Let’s face it: dogs are one of the best parts of our lives. They make us laugh, love us unconditionally, snuggle in bed with us, shed hair on everything we own, and accompany us on our best adventures. But what happens when your buddy starts moving a little slower than they used to?
Lameness in dogs is not uncommon, especially with older dogs or larger breeds. So how can you help your best friend when they have a hard time moving around?
Read on to learn more about lameness in dogs and how you can prevent and manage it.
What Is Lameness?
Before we dive into how to manage your dog’s lameness, let’s talk a little about what lameness is. Believe us, we are not saying your dog is anything less than amazing and perfect. In this context, lameness refers to difficulty moving or using one or more limbs.
There are several things that can cause lameness in dogs, which we’ll discuss more later. Lameness may be temporary, such as when a dog hurts their foot or strains a muscle. In some cases, such as with hip dysplasia, lameness may last the rest of the dog’s life.
Common Causes of Lameness in Dogs & What To Do
There are several common causes of lameness, both temporary and permanent. On the permanent end, hip dysplasia is one of the most common reasons, especially in larger breeds. Osteoarthritis can also cause permanent lameness in older dogs.
Temporary causes of lameness can run the gamut from injuries to sore muscles. Overlong toenails, burned or frostbitten paw pads, and cuts or bruises can all cause lameness. Your dog may also pull a muscle, strain a hip or a knee, or even break a bone.
So what are some best practices for maintaining joint health and mobility?
Keep Your Dog Healthy
One of the best things you can do to keep your dog moving well is to keep them healthy. Obesity is far too common in dogs, and it can put extra strain on their joints, just like in humans. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is a great way to make sure they don’t become lame as they age.
Make sure your dog gets regular exercise and eats a healthy diet. Feed them a quality dog food, and consider switching to a diet recipe if your vet feels they could stand to lose a few pounds. Take them to the dog park regularly or take them on walks — you’ll both have healthier joints for it!
Take Care of Their Feet
Taking care of your dog’s feet is crucial to keeping them healthy and pain-free. You should trim their toenails regularly or have a vet or groomer cut them for you. Nails that are too long can make it painful to walk, not to mention it increases the risk of your dog breaking a nail and permanently damaging their toe.
You also need to make sure your dog’s paw pads are protected from the elements. When it’s just 77 degrees outside, it will take only a minute standing on hot pavement for your dog’s paws to burn. Whether you’re living in snowy weather or warmer climates, make sure your dog’s pads are protected from either burns or frostbite.
Give Them a Joint Supplement
Much like humans, as dogs begin to get older, their joints begin to wear out. Knees and hips can become creaky, and your dog may not want to move around normally. Luckily, vets have figured out specialized joint support supplements designed to protect and lubricate joints. Consider getting your dog on a proper joint care supplement as early as you can – it goes a long way!
Manage Their Pain
If your dog has hip dysplasia or arthritis, they may spend many of their days in pain. This can be hard to watch since you don’t want your buddy to suffer. Dogs that have a lot of life left in them can get relief using pain medications that make their later years happier.
You’ll need to consult with your vet about whether pain medications are the right choice for your dog. They may need to do some blood work to rule out any liver conditions that could make such medications dangerous for your dog.
It’s important to know that progressive diseases like hip dysplasia can get worse so being proactive is key.
Dealing With Long-Term Lameness
If your dog has long-term lameness, there are ways of managing it that give your dog the best possible life. If your dog struggles with traction around the house, consider putting down textured surfaces that they can walk on. You can also get them booties to help give them a little more support when they’re moving around on slick surfaces.
If your dog has trouble getting up from laying down, you can find special slings that will go under their hips and help you lift them up. You may even be able to find a special wheelchair for a dog whose back legs have gone lame. Talk to your vet about the best way to support your dog through their golden years.
When your buddy starts hurting, you just want to make them feel better. Taking care of your pet’s feet and joints can help to prevent and manage lameness in dogs. And if the lameness is permanent, there are ways you can continue to support them throughout the rest of their lives.
If you’d like to find the best supplement to keep your dog’s joints healthy, check out our ‘Complete Joint Care For Dogs‘ supplement. Our fast-acting formulation can help relieve pain and protect your dog’s mobility. It’s the perfect, affordable joint care solution for the vast majority of situations.