By Audrey Harvey, DVM
There are many things you can do while your dog is young to look after his joints.
Young dogs are full of energy, but are often short of common sense. They don’t know when to stop, and if allowed to do so, may run and play enough to stress their growing bones. It’s up to you to control your pup’s activity level.
Generally speaking, until he is 12 months old, your dog should have no forced exercise. This means that he should only be allowed to run around as much as he wants to, without any encouragement from you. This means that you must not take him jogging, or play ball excessively. Even allowing him to run the fence line with the neighbor’s dog can be potentially dangerous.
The best way to feed your pup is to choose a good quality puppy food and feed him that until he has reached around 80% of his expected adult weight. At that point, he can be changed onto an adult kibble. This will give him all the nutrients he needs to grow into a healthy adult. We like the all natural food from The Honest Kitchen.
Keep an eye on his body condition too. If he becomes overweight as a puppy, he is likely to carry that condition through to adulthood, and it is stressful on his joints. A dog’s body condition is scored from 1 to 9, with 1 being extremely emaciated, and 9 being morbidly obese. Your pup should have a body score of 4 to 5, which means you should be able to feel his ribs, and he should have an obvious waistline.
Not all supplements are created equal. There are some that are good for growing dogs, and others that are very harmful.
One thing that you should never add to your pup’s diet is calcium. Too much of this nutrient is thought to contribute to orthopedic problems such as osteochondritis dissecans as he grows.
On the other hand, supplementing the nutrients that are involved in joint health can reduce the chances of future problems. The main ingredient in Joint Resolution is BioCell Collagen II, which contains Hyaluronic Acid and Chondroitin. Both have been shown to reduce joint friction and slow down the degradation of a joint’s natural lubrication. This helps to maintain joint health as your pup is growing up. A daily dose of Joint Resolution will promote strong connective tissue and keep his joints healthy.
Your dog loves to accompany you on all your adventures. By taking care of his joints while he is young, you’ll be able to enjoy an active lifestyle with him well into his senior years.