How to ease joint pain in dogs and cats
Signs that your pet is experiencing increased stiffness and joint pain include:
As animals age, wear and tear in the joints can dramatically reduce mobility and cause increasing joint pain. Excessive wear and tear can also be caused by inherited conditions such as hip dysplasia, and injuries such as cruciate ligament damage.
The painful truth is that if your pet is 'stiff', they are most probably in pain.
Like us, animals can experience joint pain for a number of reasons. As the protective cartilage that covers the joint surfaces wears away, exposed bone can become damaged resulting in pain, and in an attempt to repair the damaged bone, boney outgrowths develop which can increase damage further.
Fluid pressure within the joint can also increase pain. That's why both people and dogs experience increased joint stiffness and pain in bad weather. It's not the cold or wet, but a drop in atmospheric pressure that allows the joint tissues to swell, causing stiffness and discomfort.
As joint decay advances, the surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons also become weaker and can be quite painful. The problem with joint pain in damaged joints is that it actually accelerates joint decay. Increased pain reduces mobility, which in turn leads to muscle wastage. Muscle tone is very important for joint support, so as muscle tone is lost, the joint becomes less stable resulting in abnormal forces in the joint which create additional wear and tear. If left unchecked, this viscious cycle of pain and joint decay will worsen, dramatically reducing your pet's mobility.
The Cycle of Joint Decay
Specific nutrition for joints is important. The core nutrients associated with joint health are Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Glucosamine provides the fundamental building blocks of all the major tissues in the joint. In younger animals, they are able to produce Glucosamine from their diet, but as they age, their ability to produce Glucosamine drops, so supplementing with Glucosamine HCl and Chondroitin are a good start to maintaining joint health.
Unfortunately this is where many joint supplements start.... and stop! The problem with this purely 'structural' approach is that it does very little to address the pain that your dog is experiencing, which means that the majority of the problems remain unaddressed.
If your pet is in pain, you also need to improve their joint comfort if their joints are to fully benefit.
The key to improving joint comfort is to reduce the inflammation in the joint. The Omega 3, EPA, found in salmon oil and Green Lipped Mussel is a useful anti-inflammatory and can help to improve joint comfort. Green Lipped Mussel also contains a unique Omega 3 called ETA which has very powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which is why Green Lipped Mussel is so beneficial for joint health. By helping to reduce inflammation in the joint, you can improve your pet's joint comfort and mobility.
The synovial fluid in the joint plays a key role in maintaining joint mobility. It both protects the joint from impact, and lubricates the surface of the joint to aid flexibility. As pets age, the synovial fluid starts to thin, making it less protective and reducing its lubricating ability. This reduction in protection can lead to increased inflammation and pain. A key component of synovial fluid is Hyaluronic Acid, which thickens the synovial fluid and has been shown to reach the joints within 2 hours if fed as a supplement. Thicker synovial fluid is more protective, helping to aid mobility.
It is also important to control free radicals in the joint. These are created during exercise, and over time can damage the joint and reduce mobility. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C & E can help mop up these free radicals.