Health Archives

Arthritis in Dogs

So, arthritis. It’s such a commonly used word nowadays, but what is it?

The official definition of arthritis is “painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints”. It’s a type of degenerative disease that can be very painful, and while it most often affects senior-aged mammals (and possibly other vertebrates), it can affect anyone of any age for a variety of reasons. Arthritis is very common in dogs as well as humans, and it’s important to know about it.

An injury younger in life can lead to early-onset arthritis in that joint, or repetitive movement such as typing or grooming can degrade the joint and cause arthritis sooner than it might have naturally occurred in localized areas. Most often, simple aging results in a degeneration of the joints that affects dogs in their senior years.

Personal experience has shown me that many dogs have arthritis starting at about age seven, when they’re considered seniors. As they advance in age, arthritis gets worse, and depending on their environment, their owner’s responsibility, and their genetics, can get bad very fast, or advance slowly with the proper maintenance.

Here are some things that can affect how bad arthritis gets, and how fast it can get there:

  • Genetics. Proper breeding is important for dogs. In today’s world, it’s so easy to get a dog from a puppy mill breeder, most always with terrible genetics that lead to bad joints and bad arthritis. Consider that when acquiring a dog, and try to adopt from a shelter, rescue, or buy a dog from a responsible, reputable breeder (more on that in another post).
  • Grooming. Regular grooming and nail trims are SO important to maintaining joints that it cannot be stressed enough. Particularly for senior dogs, you have, have, have to get your dog groomed no less than every 8 weeks, and if nothing else, get their nails short and keep them that way.
  • Nutrition. Having a good feeding regime for your dog when they’re young, and keeping them on a good regime¬†for life can help build strong bones and joints, and help keep some bone and joint deformities from forming.
  • Supplements. Throughout life and once arthritis sets in, there are a variety of supplements you can have your dog on to help the lubrication of their joints and reduce any pain they may be in.
  • Exercise. Just like in people, keeping your dog active can keep them at a good weight and keep their joints fluid and not painful. It’s important that they maintain their weight and keep ¬†moving. A walk or two a day in a dog’s senior years can make a huge difference, and exercise throughout life is very important.

There’s so much more to cover on this topic, and I’ll get to that later, but for now consider these points. While there’s not a lot you can do about your current dog’s genetics, there is a lot you can do with their grooming, nutrition, supplements, and exercise that can make a difference for them, no matter where they are in their life.

Morgan Clemens is an animal enthusiast with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a minor in Biology from Northern Arizona University.She has made a career out of caring for animals of all kinds, and training, grooming, and walking dogs.

She is the founder and operator of The Mutt Squad, and she spends most of her time with her furry, four-legged friends from all around the Portland Area.

Matted Dogs!

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Severely Matted Dog, Being Shaved Down

So, I encountered a Chow Chow the other day that was eleven years old, very matted, and extremely dirty.

This made me both angry and sad, for several reasons.

Dogs who are dirty and matted can have severe health problems because of the debris that can build up in the coat.

It is fairly common to see matted dogs when you are out and about. I see people walking their matted, nasty dogs all the time. I see them at dog parks, at city and dog events, and just about everywhere else. Today, most people have an animal of some sort. People tend to be most active with their dogs, taking them many different places, and having them out and about when company comes to visit.

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Tea Tree Oil: What It’s Useful For, and What it Isn’t

MelaleucaTea Tree oil, or Melaleuca oil, is an oil that is growing in popularity for humans and pets across the nation. In fact, the oil is found in many products that are sold in every day stores. It is harvested from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, native to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast Coast of New South Wales, Australia.

You can use Tea Tree oil in many ways for humans, including topical use on external wounds, for acne, as an inhalant for a way to loosen congestion, to eliminate head lice, and treat dandruff.

For animals, Tea Tree oil can be used on external wounds, as an ear cleaner, and as a topical aid in destroying fleas and skin ailments, such as in shampoos. These benefits can be used for dogs as well as some fish, depending on the type. Read the rest of this entry

Nail Trimming: Why is it so Important, and How You Get Started

PawPrintSo everyone gets a pet peeve, right? We all have them. Here’s mine: people who don’t get their animal’s nail’s trimmed!

Trimming your pet’s nails is so important, and here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Long nails can break off in painful places, causing bleeding and disfigurement. Sometimes these nail stubs then get infected and even more painful, which results in a costly vet bill.
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Wellness Senior Dog Food

Super5MixRecently, I switched one of my dogs over to the Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors dog food. I switched her from Nutro Natural Choice Senior formula for a few different reasons, but the main reason was because of her growing joint problems.

Sasha is a nine-year-old German Shepherd/Chow Chow mix with mild hip dysplasia and mild arthritis. She injured herself a few months ago, and has been limping off and on ever since. When I took her to the vet, they recommended fish oils and glucosamine as supplements to help with her problems walking and moving around.

I looked through all the dog foods at Petco, looking for high levels of glucosamine and fish oils. I was dismayed to discover that there were no foods, other than one Wellness formula, and one Blue Buffalo formula, that had this combination.

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