Like humans, when pets grow older their bodies begin to change, and those changes require special health considerations.
Lifestyle management, including exercise and a nutritious diet, can help your dog or cat stay comfortable with age. One of the most common health changes pets experience is one that humans are very familiar with: joint comfort! Just like us, pets require care to keep joints comfortable as they move into their senior years.
What causes joint discomfort in pets?
There are many causes of joint discomfort in dogs and cats.
Large breed dogs, including St. Bernards, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers are only a few dog breeds that may have joint problems due to size.
Being overweight also causes joint discomfort in dogs and cats. Joint injuries are another cause of discomfort. If the injury happened at a young age, it may flare up when they are seniors.
Signs of joint discomfort
Common signs of joint pain and discomfort in dogs and cats include:
- Trouble jumping
- Holding one leg off of the ground
- Moving slowly/stiffly
- Trouble lying down
- Favoring one leg over another
- Refusing to climb stairs or jump on furniture
- Joint swelling
- Difficulty standing
If your pet shows any of these signs, it is best to visit a veterinarian for an exam.
So how we can help our best friends live their best lives in advanced age? Let’s take a look.
Ramps and stairs for improved mobility
Have you ever seen a house outfitted with a ramp to make it easier for the person living there to get inside? Pets benefit from the same care. Ramps for pets can be added to decks and porches to assist with getting into the house. They can also be used for furniture, like couches, beds, and your pet’s favorite chair. There are many foldable pet ramps available for cars, furniture, and the outdoors. Stairs also help pets get onto furniture and into cars easier when compared to jumping.
Medication for joint discomfort
Many pets may require prescription medication from a veterinarian as they live out their golden years.
By conducting a physical exam, a veterinarian will be able to determine the discomfort levels of your dog or cat and will make a recommendation for lifestyle management.
This may include prescription pain relievers. Never give your pet pain relievers without the direction of a veterinarian, as they may have potential side effects.
Supplements for joint care
Keeping your pets moving with light exercise and feeding them a nutritious diet are great ways to help them stay healthy as they age. Nutritional supplements designed specifically for pets are also available. When considering joint supplements for a senior pet, it is important to discuss it with a veterinarian to determine if supplements will be helpful.