Ready, Set, Go! 5 Fun Things You Can Do to Keep Your Dog’s Joints Healthy
Joint problems and stiffness is not an uncommon issue for dogs. Many times, it is simply a part of the aging process. In younger dogs, joint issues can result from injury or genetic predisposition for conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia. However, as common as the issue is, it is a source of concern for pet owners. Why? Because it is a chief contributor of discomfort and loss of quality of life for pets. At Okoa Pet, we believe in combining healthy activity and good nutrition to alleviate conditions affecting your dog’s joints. Physical activity has been known to help keep dog’s joints healthy, just as it does for humans.
What kind of activity is best for improving and maintaining your pet’s mobility? Read on for more information about five fun activities that can help.
For humans, swimming provides an excellent form of physical activity. It requires movement but does not place the same stress on joints as other activities such as walking or running. Guess what? The same is true for dog’s joints.
With the proper facility in colder climates, aquatic therapy can be a year-round part of your dog’s routine. Swimming is perfect for older dogs, as it doesn’t require them to bear their own weight. Because dogs can lose important muscle tone within just six or seven weeks of inactivity, it’s also a good solution for maintaining a dog’s mobility after surgery.
There are a number of activities involving water that can assist with joint health, including:
- A treadmill within a tank of water: This takes advantage of both the benefits of walking and the buoyancy of the water that takes pressure off the dog’s joints.
- Teaching your dog to swim with the help of a professional: This is a weight-reducing or weight-maintaining exercise. Maintaining your dog’s healthy weight is important not only for his or her heart health, but to reduce the pressure that extra weight places on joints, too.
- Aquatic fetch: Look for pools that allow space for your dog to do laps or play fetch.
Generally, cold water is recommended for hydrotherapy for healthy dogs, as it helps them to maintain a normal and balanced body temperature. Warm water is recommended for older dogs and those recovering from surgical procedures as it soothes the muscles and helps relieve muscle tightness. The recommended time for each hydrotherapy session is usually between ten minutes to half an hour. Your vet can help you determine the right temperature and exercise time based on your dog’s health needs.
With or without water, walking is an important activity for arthritic dogs as it keeps the dog’s joints limber. However, consistency is key for providing your dog with the maximum benefits of walking.
Let’s say you had a busy week at work and only had about ten minutes each day to walk your dog. But it is the weekend now, and you have more time. You should take your dog for a two-hour walk to make up for lost time, right? Wrong. Dramatically altering the duration of an exercise can actually increase stiffness, lead to injuries, and result in over-exertion.
If your dog is used to ten-minute walks each day, you should only increase that amount of exercise in small increments over time. If you want to make up for missed exercise, attempt several short walks throughout the day and schedule time for your dog to rest between each one.
3. Obstacle Courses
Dog-friendly obstacle courses can be both a fun, creative outlet for you and an exercise-filled, joint healing activity for your dog. They can be built in your backyard, provided you have the space. Simply use items you have on-hand, such as chairs, boxes, or broomsticks. Use particular care to avoid features of the course that may make your dog feel unsteady or anxious.
When you’ve built the course, you will likely have to take your dog through it, step-by-step, a few times in order for him or her to learn it. You may even have to offer a bit of healthy motivation, such as small treats. As they become more familiar with the course, you can change it up and add new challenges. In cold weather, you can build a course inside the house, too. Just be sure there is space for him or her to move comfortably through it.
4. Social Time
As you already know, dogs tend to be social creatures. Not only do they like to play with their humans, but they also like to play with other dogs. If you have a local dog park, this can be a great resource for your dog. It meets both his or her physical need for exercise and his or her emotional need for interaction. Many dog parks also feature space for fetch, obstacle courses, and other equipment. This is particularly useful for dog owners who live in apartments or small homes that don’t offer much space for exercise.
If you have friends or acquaintances who have dogs, you can consider setting up a time for a playdate or a walk that both the dogs and the humans can enjoy. Combined with CBD pet products for dogs, even light social activity can help keep your dog’s joints healthy.
Most dogs have a natural instinct to chase down and retrieve items that their owner has tossed away. Playing fetch with a ball or a frisbee is a great way to increase your dog’s level of exercise. It’s also a great bonding experience between dog and human. However, before you go out and start a game of fetch, consider the following tips:
- Dogs need to warm up before vigorous exercise just as humans do. Before playing fetch, a gentle massage is a great way to begin, followed by some brisk walking. This will help protect the dog’s joints.
- Choose the right toy for the game. Oversized is best, as they prevent risks of choking posed by smaller balls and toys. And, because they do not bounce like a ball would, they are easier for your dog to track and chase down.
- Play on grassy surfaces or soft dirt rather than asphalt or concrete in order to avoid injury.
- Keep the game short. Dogs are prone to overheating and overexertion. Avoid this by simply throwing the ball a few times before changing gears and playing a different game, such as tug.
While most dogs need around two hours of exercise a day, you should break this amount into smaller lengths of time throughout the day. Also, keep watch for indications that your dog is tired and needs to rest.
Another consideration is the provision of joint supplements to use in concert with a healthy diet and exercise. What is the best joint supplement for your pet? Take a look at Okoa Pet to improve and maintain joint health. Browse our store or contact us to find the right options for your pet.