VCA Village Animal Hospital

How can I protect my puppy's joints?

Published: Jan 30, 2013

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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.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.

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