Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Big Barker. I received compensation for this post to spread the word about joint care for dogs and Big Barker, but all thoughts are those of ComeWagAlong.com. We always share things that we find beneficial to our readers and things that Simba and I love.
Did you know that dogs can have joint issues? Some pet parents may not be aware of this so they may not even recognize the signs. Research shows that dogs may suffer in silence due to the fact that they hide their pain so predators won’t sense any weakness. Small dogs and big dogs can have joint issues, but it is more prevalent in bigger dogs. Joint conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia are going to affect the vast majority of big dogs at some point over the course of their lives.
There are various ways to treat joint issues and I want to make sure that pet parents know about joint care for dogs. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sarah who is the consulting veterinarian for Big Barker. Big Barker is a dog bed company that specializes in superior dog beds made to serve the special support-needs of big dogs (and small dogs too). Dr. Sarah and I discussed the different type of joint issues in dogs, the signs, and how a dog owner can help with joint pain.
Can you tell me about the different types of joint conditions that dogs can face?
Joint conditions can be divided into several broad categories: developmental conditions, such as malformed joints from hip dysplasia, infectious bacterial, fungal, or parasite infections, such as lyme disease, cancerous conditions, injuries, and inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis or gout.
Are big dogs more prone to joint conditions? What types are the most common?
The most common joint problem in dogs by FAR is osteoarthritis. Estimates of the prevalence of osteoarthritis are very rough, and assume that 35% of all dogs are suffering pain from some level of arthritis – that is one third of all dogs!
Joint problems seem to be more prevalent in big dogs because when they can’t move, it is a BIG problem and people are more aware of the condition. Small dogs suffer just as much, but I feel are under-diagnosed because pet owners aren’t aware that their small dog is uncomfortable from joint pain.
Can small dogs have joint conditions? What types?
Absolutely small dogs can have joint conditions. In fact, they can have all the same conditions as big dogs.
What are the signs that a dog may have joint conditions?
One of the main signs that a dog might have arthritis is that he or she is ‘slowing down’. Slowing down isn’t a normal sequelae of age – it means your dog hurts. If your senior dog is ‘slowing down’, then it is time to talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will assess your pet for any sources of chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions, and advise you best on how to proceed.
There are many signs that painful dogs can exhibit. Your dog is most likely suffering from joint pain if he/she:
- Holding one foot up
- Stiff or slow to rise in the morning, gets better after moving around
- Is stiff or limps after heavy exercise
- Is stiff or limps when it is cold outside
- Can’t/won’t jump into the car anymore
- Difficulty going up or down stairs
- Swollen joints
- A crunchy sensation you can feel when you touch a joint (elbow, knee, etc.) that is being flexed or extended (your doctor will call this “crepitus”)
- Muscle loss, especially in the back legs
- Decreased range of motion: can’t flex or bend a joint as far
- Difficulty rising from a resting position, pulls self up with front legs: sign of pain in the hindlimbs
- Sits with one leg out to the side (especially with knee pain)
- Is bunny hopping or has an otherwise altered gait
Your dog may be suffering from joint pain if he/she:
- Exhibits a general decrease in activity or exercise
- Is reluctant to walk, run, climb, jump, or play
- Lags behind on walks or can’t walk as far as he used to
- Experiences sensitivity when touched
- Yelps or whimpers without an apparent cause
- Experiences changes in personality, such as acting aggressive or withdrawn
- Seems more grumpy
- Flattens ears against head
- Licks the affected area
- Has difficulty getting comfortable
- Experiences changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Seems lazy, sleeps a lot
- Acts depressed or slow
- Has a decreased appetite
- Doesn’t enjoy the same activities he or she once relished (walks, fetch, tug-of-war, etc.)
- No longer greets you at the door
Since my dog is a Mini Schnauzer are there any specific joint conditions he may face over the years? What about the Standard and the Giant Schnauzers?
Most dogs over the age of 7 have some degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Because your dog is smaller and lighter and because Mini Schnauzers are stoic, you may not see any signs associated with arthritis. Standard and Giant Schnauzers are at higher risk for osteoarthritis because they weigh more. Standard and giant schnauzers are reported to get hip dysplasia, and veterinarians will often recommend hip x-rays for these dogs.
Are certain breeds of dogs more prone to have joint issues? What breeds?
According to the orthopedic foundation of America, brachycephalic breeds (think bulldogs, pugs, dogue de bordeaux, cane corsos, bull mastiffs, etc.) are at higher risk for hip dysplasia. Labrador retrievers and Rottweilers are also commonly affected with hip dysplasia. Elbow dysplasia is most often seen in large and giant breeds, particularly Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers, but can occur in most breeds of dog. OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), a cartilage defect, is seen commonly in large breed dogs, including Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
How can a dog owner help with a dog’s joint issues?
There are a lot of options. The most important thing to do is keep your dog at a lean body weight. Studies show a reduction in symptoms associated with joint pain up to 25% with just weight loss alone!
The second most important thing to do is get your dog started on a high-quality, bioavailable joint supplement. Glucosamine hydrochloride, ASUs, chondroitin sulfate, and high quality omega-3 fatty acids all protect cartilage and reduce inflammation.
Third, talk with your veterinarian. In addition to pain medication, there are many options, including rehabilitation, laser therapy,etc. available to pet owners today to reduce pain and increase their dog’s quality of life.
How do Big Barker beds help with joint pain?
Big Barker beds are a wonderful support for dogs with painful, arthritic joints. The beds are very thick, so the dog can easily just walk on and off the bed without having to lower himself too much. Foam protects the dog’s joints from hard surfaces, which reduces swelling and pain associated with arthritis. I find that dogs rest better on the Big Barker beds – they sleep sounder, and don’t get up and move around. I like to think about it this way: if a person with arthritis sleeps on a high quality memory foam mattress, he will feel much better when he wakes up then if you he sleeps on a thin, sofa-sleeper mattress.
Thanks so much to Dr. Sarah for the interview about joint care for dogs! It was so informative and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t even know about dog joint care.
Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Beds
Would you like to ease your dog’s joint pain? Talk with your vet and look into a Big Barker bed. Big Barker beds seem to be amazing for dogs with so many awesome reviews from big dog owners. The company says that they make the most supportive, long-lasting and biggest orthopedic dog beds in America. Your dog is guaranteed supreme comfort for the next 10 years! The beds also won’t flatten in that time frame either. So if you’re looking for a dog bed for a dog with joint issues you should definitely check these out. The beds are stylish, easy to clean, comfortably fits even the biggest dogs, joint-friendly, and are made in America.
Small dogs can have joint issues too! Big Barker has small dogs covered with the Barker Junior dog beds. These beds are exclusively engineered for dogs under 50 lbs. It has the exact same foam technology as the Big Barker beds, but made for small and medium dogs. For more information visit BigBarker.com and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.
Does your dog have joint issues? How do you help with it? Share in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!