Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting a little older


Lately I've noticed a little bit more white on the face and paws of my black labradors and I've been thinking about aging. My two pups are pretty young at ages 4 and 5, but dogs age too quickly (that's biased, but I'd like my pups to live as long as I do) and they can start to develop some of the symptoms of aging around middle age just like we do.  I notice that after a long play session or walk and then a nap (of course) that they are a little stiff.  The older our dogs get the less they stretch and the less flexible they become which can lead to minor injuries and stiffness.
   
There are a few ways you can combat the fatigue, soreness, and stiffness that can come with being a young-middle age active dog.
1. Stretching and Massage
2. Supplements
3. Walking/exercise
4.  Acupuncture

Stretching and Massage:
Of course this is number one, it's not just what I do, but it is one of the best preventions for injury and for alleviating painful sore or stiff muscles and joints.
When I first visit with any dog I look at how they move.  Not just how they walk, but how they sit, lay down,  and turn around.  This tells me a lot about what part of their body may be restricted, sore, stiff, or injured.  And this also helps me to figure out which muscles will need to be stretched and massaged too.  I keep mentioning stretching because that is a big part of what I do.  Massage is a useful too in helping injured and fatigued muscles and warming up tight and restricted muscles and joints, but stretching is great at releasing tension and stiffness and helping return that muscle/joint back to a normal range of motion and function.  A normal functioning muscle/joint has no pain and will not cause injuries.

Supplements:
My number two, a good supplement helps to support your dogs joints.  I always recommend getting the best you can afford as long as it contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.  There are plenty of options out there, and you can even give them human pills (but they taste horrible and some dogs won't eat them).  Check with your vet to see if they have one they recommend.  Currently our dogs get Dasaquin with MSM in a liver tablet form.
In dogs that have a chronic stiffness you can sometimes see a change in them within weeks of starting this treatment.
Your vet may also recommend fish oil, or other supplements to help with age related ailments.


Walking and Exercise:
Like fighting fire with fire.  Sometimes the best way to get rid of stiffness from exercise is to walk it off.  Walking is the best form of exercise, as I'm sure you have heard.  It's easy on the joints, great for the cardiovascular system, great for muscles, there's not really a downside to walking.  If you and your dog are into jogging, make sure you warm them up first with a short 3-5 minute brisk walk to prevent injuries.  And stretching a little bit before and after working out is very beneficial as well.  


Acupuncture:
This works great for all sorts of aging ailments.  I recommend this to patients that have problems with nerve function or chronic arthritis.  It's painfree and most dogs love it!  For more information please check out Becca Seitz of Thrive Acupuncture's Services.