By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative
A sad fact is the more excess weight a dog carries the more likely it is to have joint issues and develop osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts additional stress and strain on joints. When dogs are overweight, they tend to be more lethargic, resulting in poor muscle tone and reduced ability to keep joints stabilized and supported.
Research has shown that fat tissue is active. It secretes chemicals and hormones – namely leptin, a hormone that gets into joints and causes inflammation. It may also contribute to changes in the bone that affect osteoarthritis. The point is that excess fat contributes to degenerative joint disease and joint inflammation. Joints problems result in weakened ligaments and tendons leading to injuries.
Now that you know the heavier your dog is the more likely it is to have joint problems the question becomes, what do you do about it?
Ideally, the best answer would be to not let your dog pack on those extra pounds in the first place. However, most of us are not too good about that. So, here are a few tips to help prevent those extra pounds from settling around your dog’s waistline.
First, make sure the daily food ration is the appropriate type and amount for your dog. Serious working dogs require a high protein food to keep them well fueled for their active days. While the 12-year-old dog that spends its day lounging on the couch requires far less protein in its food. Feeding package guidelines assume the dog is of moderate activity level.
Second, if training your dog with treats, keep in mind the size of the treat given and the overall daily amount of food consumed. If you are doing numerous training sessions daily, those treats have calories so slightly reduce the amount of food your dog receives for its morning and evening meals.
Keep in mind dogs don’t care what they get for treats, so consider giving low calorie treats such as green beans or slices of carrots. Fresh fruit is another treat option dogs frequently like, especially those sweet summer fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe.
Trying to prevent joint injuries and taking care of them once they occur is a multi-dimensional endeavor. Many dogs with joint issues can benefit from a custom dog leg brace. Once the joint is supported, it is more comfortable for your dog to walk and play. An active dog is more likely to lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
Monitoring your dog’s food intake and seeing it gets ample exercise will help to keep its weight in check and its muscles strong to provide good joint support. Finding the right solution for an injured joint, be it surgery or a brace, and then striving to get your dog to an acceptable weight will go a long way in helping your pet to live a healthier, happier life.