Dr. Al Townshend
The domestic dogs and cats we know today evolved as predators. They are designed for stealth, agility, and in the case of the dog, endurance. Their ability to survive depended on these abilities. Fortunately, our four-legged companions don’t need those characteristics to survive today; however, they didn’t lose their desire to be agile and active. They are characteristics that have been retained throughout the evolution of both the domestic dog and cat.
An Active Lifestyle is Essential for the Long-Term Health of All Animals
Activity is essential in the life of a pet. It stimulates the organs of the body and improves digestion. Exercise conditions the heart and strengthens the other muscles of the body. But, overtime, excessive exercise can weather an animal’s bones and joints.
Wear on the joints and resulting impacts like arthritis can begin early and progress rapidly, causing pain and discomfort, reducing activity, the quality of life, and shortening a pet’s lifespan. Larger canines, overweight dogs and cats, and those pets living in an unsafe environment are the most likely to have an early onset of joint related illness.
When signs of discomfort are apparent, working closely with the family veterinarian is essential in determining the need for medications and surgeries. Check out some joint health treatments for options.
Prevention is Key
Normal wear in the joints in a natural part of aging and living an everyday life. The trick is to slow the wear so that signs begin as late as possible in life. Here are some simple ways to help your pet thrive:
- Ensure your pet has a safe and healthy environment that reduces the risk of injury.
- Give your pet options for regular exercise that keeps the body lean and in shape. (Look at this body composition graphic)
- Give your pet the best possible nutritional support to help them thrive.
- Offer them Biologically appropriate, animal protein-focused, low carbohydrate nutrition that is specific for the age (puppy, adult, and senior) and breed type (small breed or large breed).
- Feed only enough to maintain a slightly lean body condition (and allow for growth in the case of puppies and kittens). Carrying excess weight increases the wear on the joints.
- Offer treats that are low in calories (yes, treats have calories too) that are made with the same high-quality ingredients used in the food the pet eats.
- Supplements that support the pet’s long-term health, including the joints, can have a lasting impact on the health and happiness of the pet. When considering supplements, it is essential to start them early to get the best benefits.
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM encourage cartilage formation on the bones in the joint, which acts as a pillow or cushion between the bones. Omega 3s thicken the fluids within the joint, making them a better lubricant.
- Fish Oils are a source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are known to reduce inflammation that can occur with your pet’s regular activity.
- Hemp Seed Oil is a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- A balanced vitamin and mineral supplement to assure pets, especially growing pets, have optimum levels that support strong bones.
Starting early in a pet’s life to create a lifestyle that encourages healthy joints and a long and happy life for the pet is the goal of every Guardian. At the same time, planning ahead can save the Guardian emotional distress and the additional costs of long-term treatments.