How Joint Health Affects Mobility and Quality of Life in Dogs

Dec 14, 2023

Joint health in dogs is a critical aspect of their overall well-being. It significantly affects their mobility and, in turn, their quality of life. It’s up to us to help them be their healthiest and happiest, and we’re up to the challenge!

Dog Joint Health

Dog joints are made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, synovial fluid, and soft tissues, which are crucial for movement and weight-bearing. Healthy joints are vital for a dog’s ability to move, run, jump, and play. Age, breed, weight, and lifestyle are significant risk factors for joint issues. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are pivotal in maintaining joint health​​ and to preserve joint function. Basically, your dog’s joints keep them moving and grooving and living their best lives with you!

Dog Joint Health and Large Breeds

Joint health in dogs is intricately linked to their breed, size, and lifestyle. Large breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers, are particularly susceptible to joint issues due to their size and bone structure. The larger the dog, the more strain is placed on its joints, especially the hip and elbow joints, which bear the bulk of the dog’s weight. This added stress can accelerate the wear and tear of cartilage and increase the risk of joint-related conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition more common in large breeds, where the hip joints don’t fit together perfectly, leading to painful arthritis as the dog gets older. Prevention and early intervention, including maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and monitoring for signs of joint discomfort, are key to managing these serious disease risks. A tailored exercise routine is super important, as it strengthens the muscles around the joints, providing better support and reducing the impact on the joints themselves​​​​. It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to recommend supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and other research-based ingredients that can also support joint health.

Small Breed Joint Issues and Quality of LifeTwo beagles run and play happily in a field

While large breeds are often highlighted for their susceptibility to joint issues, small breeds face their own degenerative joint disease and health challenges. Conditions like patellar luxation, where the kneecap dislocates, are more common in small breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas. This condition can cause pain and intermittent lameness, which really affects the dog’s mobility and quality of life.

Small breeds may also be prone to early onset of degenerative joint diseases due to their faster growth rates and the stress on their smaller joints. These joint problems can lead to chronic pain, which in turn affects the dog’s mood and behavior, potentially leading to anxiety and reduced interaction with other dogs, their environment and caregivers.

Managing joint health in small breeds often involves maintaining an ideal body weight to reduce stress on their joints, regular low-impact exercise to keep their joints healthy, and dietary strategies to support joint health. Regular check-ups and early intervention, when signs of joint pain are noticed, are crucial in managing these conditions​​​​.

Canine Mobility

Joint and mobility issues in dogs can result from conditions affecting the bones, muscles, ligaments, and cartilage, leading to discomfort, pain, and limited mobility. Various factors like genetics, nutrition, and exercise significantly influence joint health. Early recognition and appropriate care are key to managing these conditions effectively​​.

Symptoms of Joint Pain in Dogs

Identifying the signs of joint pain in dogs is crucial for early intervention and effective management. Here are some common symptoms, each described in depth:

  •   Limping or Favoring a Leg: This may be one of a dogs’ first signs of joint pain. Limping can occur when a dog is in pain while moving, and it may be more noticeable after they rest following activity​​.
  •   Stiffness or Difficulty Getting Up: Dogs with joint pain may have trouble standing up from a lying or sitting position. This stiffness can be particularly evident in the morning or after naps​​.
  •   Reluctance to Jump or Run: Due to discomfort, dogs experiencing joint pain may show less interest in activities they once enjoyed, like jumping or running​​.
  •   Swelling or Tenderness Around Joints: Inflammation can cause the joints to swell and become tender, which can sometimes be observed or felt​​.
  •   Behavioral Changes: Dogs in pain may exhibit behavioral changes such as irritability, decreased interest in activities, or changes in interaction with family members​​.
  •   Muscle Atrophy: Lack of use of the affected limb can lead to muscle wastage over time, a sign that the dog avoids putting weight on a painful joint​​.
  •   Licking Affected Joints: Dogs often lick areas that are in pain. Frequent licking of a particular joint can be a sign of underlying joint pain​​.

These symptoms can be early signs of joint issues, particularly in older dogs. Early diagnosis and intervention can help manage pain, improve mobility, and maintain a better quality of life for dogs suffering from joint pain. The more we may be able to help prevent, the better the dog’s quality of life overall.

Poor Canine Mobility, Mental Health, and Quality of Life

The relationship between a dog’s mobility and mental health is significant. Dogs are naturally active animals and engaging animals, and limitations in mobility due to joint issues can decrease their ability to engage in normal activities. This reduction in activity can profoundly impact a dog’s mental well-being and overall outlook. Dogs with restricted mobility may show signs of depression, anxiety, and irritability. They may become withdrawn, show less interest in play or interaction, and exhibit changes in temperament.

More, chronic pain from joint issues can exacerbate these mental health challenges. Dogs experiencing constant discomfort may become more aggressive or unusually passive. They just don’t have the heart or desire the pain to continue engaging in their regular life. This mental impact of chronic pain is not to be underestimated, as it can profoundly affect their overall quality of life.

To reduce these risks, we like to focus on helping keep it away in the first place. Sometimes, under a vet’s care, pain management strategies, such as the use of NSAIDs and other pain-relieving medications, can help reduce inflammation and decrease pain that causes them mental unrest. Physical therapies like hydrotherapy and massage can improve joint mobility and reduce pain, positively contributing to a dog’s mental health. Regular mental stimulation, through gentle play and interaction, can help maintain a positive mental state in dogs with limited mobility​​​​.

The emotional well-being of dogs is closely linked to their ability to be mobile and perform their roles. A study investigating the impact of the end of a guide dog partnership on handlers found that the loss can significantly affect the handler and dog’s health and quality of life, highlighting the deep connection between a dog’s purpose, its mobility, and its psychological state. The loss of mobility in dogs may make them feel as if they’re not fulfilling their purpose, and can lead to feelings of grief and loss, underscoring the intricate tie between their physical capabilities and mental health.

That’s why we work to keep them healthy from the inside out–in their gut, their joints and their mind.

Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis (OA), is a common joint condition in dogs, affecting a significant percentage of the canine population. It can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, impacting their daily activities and quality of life. Effective management of arthritis includes a combination of medication, diet, exercise, and possibly surgical interventions​​.

Dog Exercise for Joint HealthA beautiful dog looks happily at its owner because its taking care of her

Regular, low-impact exercises like walking and swimming are crucial for maintaining joint health. They help strengthen muscles, improve joint flexibility, and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise routines should be tailored to each dog’s specific needs, considering factors like age, breed, and health conditions​​. They’re definitely necessary for keeping your dog moving and also mentally healthy.

Senior Dog Care

As dogs age, they become more susceptible to joint issues. It is essential to provide them with a diet rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate, which support joint health. Senior dogs also benefit from tailored exercise programs and regular veterinary check-ups to manage any emerging joint issues​​.

Pet Health

General pet health, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, plays a significant role in preventing and managing joint problems. Obesity is a known risk factor for canine arthritis, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial. A diet low in calories and high in essential nutrients is beneficial for dogs with joint issues​​.

Canine Orthopedic Care

Orthopedic care, including physical therapy and possibly surgery, can be necessary for dogs with severe joint issues. Treatments aim to reduce pain, keep joint function, improve mobility, and enhance the quality of life. Veterinarians use various diagnostic tools like X-rays and CT scans for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning​​.

Quality of Life for Dogs

Addressing joint and mobility problems is crucial for enhancing their quality of life. Untreated joint issues can lead to chronic pain, decreased physical activity, and reduced happiness. Comprehensive care, including prevention, diet, exercise, and medical interventions as deemed necessary by a vet, is essential to improve their quality of life​​.

When our dogs are mobile, they’re able to do all the dog things. When they’re struggling from joint issues, it’s hard for them. It’s important to rely on current scientific evidence when choosing supplements or dietary additions to improve joint health and mobility in dogs. While glucosamine and chondroitin have been traditional go-to’s for joint support, there’s not a lot of published research that supports them as the most effective and natural ways to help joint health in dogs. In fact, current research suggests other ingredients in joint supplements may offer more potent benefits.

Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Marvelous Mobility: Healthy Joints and Mobility For Our Best Friends

At Bernie’s Best, the love for our own dogs and the desire to provide them with the best possible care is what fuels our commitment. We understand that mobility is a key factor in a dog’s happiness and quality of life. This understanding led us to seek out ingredients backed by the most current and relevant science to support canine joint health.

For Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Marvelous Mobility, we focused on ingredients that go beyond the traditional offerings of glucosamine and chondroitin. Our mission was to find ingredients with solid and scientific backing that could offer more comprehensive support for our dogs’ mobility.

Omega-3 fatty acids, sourced from flaxseed, anchovy, and algal oil, are celebrated for their anti-inflammatory effects which can alleviate joint pain and improve mobility in dogs. Including green-lipped mussels in our formula brings a powerful combination of unique omega-3s and other joint-supporting compounds to the table, providing a natural and potent aid for joint inflammation and discomfort. Green lipped mussel is more and more a recommended must in dog diets by veterinarians in both food and supplementation.

We also incorporated turmeric, or more specifically curcumin, the active compound within, which has been recognized for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. This has been researched for its potential in treating canine osteoarthritis and is becoming increasingly noted for its beneficial effects on joint health.

Antioxidants like astaxanthin and essential vitamins offer protection against oxidative stress, which can contribute to joint deterioration. These components work to preserve the integrity of joint tissues and support overall well-being. A study found that supplementation with deep sea fish oil improved diverse markers of oxidative status in dogs with osteoarthritis. The study suggested that fish oil supplementation could be beneficial in managing oxidative stress related to osteoarthritis in dogs.

Undenatured type-II collagen was selected for its unique action in joint health, potentially helping against joint disease and slowing the progression of arthritis by desensitizing the immune system to the type of collagen found in joint cartilage.

Another superstar ingredient is Boswellia. Research has found significant reductions in clinical signs such as intermittent lameness, local pain, and stiff gait after six weeks of treatment with the resin extract. Additionally, success in treating osteoarthritis in humans is another reason we chose Boswellia serrata, as its ability to improve pain scores and physical ability significantly was impressive in studies.

When we understand the importance of maintaining a dog’s mobility and joint health, we may be able to help prevent potential declines in mental health. This is why joint health is vital for their overall well-being. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and veterinary care play significant roles in supporting a dog’s joint health and, consequently, their mental and emotional well-being.

Our passion for pets drives us to continuously explore and harness the best of science to ensure that every ingredient in Bernie’s Healthy Hips and Marvelous Mobility serves a purpose. We strive to share this passion and these benefits with other dog families who want the same for their furry family members. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about sharing a part of our hearts with others who love their dogs just as much, and want them to live their happiest, healthiest lives.

Sign up now to receive the latest updates via email.