Preventing a disease is always preferable to treating one that has already developed. Dogs and cats that suffer from malformations like hip dysplasia often have no other method of treatment available, than undergoing surgery or daily taking pain medications. But pets that have yet to develop the condition are privileged with good health, and have the opportunity to make small adjustments that will help them avoid getting dysplastic joints. Though hip dysplasia is a heritable disease, it has often been linked to poor quality of life, whether caused by overeating, an imbalanced diet, or not exercising enough. Learn the preemptive ways you can help protect your dog or cat from muscle & tissue weakness, as well as joint inflammation by implementing the methods below
Ways to Prevent Hip Dysplasia
- Nutrition. This is perhaps one of the most important ways to guard against hip dysplasia. Food is often called the “best medication or the slowest poison,” and unsurprisingly, poor-quality nutrition has often been directly linked to diseases such as hip dysplasia. Fortunately, pet owners can help protect their beloved animals from the disease by giving them the nutrients they require to specifically promote joint health. Supplements such as omega-3’s, glucosamine (joint restorative supplements) and other fatty acids, are anti-inflammatory and help the joints rebuild muscle and tissue. *NOTE: Dogs who are overfed as puppies, or given an excessive amount of dietary calcium have a greater likelihood of having dysplastic joints when they are older.
- Exercise. There is a fine balance between moderate exercise and overworking your pet’s sensitive and damaged joints once the condition develops. But keeping a pet’s weight down is an important step in preventing joint tension, especially for bigger breeds.
President A. Corley, D.V.M, Ph. D, of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals claims that there is no better way for pets with dysplastic joints to exercise than swimming. Water exercise allows the pet to move weightlessly without putting pressure on their joints, and it helps beef-up muscles and keep joints secure and toned.
- Avoid the stairs. While some dogs seem to enjoy effortlessly bounding up staircases without a glitch, doing so several times a day can be very physically demanding for a dog with joint tension. (If your dog has severe pain, purchase an indoor pet ramp that can sit atop your stairs, and ease any climbing.) When you are out walking your pet, always opt for walking on a ramp instead of stairs, and if you like to jog the bleachers for exercise, leave Rover at home!
- Massage. Gentle massaging motions around the sensitive areas will help increase blood flow and range of motion, and can be very soothing for tender joints. Using heating pads might also provide additional comfort and relaxation for the animal.
- Physical therapy. If you are concerned about accidently hurting the cat or dog by giving him massages or attempting other aspects of physical therapy at home, it may be worth taking your pet to the professionals. Physical therapists can help dogs and cats manage and maintain good joint health, without overextending any motions. Hydrotherapy is another helpful low-impact activity for pets!)
- Set up floor traction mats. Hardwood floors can turn the living room into a veritable slip-n-slide for your pet. While this might sound fun in theory, repeatedly falling on weak limbs can cause further injury to the limb. Adding carpet, rugs or some traction mats should help keep your animal from tumbling on his hips.
- Warm and supportive dog/cat beds. Adjustments as simple as having a well-cushioned bed, or a heating pad to rest on will significantly help your dog or cat. Arthritis and joint pain are exacerbated by cold weather, and unforgiving surfaces can further agitate soreness and increase pain. Though we recommend orthopedic beds, there are many suitable types of dog beds to choose from!