Whilst its clear that older dogs need help keeping mobile, being proactive with your dog's joints throughout their life can really help to keep them full of life for longer. Learn how to best look after your dog's joints whatever stage of life they're at.
Joint care for dogs: from playful pups to golden oldies
We’re taking a closer look at joint care for dogs – from puppyhood right through to happy, healthy old age! We’ll be answering some of your most-asked questions, including what to do to support your dog’s joints at different life stages, how to keep oldies happy and healthy, and how to get your young dog off to the best possible start.
Let’s begin at the beginning: puppyhood. Welcoming home a new pup is an incredibly exciting time. Whether you’ve adopted a rescue or found the perfect breeder, hopefully you will have received lots of advice on all the basics, from helping your pup become a happy, confident adult through habituation and socialisation, right through to practical tips on feeding, toilet training and how to find the right puppy class. However, you may not have been told much about caring for your new puppy’s growing joints...
Joint care for puppies
It’s really important to provide the right nutrition, and not over-do the exercise as your pup grows. According to The Kennel Club, your pup should get 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice daily. That works out as approximately:
Remember that different breeds grow at different rates, and it’s a good idea to get your vet, rescue or breeder’s advice on what’s best for your growing pup. Be mindful of the kind of exercise your young pup is doing, too. Jumping (on and off the sofa or at beginners agility!) isn’t a good idea until your dog is at least 12 months old, and it’s sensible to restrict rough play with adult dogs or larger pups to avoid accidental injuries.
Puppy care essentials
- Do your research before bringing your pup home – The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days, The Puppy Primer and Don’t Shoot The Dog are all great reading.
- Find a great puppy class to socialise your pup and make doggie friends.
- Support their growth – avoid over-exercising, and consider a general supplement like YUM Puppy , or a joint supplement like YuMOVE Active Dog once they’re on solid foods.
Joint care for adolescent dogs
Your puppy becomes what’s known as an adolescent when they lose their baby teeth – and this stage lasts until they’re a fully grown adult, at around 18 months. Just like human adolescents, ‘teenage’ pups can be a bit of a handful. Puppy training goes out of the window, and in most cases, young dogs will really test the boundaries.
Right now you might be thinking “I need to tire this little monster out so I get some peace” – but it’s really important to stick to the 5-minutes-per-month rule, and find other ways to tire your pup. Avoid putting strain on their growing joints by focusing on play, stepping up their mental stimulation with challenging brain games and doing lots of fun, positive training. You’ll find that putting in the time now will really develop your bond, too. There are lots of great books out there to get you started on clicker and trick training, while training classes are great for ongoing socialisation, and can be a great way to let off steam and compare notes with other pet parents!
It’s also worth considering supporting your young dog’s growing joints with a supplement like YuMOVE Active Dog.
- Be patient – your dog is a ‘teenager’ at the moment, and needs your patience and support more than ever.
- Keep it positive – adolescents have short attention spans, so keep activities short, fun and positive.
- Exercise their brains – tired dogs are happy, well behaved dogs. Brain games are brilliant for calming unruly teens!
Joint care for dogs who’re active
So you’ve enjoyed puppyhood, and survived adolescence – what next’s in your dog’s joint journey? Active adult life. Joint care for adult dogs depends on the activities you enjoy together. If your dog is a potential athlete and you plan to run together, or take part in doggie sports like CaniCross, Agility or Flyball, it’s a good idea to get informed about keeping active joints healthy.
It’s important not to overdo it too early – too much too soon can put strain on their joints. The Kennel Club only allows dogs of 18 months or older to compete in agility competitions, though you can start gentle, fun training sessions from around 12 months old according to Your Dog magazine.
Whatever your sport, it’s a good idea to focus on several shorter training sessions instead of one intensive stint. This makes it more fun for your dog, and can reduce the the risk of injury. You might also consider YuMOVE Active Dog.
Joint care for young dogs who seem stiff
Unfortunately, some dogs develop stiff joints before they become grey and wise. Breeds to keep an eye on include Labradors, Old English Sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Dachshunds, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Samoyeds and Mastiffs. If your best friend is one of these, it’s a good idea to be aware of the signs that indicate it might be time for extra joint support. These include:
- Starting to lag behind on walks.
- Seeming more reluctant to walk, jump and play.
- Sleeping more or slow to get up from their bed.
- Seeming stiff or having trouble getting up after a rest.
If you spot these signs, it’s a good idea to get to the vets for a check-up. They can work out what’s going on, and help you modify your dog’s routine. When young dogs develop stiff joints, they can still enjoy great quality of life – you'll just need to keep an eye on whatever your vet thinks is going on, and provide a little more support. From acupuncture for dogs to hydrotherapy and joint supplements, there’s lots you can often do to keep them happy and active.
Essential joint care for dogs who seem stiff
- Talk to your vet – the sooner you know what’s going on, the better. They can provide clarity, advice and prescription medication if necessary.
- Try hydrotherapy – it’s a fantastic low-impact way to support your dog’s joints. Water provides resistance and builds muscle around the joint so it is stronger and better supported.
- Consider acupuncture – veterinary acupuncture is now becoming more popular, and many vets recommend it alongside conventional medication.
- Support their diet – a joint supplement like YuMOVE Dog will help to aid stiff joints, support joint structure and promote mobility.
- If your dog has diagnosed joint problem and is under veterinary care, it’s also worth talking to your vet about our vet-only formulation, YuMOVE ADVANCE for Dogs.
Joint care for dogs who do a hard day’s work
Share your working life with a canine? Whether they’re a sheepdog, sniffer dog or help you in the field retrieving or flushing, you’ll want to keep them fit for the job. Like dogs who’re active for fun, working dogs can benefit from a little extra joint support to keep them on top of their game.
As well as really good quality food; a warm, comfortable place to rest; and an appropriate fitness routine at the start of the season; supporting your working dog’s joints with a supplement can be a good idea. YuMOVE Working Dog promotes mobility and joint health, and supports digestion so your working dog has more energy and stamina… it’s a helpful boost to help them do their best for you every day.
Joint care for dogs who are getting older
Old age is the stage where it may become more clear that your dog’s joints need a little extra support – and thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your oldie is getting the most from life if they’re seeming a little stiff.
It may not seem obvious, but as your dog gets older, it’s actually really important to keep up their exercise. Just like in humans, the adage ‘use it or lose it’ rings true. Though they may prefer to take a more sedate pace, daily exercise is vital to maintain a healthy weight and provide a good quality of life. From taking more short walks to changing the activities you get up to together, there are lots of ways to keep your oldie active – we’ve written a whole blog about exercise for older dogs here.
Supplements to support older joints
Our YuMOVE range was born when Charlie, our founder’s much-loved Chocolate Labrador, became stiff. After trying all the available joint supplements, Charlie was still not his playful self – so we set out to create something better. Months later, the UK’s #1 joint support formula* was born (and Charlie was zipping around the garden again). Over the years we’ve developed a whole range of YuMOVE supplements to support dogs (and cats and horses!) of all ages, but you’re not sure which might be most suitable for your best friend, why not give us a call on 01462 416866 – we can explain how the different formulas work, and talk you through your options.
That’s about it from us for joint care for dogs – have we covered everything you’d like to know? If you have questions or would like to share your own tips or insights why not leave a comment? We always answer every single one, and love to hear what’s happening with you and your dogs.
*Kynetec VetTrak Sales Data, MAT values (August 2017)