Senior Pets and Their Achy Joints

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aging sally

Aging Sally

Oh My Aching Paw…

I came across this article on senior dogs and their joints and thought it needed to be shared.

First and foremost, if you notice signs that your dog is having some difficulty getting around (or difficulty lying down or sitting), please consult with your vet.  Your vet can help you determine if there is anything extraordinary about their condition and if so, what your course of action should be.  Don’t just assume that your dog is fine.  Although the odds are small of a major life threatening condition, as we unfortunately learned, sometimes what appears to be a small orthopedic issue can, in fact be a lot more.

A Sad Story

becca in rehab

Becca in rehab

One of our wonderful rescue dogs, Becca, an ex-service dog, started limping on a limb that hadn’t previously bothered her.  We didn’t think much of it as she had several orthopedic issues as a result of her years of service.  When we noticed the new ailment, we immediately set an appointment for her to get checked. Needless to say, we were shocked to learn that she had bone cancer!


I am not sharing Becca’s story to scare you or to be an alarmist.  I just want to point out that sometimes, not often but sometimes, it is better to be more cautious and react relatively quickly when it comes to changes in your pet’s condition.


Tools and Tips

Like people, dogs will often find it harder to get around as they age due to deteriorating muscle mass, arthritis, and sometimes simply “normal wear and tear”.   But, as the article suggests, there are some things we can do to minimize the impact of aging on their mobility.  Here are some things that we have done over the years with our senior dogs:


  1. Exercise your dog!  Can’t run? Walk.  Can’t walk?  Consider alternative exercise programs like pilates or yoga.  Just make sure they move!
  2. Physio therapy including exercise, treatment modalities and massage.  I will be doing a separate piece on this in the future, but you should know that many of the principles that apply to human PT and physical rehab can and do apply to dogs!  We have used PT for almost all of our older dogs.  You can see Becca receiving laser treatment in the picture above.  And below is a picture of Tino working out on the water treadmill.  In most cases, we saw noticeable improvements after a few sessions.
  3. Acupuncture.  We first tried acupuncture with Sally many years ago and were generally pleased with the results.  Becca also seemed to have a good response to the needles.
  4. Supplements. Although hard to prove, I am a believer in certain supplements including fish oil for inflammation and glucosamine  for overall joint health.
  5. Quality food.  Like humans, a dog’s overall health and condition can be impacted markedly based on the food that they eat.  How much thought do you give when choosing a food for your dog?  I know that the labels can be confusing but it is worth some effort to look for more healthier choices.  I will be having A LOT to say about this in future posts, but for now, make sure to read the label of your dog food package and look for real natural ingredients that are close to their “paleo” form, like meat, not meat by products, and avoid foods with artificial chemicals and colorings.  It can make a big difference.  Here is a short list, thanks to Halo Pet Foods, of some unhealthy ingredients that you should not want in your dog’s food:

♦ Corn syrup: Used to give food moisture. This is sugar.
♦ BHA: A preservative and potentially dangerous for the kidneys.
♦ BHT: Used to retard spoilage and more toxic than BHA.
♦ Dry blood meal: An cheap source of low quality protein.
♦ Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite, and Ethoxyguin: These are carcinogens. Enough said.
♦ Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG): A flavor enhancer for dogs as it is for humans. Can cause allergic reactions.
♦ Propyl gallate: Chemical used to retard spoilage.
♦ Propylene glycol: Chemical used in anti-freeze and a solvent in brake fluids. Enough said.


tino rehab

Tino water therapy
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