As a pet parent, you know your best friend needs both mental and physical exercise to stay happy and healthy. But just like humans, dogs and cats experience less flexibility in their joints as they get older. So what can you do to help ease joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity?
First, let’s talk about joint anatomy.
What is a joint?
A joint is a structure in the body at which two parts of the skeleton are joined together. At the joints, bones are covered in a special type of connective tissue, cartilage, which helps to cushion and support the bones where they bend and move.
Synovial joints are the most common in a dog’s body and serve two primary functions: enabling movement and absorbing shock from weight transfer, allowing them to run, jump, and play with agility. With normal daily exercise and activity, the joint cartilage, surrounding tissues, and lubricating synovial fluid need to be maintained in order for your pet’s joints to stay healthy. Cold weather generally causes muscles to feel stiffer and synovial fluid in joints to have less pliability, making it extra challenging to maintain normal activity this time of year.
How can you support your pet?
Start by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for an examination. Routine veterinary care can help to identify any concerns and provide a recommended plan for your pet’s optimal joint care throughout their lifetime.
You can also find several joint-supporting foods and functional supplements that help by providing the building blocks for your pet’s synovial fluid, cartilage and connective tissues, including:
- Glucosamine may stimulate the production of proteoglycans which help maintain the health and resiliency of joints and connective tissue.
- Chondroitin Sulfate is a natural component of cartilage and works together with glucosamine to help support the maintenance of your pet’s joint cartilage.
- Hydrolyzed Beef Collagen is made from enzyme-treated cartilage (type 2 collagen) with high bioavailability for incorporation into the structure of your pet’s joints.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is rich in organic sulfur and plays an important role in synthesis of collagen and glucosamine, both of which are vital for healthy bones and joints.
- Organic Turmeric’s main active component, curcumin, has potent antioxidant properties that help protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage.
- New Zealand Green Mussel contains glucosamine, chondroitin, antioxidants, and minerals that help maintain healthy cartilage and joint function.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is rich in EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that support a healthy inflammatory response.
- Eggshell Membrane contains Hyaluronic Acid, which helps maintain the synovial fluid that lubricates joints.
- Vitamin E supports healthy cartilage cells and protects cells against oxidative stress damage.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) supports collagen, the main protein in joint tissue and bone.
With the guidance of your veterinarian, use joint-supporting foods and health supplements, and establishing a regular exercise routine that works well for you and your pet, you can help your pet maintain normal joint function and mobility.