A young dog sitting on wooden flooring

Can Young Dogs Get Arthritis?

Dogs, particularly older canines, can develop arthritis during their lifetimes. Yet, you may wonder whether the condition affects younger pets.

In this article, we’ll answer this burning question and guide you through managing arthritis in young dogs. Let’s get started.

Can Arthritis Affect Young Dogs?

Although canine arthritis is more common in senior dogs, younger pets can also develop this condition because of how their bones and other structures in their bodies conform. Some canines have abnormal joints that can be damaged, resulting in early arthritis.

Dog joint problems potentially contributing to arthritis include patellar luxation and hip dysplasia. The former refers to a dislocated knee, while the latter happens when a canine’s ball-and-socket joint doesn’t fit or develop properly. A luxating patella is common in short-faced breeds, including pugs and bulldogs, and hip dysplasia is prevalent in large dogs.

Now, how young can a dog get arthritis? Previous research notes that canines can show symptoms of arthritis when they’re a year old, with 20% of dogs developing it before reaching that age. You may also notice the warning signs of canine arthritis in six or seven-year-old dogs, but secondary factors cause these symptoms.

What are the Other Risk Factors for Canine Arthritis?

The other contributing factors to arthritis in young dogs include:

  • Breed - Larger canines are more likely to be diagnosed with early arthritis. Small and medium-sized young dogs may also develop the condition, but most breeds in this category are less likely to do so.
  • Weight - Keeping your pet at the right weight for their breed helps reduce stress on their joints. After all, excess weight affects a canine’s mobility, and obesity may lead to arthritis.
  • Your pet’s mobility - If your dog becomes less active, finds moving around challenging, or needs your help to move, they may have developed arthritis.
  • How Do I Know If My Pet Has Arthritis?

    Typically, young canines with arthritis limp, raise and support one or more legs, and walk in a stiff, awkward manner. They may also feel unwilling to exercise, disinterested in playing games, lick themselves too much, yelp, sleep more than usual, or do bunny hops.

    Other warning signs of arthritis in puppies and growing dogs include increased muscle mass in their unaffected limbs and muscle loss in the hind legs. Moreover, some canines with arthritis may show more aggressive behavior.

    Pay close attention to how your pet acts or goes about their day. Does your dog show unusual behavior? Are they moving freely and easily, or are they suddenly indifferent toward you?

    How Should I Manage Arthritis in Young Dogs?

    If your pet has already been diagnosed with arthritis, here are some practical ways to manage their condition.

    Ensure Your Canine is at a Healthy Weight

    Weight management is essential to caring for young dogs with arthritis. A heavier canine feels more stress on their joints, becomes inactive, and experiences persistent pain. When your pet is at the right body weight, their ribs won’t be visible.

    The so-called hand test can help you determine whether your canine is at a healthy weight. Get your pet to stand up, then touch the ribs. If the bones feel like the back of your hand, your canine has achieved their ideal weight. Otherwise, you may need to increase your dog’s weight.

    Create a Safe Environment for Your Pet at Home

    You can also help your canine reduce their pain and discomfort with a safe home. Here’s how to make them feel more comfortable at home.

  • Use non-slip mats, rugs, or carpets. With these items, your pet can move around the house without slipping. Non-slip rugs reduce the pressure on canine joints, easing your dog’s pain.
  • Buy the right dog bed. Ideally, your pet’s bed must cushion their joints. Opt for a bed made of thick memory foam instead of box springs or polyfill to help reduce your canine’s pain.
  • Install a pet gate to ensure your dog’s safety while you’re away from home.
  • Have your canine use a sling or dog-lift harness for easier movement.
  • Keep Your Dog Active

    Constant physical activity is another good way to manage arthritis in puppies and growing dogs. As a starting point, encourage your dog to perform moderate exercise daily. Take your canine on a 10 or 15-minute walk three to four times a day to help them stay active.

    If you’re looking for another low-impact exercise for dogs with arthritis, consider swimming. It works your canine’s cardiovascular system, increases their metabolism, and aids in maintaining healthy muscles and joints. Frequent physical activity allows your pet’s body to produce more joint fluid, ensuring their joints keep moving.

    Give Your Pet Joint Supplements

    Your veterinarian may also prescribe joint supplements to help manage arthritis in a young canine. Common dog joint supplements include MSM (methylsulfonyl), glucosamine hydrochloride, and fish oil.

    Fish oil for dogs comes from cold-water fish and contains omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). These essential acids help reduce inflammation in your pet’s body and manage conditions such as skin allergies, arthritis, and heart disease.

    When giving your canine fish oil, make sure they take the right dosage of the supplement. Dogs should consume 75 to 100 mg/kg of the total EPA/DHA in fish oil a day, but we recommend giving them a maximum daily dosage of roughly 100 mg/kg. Your pet’s actual fish oil dosage range depends on their weight.

    How Do You Give Fish Oil to Dogs?

    If your canine eats wet food, you can mix fish oil into their meal. Alternatively, your pet can take a liquid supplement or fish oil capsule. These forms of fish oil may be given with or without food.

    Whichever method you choose, always follow the instructions on the supplement label to prevent potential side effects like digestive problems, nausea, and delayed wound healing. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet shows these symptoms after consuming fish oil.

    Help Your Pet Stay Healthy with the Right Care for Arthritis

    Arthritis can affect dogs of any age, including younger ones. While seeing your pup facing such a challenge is distressing, proper care makes managing their condition easier.

    Hence, it’s crucial to learn about canine arthritis and how to help your pet stay healthy despite their diagnosis. This way, you ensure a better quality of life for your beloved four-legged companion.

    For more expert tips on canine health and nutrition, visit the Stryde blog today.