Is your dog in pain? How can you tell if your older pet is hurting? And what can you do about it? If you own a senior dog, a dog that is 9-years-old or older, you may think you see something that you should be concerned about. But how can you know whether or not there really is cause for concern so that you can help them if they need it?
Be on the Lookout for Any Cause for Concern in Your Senior Dog
Some troubles that affect mature dogs are common to a breed or breeds and can be expected, such as hip problems in German Shepherds, for example. As the owner, you are responsible to be on the lookout for any cause for concern in your senior dog. For they depend on you! Your animal trusts you to feed them and take good care of them. Don’t let them down!
Hip and Joint Problems to be Aware of
Sometimes it helps if you know what cause for concern you should be on the lookout for. There are numerous possibilities, but here are a few common causes that you may or may not already be aware of:
Hip dysplasia –
Hip dysplasia is extremely painful for your dog and heartbreaking for you as the owner to have to watch as your dog suffers. In hip dysplasia, your dog’s hip socket has not formed properly. Improper formation of the hip socket results in damage and arthritis from the poor fit. Breeds such as the Labrador retriever, German shepherd, golden retriever, and Newfoundland are prone to this condition, but other breeds can also be affected. The earlier hip dysplasia is diagnosed, the more options are available to you for treatment of your dog’s condition. Treatments include surgery, medications, and supplements.
This is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is a degenerative, chronic condition known as ‘wear and tear' arthritis. The protective cartilage covering the ends of the bones wears down over time and can affect any joint in the body. Treatments can slow its progression and relieve pain, but there is no cure.
This is a nerve disorder that affects multiple peripheral nerves. It can affect the legs, show lack of reflexes, and can lead to muscle deterioration and atrophy. It is often diagnosed with multiple tests, a physical exam, a chemical blood profile, and a urinalysis. Chest and abdominal x-rays can be crucial for diagnosing this disorder.
Osteochondrosis is a disturbance in cartilage and bone formation of medium and large dogs that grow quickly. Surgery or arthrography can be used to remove the cartilage flaps or “joint mice” (free-floating fragments of cartilage) as treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and joint fluid modifiers may benefit dogs with degenerative joint disease.
Signs and Symptoms that Should be Cause for Concern
Typical signs of joint issues that indicate your dog is hurting and should be cause for concern include:
- Getting up and down is difficult to do
- Their movement that is slow and stiff
- They seem to have difficulty climbing stairs
- There is swelling in their joints
- They pant excessively
- Limping is evident whenever they walk any distance
- Your dog holds a leg off the ground frequently
- They seem to favor one leg
Treatment Options for Hip and Joint Problems
There are numerous conditions that can affect an adolescent dog’s hips and joints that should be a cause for concern. And there are numerous ways to treat those conditions.
Conventional Medicine –
Hip and joint problems are commonly managed medically with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS, even narcotics. These drugs are designed to manage joint pain and inflammation. But in order for them to work effectively, they must be given regularly. And taking NSAIDs regularly can cause liver and/or kidney damage in your dog. (By the way, that goes for you, too!)
Patients taking NSAIDs on a regular basis should have bloodwork done on a regular basis to monitor negative changes that are likely to occur in the liver or kidneys.
And this is why homeopathic remedies are always recommended before giving pain medication to your dog. Simply, pain medications have potentially dangerous side effects. NSAIDs, steroids, and narcotics should be given only as a last resort.
Supplements and Natural Remedies –
Joint supplements can help your dog with hip and joint problems. Research shows that 75 percent of dogs with hip and joint problems can live normal lives with appropriate supplements and wise management. Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, MSM, glucosamine, chondroitin as well as CBD oil help to reduce pain, inflammation, and a variety of other common health issues.
In addition to supplements, non-surgical options for long-term management include weight restriction, exercise moderation, chiropractic, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and physical rehabilitation. Chiropractic care is highly recommended. However, all of these non-surgical management options require long-term use in order to be and remain effective.
Homeopathy is another alternative form of treatment. It treats the symptoms and addresses the entire symptom picture of your dog. Unless you are an experienced practitioner, you should not treat your dog’s chronic conditions homeopathically. Such treatment requires an experienced practitioner.
There are several surgeries that can repair your dog's hips. Surgery for hip dysplasia is expensive and aggressive though and requires intensive physical therapy following surgery.
Laser Therapy –
Laser therapy for dogs is not a new treatment option, but many may not be aware of its potential. Its effectiveness on inflammation and pain is seen shortly after treatment is given. Most dogs require multiple treatments. Also, depending on the severity of the hip or joint problem being treated, your dog may need many treatments before noticeable improvements are seen.
The cost of laser therapy ranges from $40 to $100 per treatment, depending on the length of exposure your dog needs. And when your dog needs a couple of sessions per week to start with, the total cost can add up quickly. And treatment is often needed for several weeks.
Cost may be the reason many pet owners forego the amazing effectiveness of laser therapy. Inconvenience may be another. Think about it. Trying to hoist your 100-pound dog in and out of your vehicle twice a week for laser treatments simply may not be feasible.
A great In-Home Option is the Spectra Therapy CANINE Wearable LASERwrap®. The LASERwrap® allows you to treat your dog safely and effectively in the convenience of your home. All the benefits of laser therapy with the added benefit of your dog getting extended treatments both day and night (often for less than the cost of in-office laser treatments).
Your vet can examine your dog and make an accurate diagnosis and treatment. But be aware of and investigate all your options for treatment. Be sure to ask them about the benefits of laser therapy for your pet.
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