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Bad Joints: What can you do?
Last review: 08/12/10  JR Rogers

We all suffer when our pets are hurting. It probably makes it worse when we see them "nursing" a bum joint. It helps to know what you can and cannot expect when you are facing an issue like this.

How far and fast?

The joint structure in our pets is complex. Basically, they have (as we do) joints that are cushioned and floating inside soft tissue mass. If the fundamental joint is bad, you have to understand that you are unlikely to change that. What you can do is improve the odds and make your pet more comfortable.

Hip Dysplasia and More

When a joint in a pet is poorly formed, it can be caused by many factors. In some cases it is an inherited situation. In others, diet has played a role. There are other factors at work as well.

It's a Complicated System

Pets have a system of pain signals much like we do. Pain comes from the joint that is "out of whack" and your pet begins to show signs of pain. Unfortunately, their bodies are sending out pain messages to their brains and even those get "confused." In other words, the signals from their brains which work with the injured part of the body also get mixed up.

The Vet Steps In

As these bad joints get progressively worse, limping begins. Just as humans do, a pet is going to respond to a painful joint much like we do. They limp. It is natural for us to run to the vet who has a big arsenal at their disposal. It may mean surgery, the use of steroids or typically, NSAID's.

For those who read this column regularly, it is basically the same old story. I do not agree with using NSAID's and make no secret of that fact. Plus, steroids can be dangerous. It goes without saying that I consider surgery to be the "court of last resort."

The Better Approach

Most of us begin to see problems developing before they get out of control. It is often useful to begin a regimen of using a high-quality liquid Glucosamine as a preventive step. It is inexpensive and can save a lot of expense later. More importantly, the price is very low when compared to putting your pet at risk of increasing pain issues.

When you take early preventative steps it saves in the long run. Normally, this regimen of prevention combined with a good diet and moderate exercise goes a long way to preventing the larger issue. When joint structural problems get out of control, inflammation begins. When that happens, it only gets progressively worse. And, that is when the pain signal system in their bodies can begin the process of mixed signals.

All I can do is suggest that this is a smart move and it helps pets to avoid what can be called major problems down the road.