It is a distressing fact that many dogs in the US are euthanized each year due to misdiagnosed behavioral aggression. This misdiagnosis may not mean you have a ‘problem dog’ on your hands, it may be pain related to joint problems causing the dog to act the only way he knows how to defend himself.
As mentioned in previous entries, dog joint problems are very common with 1 in 5 dogs in America being affected. Joint problems such as arthritis are often a cause of chronic pain and, as with humans, pain majorly influences temperament in dogs. This then results in some dogs being labelled as aggressive or problem animals when they are really just reacting in defense because they’re in pain.
Dogs aren’t able to communicate to humans verbally that they are in physical pain but they do display symptoms that can be spotted and identified as the early onset of arthritis:
- A decrease in pace when walking
- Limping/obvious lameness in one or more of the limbs
- Difficulty when getting up from resting
- Avoiding physical contact from humans
- Struggling to run, play, climb the stairs and jump
- Out of character snapping, growling or baring teeth
When a dog is suffering from joint problems, the animal may respond aggressively when they are touched or handled which is often out of character. If your dog has started showing behaviors that are out of the ordinary, this may be an indication of pain and your dog’s only way of showing you he needs help. It is recommended that you keep a diary to take note of any unusual behaviors, what they might have been prompted by and what time of day it was. This record will help your Vet understand what behaviors are being displayed and when they are occurring, a better understanding will lead to a more accurate diagnosis.
Pain management is the first positive step to solving the problem of aggression linked with joint pain. Your veterinarian will be able to suggest the best plan of action to relieve pain and help manage the physical symptoms which is likely to eradicate the aggression. understandably, if your dog is showing signs of aggression, it is only normal to consider the safety of your family and the general public when your dog is out. It would be best to be cautious and advise children to not disturb a resting sick dog and to teach them to know what body language is friendly and what are warning signs the dog is unhappy.
Your vet will advise solutions for the aggression if it is still present but euthanasia is the last option for serious behavioral issues and shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly. Noticing the symptoms above and changes in behavior as soon as they become present is the best route to control the situation before it gets out of hand. As ever, if you are concerned about your dog, you can take your dog to your vet or Ask Our Vet any questions about joint problems in dogs.
Statistics show that 1 in 5 dogs in America are suffering from joint problems. One of the most effective ways of having an immediate improvement to your dog’s health and pain management is weight loss, yet it can be one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
It is often a vicious cycle; your dog is overweight which affects the joints, so he’ll want to move less or you might walk him less for fear of more pain, which then creates more weight gain and more joint pain.
Weight loss for your dog helps by reducing the stress placed on joints and the muscles that support those joints. It will also reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Studies have claimed that fat could be considered a pro-inflammatory. By reducing the weight of your dog, the stress on the joints and muscles will be lessened and will give them the chance to heal and strengthen.
Although weight loss won’t cure dog arthritis, it will make the condition easier for your dog to cope with. For less pain and more mobility for your dog, you need to consider diet and exercise:
What do you feed your dog?
It is crucial to feed highly nutritious food without adding a lot of fat-based fillers. The food needs to be high in protein and fiber and low in fat levels. The protein will preserve muscle mass and encourage muscle health whilstthe fiber will help your dog feel fuller for longer. Check the information on your dog food and change it if necessary.
How often is he fed?
Dogs are so often overfed due to owners being unaware of what the correct amount of food for their type/weight is. Read the information on the food and if in doubt, contact your veterinarian. To aid digestion and weight loss, feed small amounts several times a day, rather than one or two large meals a day.
How often are you walking your dog?
You should walk your dog at least twice a day. Stairs, hill walks and treadmills can be incredibly effective as inclines strengthen muscles and joints. If your dog is not being exercised often at the moment, remember to slowly increase the workload to avoid joint inflammation.
Other forms of exercise for your dog:
- Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for dogs with joint issues as they are able to exercise without putting weight on their joints
- Play catch and other games he enjoys
- Non-competitive agility activities could potentially be beneficial. Agility involves dogs to jump, run, climb and weave so if your dog is able to do this safely give it a go, it’s great fun!
Jointcare prescription products for dogs can cause internal damage if used long-term. Prolonged use of prescription medication can cause gastro-intestinal problems and your dog can build up a tolerance to the dosage. This then means to still have visible results, the dosage is increased which poses more of a risk to his digestive system.
To help manage your dog’s pain and increase his mobility, BudgetPetCare has a great range of pets joint supplements. We stock Seraquin, Flexivet and Cosequin which all contain glucosamine hydrochloride and chrondriotin sulphate, ingredients proven to help maintain healthy joints.
This is the first of our many joint care articles we will be posting to help you help your pets. If you enjoyed this article
and want to see the spotlight on anything other topic, please contact BudgetPetCare.