HD, Joint & Mobility Problems
At one point or another, most dogs will experience joint problems. Although this usually occurs when they are older, young dogs can suffer from joint problems as well. Joint problems are most common in certain (large) breed dogs and are caused partly by genetic predisposition. Contrarily, joint problems can also occur due to an unsuited diet or sudden, rash movements.
Give your Puppy Time to Develop
The physical development of dogs can be negatively influenced at an early stage. A common problem is taking a puppy on too long a walk. It is much better to take a young dog out for a few short walks during the day, rather than one long walk. A basic rule of thumb is that the amount of minutes you walk your puppy should equal its age in weeks. This means an additional minute is added to the walk each week, in order to gradually build up the amount of exercise.
Movement and Flooring
There are certain types of movement that are not good for young dogs to do, such as jumping, climbing stairs, tight turns or walking on slippery floors. Canine arthritis can occur when dogs improperly overburden their joints. This causes erosion of cartilage, which necessary for smooth movements and shock absorption in the joints. Good types of movement and exercise include swimming and walking in a straight line.
The Right Diet
It is important to make sure that your puppy receives the right diet as low quality food or food with an inaccurate phosphorus and calcium balance can actually pave the way for the development of joint problems. This is particularly true of large breed puppies, as the right diet can help prevent many types of problems. Obesity is another main contributor to joint problems so it is essential to closely monitor dogs that have a tendency to become overweight
Predisposition for Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia or HD, is an abnormal formation of the hip joint such that the femur head no longer fits into the hip socket properly. This creates too much room for movement in the hip joint and can even lead to arthritis and severe pain. HD is most common in large breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs and Basset Hounds. Generally, breeders should be able to provide a lot of information regarding the dog's parents including an x-ray of the hip and elbow joints. Based on the x-ray, a mark is given that provides insight into the likelihood of there being a genetic predisposition for offspring.
In almost all joint problem cases, movement is painful. Because of this, arthritic dogs often experience difficulty getting up and, once they are up, their movements are stiff, strenuous or they might even limp. Typically, this happens when dogs get out of their beds in the morning or after laying down for a long period of time but can diminish once the dog has 'warmed up' or has walked for some time. Unfortunately, it is common for dogs to be in so much pain that they do not get up from their beds. This is easily attributed to old age and can therefore go unnoticed by the owner.