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As pets age their health and mobility needs change. Senior dogs and cats are at great risk for developing any number of medical conditions that impacts their daily activity. With symptoms ranging from joint pain and inflammation to lameness, it’s vital that every pet parent understands the common mobility conditions their senior pet may develop. Here are the five most common pet mobility conditions that ever pet parent needs to know about:
1. Degenerative Myelopathy or DM
Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive spinal condition in senior dogs. Although DM can occur in many different dog breeds, degenerative myelopathy most commonly impacts German Shepherds. Dogs in the earliest stages of degenerative myelopathy experience weakness in their back legs, drag their paws, and may have issues with coordination. As the disease worsens, so do it’s symptoms. In later stages of the disease, the DM begins to progress up the spine with the dog becoming paralyzed in it’s back legs and eventually the front legs as well.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a hereditary condition that spreads through bad breeding practices. If the genetic markers for DM appear in a dog, they should not be bred. It’s important to know that DM is not a painful disease, but it will weaken your pet and lead to eventual mobility loss. DM will progress differently in each dog, however most DM dogs will progress through the different stages over the course of a year.
2. Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD
IVDD is a spinal condition, Veterinarians may also diagnose IVDD as a spinal disc rupture, herniated disc, or slipped disc. Pets with intervertebral disk disease often experience sudden changes in their mobility and even become paralyzed. The symptoms of IVDD often occur suddenly, usually after a period of activity. Most often the dog will yelp in pain, show signs of immediate distress and mobility loss.
Both the dachshund and corgi breed are considered to be at high risk for intervertebral disc disease, although over 40 different dog breeds are impacted by the condition. An IVDD back brace supports your pet’s spinal injury as it heals and prevents further back injury from occurring. A dog back brace supports the spine and surrounding back muscles to limit range of motion as the ruptured disc heals.
3. Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs and a leading cause of canine hip pain. There are multiple stages of hip dysplasia based on the severity of the hip joint malformation and its impact on a dog’s mobility.
Hip dysplasia pain and symptoms worsen overtime as a pet ages, but early signs can be detected in puppies just a few months old. Hip dysplasia is a painful joint condition that leads to swollen joints and mobility problems. Mild to moderate hip dysplasia can be treated with a combination of physiotherapy, joint supplements, and canine hip support A hip dysplasia brace provides a dog’s hip joint with pressure and support which relieves hip pain and encourages mobility. More severe dysplasia cases will require surgery and may require a dog wheelchair for continued activity.
4. Cruciate and Knee Injuries in Dogs
Knee injuries and CCL tears are among the most common injuries in dogs. In fact, 85% of all lameness in dogs is a result of a knee injury. They can impact pets of any age and level of fitness. Knee injuries in dogs can be caused by activity, breed, age, and a pet’s weight. Obese dogs are at high risk for joint injuries due to the additional strain their added weight put on their joints.
CCL injuries can range from mild or partial tears to more severe complete CCL tears. A dog with a partial cruciate tear will show signs of limping and inability to bear weight on the injured leg, that will resolve itself on it’s own. The cruciate ligament attaches the back of the femur to the front of the tibia, the CCL keeps the tibia in place and stabilizes a dog’s knee joint. When a dog’s cruciate tears or ruptures the knee loses stabilization, which leads to debilitating mobility problems.
5. Arthritis and How It Impacts Pets
Osteoarthritis in dogs can impact any joint in their body. This includes the spine, hips, or leg joints. Sometimes diagnosed as degenerative joint disease (DJD), arthritis is a progressive worsening of joint inflammation. Age, repetitive stress particularly in incredible athletic dogs, genetics, weight, and past injuries can all contribute to a pet’s risk of developing arthritis as they get older.
Minor cases of arthritis are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms aren’t as noticeable. As the arthritis worsens and becomes more painful a pet’s joints stiffen, leading to limping, reluctance to move, and eventual loss of muscle mass and strength.
A dog with mobility problems will need to see the vet more often than a “healthy” dog. These appointments are more than just wellness checks. During your visit the vet will check for signs that your dog’s symptoms are changing or worsening and make sure they’re getting best care they need.
Use dog mobility devices
Mobility aids, such as a dog wheelchair or a dog mobility harness with handles can drastically improve your pet’s quality of life. Elderly dogs and pet’s dealing with mobility loss need the assistance in order to get outside, climb the stairs, or play. Keeping your dog active and getting regular exercise is crucial to their mental and physical health.