Photo Credit: Daniela Jackob
Exercise is generally considered to be good for your pet’s health. However, can too much exercise cause arthritis in dogs?
According to Rialland, et. al, the prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) in the U.S. canine population is concerning. Nearly 20% of adult dogs, and 80% of dogs 8 years or older have arthritis [source].
Where arthritis is concerned, most experts agree that age is the leading factor for canine arthritis. It is most seen in middle age to older dogs. Larger breeds of dogs may also be more susceptible to arthritis, and hereditary or genetic factors may play a role as well.
Exercise and Dog Arthritis
Exercise tones the muscles, helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind. A lack of physical exercise can cause your dog to become sluggish, or even obese if they are not allowed to burn off calories that are consumed throughout the day.
Exercise does not necessarily cause arthritis in dogs. However, in a dog that is already exhibiting signs of arthritis, or in a dog breed where there is a propensity towards developing arthritis, a modified exercise regimen should be followed.
Exercise Modification for Dogs That Have Arthritis
There is no doubt that exercise is beneficial to dogs, regardless of whether they have canine arthritis or not. As is the case with most things, moderation is key. Too much exercise may cause the arthritis to worsen. On the other hand, modified exercise can help promote strong muscles and improve your dog’s circulation in otherwise tired, aching joints.
Before you try anything, be sure to speak to your veterinarian. Natural supplements, such as liquid glucosamine for dogs, combined with gentle exercises can help to reduce arthritis symptoms and prolong the health and happiness of your four-legged friend.
Keep in mind that what works for other people’s dogs may not be what is best for your dog. Each dog is unique. Therefore, you’ll want to introduce exercises slowly.
Factors Contributing To the Development of Canine Arthritis
There are many different factors that can contribute to your dog developing arthritis. Some of these include:
- Hip dysplasia (and other congenital joint disorders)
- Trauma to the joint(s)
- Metabolic diseases
- And more
Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis in Your Dog
Common signs and symptoms associated with canine arthritis include:
- Moving more slowly
- Difficulty getting up or down stairs
- Reduction in play levels
- Lack of enthusiasm
- And more
How Exercise Helps with Canine Arthritis
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), light to moderate exercise helps keep stiff joints supple and mobile:
“The exact exercise requirements depend on the individual dog, with 15 to 20 minutes of exercise twice daily often recommended, rather than one long, 40-minute walk. Ideal is swimming, a low-impact activity that improves muscle mass without over-stressing joints.”
Other ways that exercise can help relive arthritis symptoms include (but aren’t limited to):
Joint Stiffness Relief: If you’ve ever sat still for a long period of time, you’ll notice that your joints are slightly stiff when you move. The same is true of dogs who are sedentary. Exercise aids in flexibility and improved circulation – all which helps to strengthen muscles and relieve joint pain.
Weight Management: Dogs should maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting strain on joints. Regular exercise can prevent weight gain while building muscle to help strengthen the joints.
Better Rest: Studies show that regular exercise can help improve quality of sleep, which helps your dog’s body rest and recover.