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Published: Jan 30, 2013

If you did your research before adopting a puppy, you might be aware of the increased risk some breeds have of joint conditions like arthritis. Purebred dogs in particular tend to be more prone to painful conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia as they age, but there are things you can do as an owner to prevent damage to your pet's joints and protect them as they age.

Which breeds are at risk?
Large breeds such as purebred retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs, St. Bernards and Great Danes are at risk of arthritis and hip and elbow dysplasia, but small breeds can be too, particularly those bred to have short legs. Small dogs of any age can suffer from patellar luxation, a birth defect in which the kneecap pops out, causing the knee to lock. Dachshunds, bulldogs and basset hounds are all genetically predisposed to certain joint and elbow disorders.

It is important to remember that while some dogs have a higher risk of developing these conditions, any breed is subject to dog hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis and other joint problems. During your puppy's initial visits to the veterinarian, ask whether he might be particularly at risk.

How can I prevent damage?
When raising puppies, owners have the opportunity to prevent some damage. Generally, it's a good idea not to let your puppy jump from high heights before age 1. During this time, his joints and bones are still developing, and trauma can increase the risk of arthritis in dogs. Although play and exercise are an important part of any puppy's daily life, avoiding too much high-impact, rough play could protect the joints and bones.

VCA Animal hospitals reports owners can try to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs, especially larger breeds, by feeding them a special diet during their first year of life.

How can I protect the joints?
In addition to limiting your dog's activity, you can protect his joints with certain supplements. If your veterinarian thinks your dog has a high risk of joint problems, he or she may recommend giving him glucosamine supplements to promote cartilage in the joints.

As your dog ages, many veterinarians will recommend these supplements as a way of treating pain in dogs. The way they support cartilage in the joints can relieve some of the pain and inflammation caused by joint conditions.