the development of joint disease."

Maintain a healthy weight. Larger dogs, in particular, suffer from weight-related arthritis and joint pain and are more susceptible than small dogs. University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine information states that "the severity of arthritis is a function of the animal's weight, which puts stress on the joints."

To determine if your dog is overweight, run your hands down her sides. If you can feel her ribs with a light layer of flesh, she is at a healthy weight. If all you feel is flesh--it's time to diet.

Relieve pain with NSAIDs. Veterinary strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide significant relief from arthritis pain but the must be used with caution. Never give human pain relief formulations to your dog. If your dog is prescribed NSAIDs, watch him closely for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, extreme thirst or lethargy. Discontinue use immediately and contact your veterinarian.

Things You'll Need

  • Glucosamine chondroitin
  • Mobility aids
  • NSAIDs
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