Arthritis is a painful joint condition caused when a joint gets damaged, sometimes just through everyday activities. All parts of the joint can be affected and it tends to get worse over time. There is no cure for arthritis so managing it is key. Joints are part of the skeleton which supports the body so the more weight there is in the body the more pressure there is on the joints and if those joints are arthritic the more pain will be experienced. It has been found that reducing body weight by 8% can have the same effect on the symptoms of arthritis as taking anti inflammatory drugs. Dogs that lose 6% of their body weight can sometimes half their doses of anti infammatories. Being slightly underweight is recognised as good for arthritis. Exercise is also known to be vital in managing arthritis and a reduction in body weight makes exercise easier and more enjoyable. In overweight dogs that have become used to only small amounts of exercise massage can help increase the flexibility of muscles unused to stretching which again makes exercise more comfortable.
Joint problems in a dog’s later years can be prevented by ensuring that they don’t put on weight too quickly as puppies. Feed according to the manufacturers guidelines and go for foods with around 23% protein. Too much bone growth in the early weeks creates long bones with little strength and too much muscle gain makes for a body which is too heavy for the skeleton to hold without damaging the joints.
Obesity is the primary health problem in dogs in the present day. As well as causing extra pressure on joints it also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you can’t easily feel your dog’s ribs or see their waist from above then talk to your vet practice about the best way to help your dog shift some pounds.