Joint health is an important part of your dog's health. When the joints don't work properly, it can hurt your dog. It can also cause mobility problems, which is why it's vital to keep your dog's joints in good shape.
Interestingly enough, in addition to fighting off infections, the immune system plays an important role in maintaining healthy joints and preventing or slowing degenerative joint disease.
Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is a collective term for the condition that affects the joints of older dogs. DJD is not a single disease, but rather a general term that describes a variety of conditions that cause pain and loss of mobility in your dog's joints.
In dogs with DJD, the cartilage that normally covers the ends of bones wears down over time, causing painful inflammation and swelling. As this happens, it can become difficult for your dog to walk, run or jump.
The most common joints affected by DJD are the hips, elbows and shoulders.
The symptoms of DJD vary depending on which joint(s) are affected. In general, there will be pain and stiffness upon rising from rest and/or exercise. The dog may limp or favor one limb while walking; sometimes they will not want to walk at all because it hurts too much.
Some dogs with DJD have difficulty getting up when lying down due to stiffness in their joints. Some dogs may experience severe lameness after strenuous activity such as jumping off furniture or running around in the yard for an extended period of time.
Dogs with DJD may also experience swelling at the affected joint(s) due to inflammation and fluid buildup within the joint capsule.
Causes of Dog Degenerative Joint Disease
The most common causes of degenerative joint disease include:
- Genetics: Degenerative joint disease tends to run in families of certain breeds, including Dalmatians and Beagles. If you have one dog affected by degenerative joint disease, there's a good chance your other dogs will be affected as well.
- Age: As dogs get older, their bodies start to deteriorate more quickly than they did when they were younger. This includes the development of degenerative joint disease in older dogs who have never been diagnosed with this condition before.
- Lack of exercise: A dog's body needs exercise just like a human's does. Without proper exercise, dogs become overweight or obese and that puts additional pressure on their joints.
Boosting the Dog Immune System
The immune system is made up of different types of cells and proteins that work together to protect the body from infection and illness. When the immune system detects a virus or bacteria, it sends out chemical signals called cytokines, which recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) and other chemicals that are involved in fighting off disease. These cells then attack whatever is causing illness in order to kill it or prevent its growth within your body.
The problem with osteoarthritis is that these same signals may attack healthy tissue as well as diseased tissue, causing severe pain or inflammation in joints.
The key to improving your dog’s joint health is boosting their immune system so it works properly. An immune system that is working properly reduces inflammation and slows cartilage breakdown.
A Natural Immune Booster for Dogs
Providing the body with a natural immune boost is the best way to support the joints and immune system together. The following are helpful in doing so:
- Curcumin: Curcumin, a component of turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory agent in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
- Boswellia: Boswellia works by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. It blocks certain enzymes involved in inflammation and also seems to decrease levels of certain chemicals involved in inflammation.
- Hemp extract: The active ingredients in hemp are shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and help with pain relief. They also stimulate the immune system and help reduce swelling, joint stiffness and muscle spasms.
- Eggshell membrane: The eggshell membrane is composed primarily of collagen fibers, which are the same type of protein found in tendons, ligaments and skin. Collagen promotes tissue repair which can reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. It also contains other proteins such as laminin, fibronectin and hyaluronic acid, which are responsible for bringing together cells into tissues during wound healing.
Finding a high-quality supplement containing all of the above, like Canine Cush, can help ease your dog’s joint pain while boosting immunity.
A Healthy Lifestyle
One of the most important things to remember is that nothing works better than a healthy lifestyle. If your dog is getting enough exercise, eating a balanced diet, and living in a clean environment, then they’re already going to be well on their way to having strong immune systems.
However, there are some additional steps you can take to help boost their health and reduce their risk of illness and disease in the first place, like the remedies listed above.