When you’re watching your dog play, jump and zoom around, have you ever stopped to wonder about the mechanics behind their antics? And if they suddenly start taking longer to get up, lag behind on walkies or seem reluctant to even head out in the first place, are you left puzzled as to what’s changed?
Well, ponder no more! We’ve put together a handy guide to demystify the inner workings of your canine companion, and suggest how you can help them live their most active life for longer, should the dreaded stiffness kick in.
What’s a joint?
In a nutshell, joints are found throughout your dog’s body wherever two bones meet. Their function is two-fold: to provide motion and flexibility to the skeleton, and to act as shock absorbers. Without them, they simply wouldn’t be able to move! Joints are made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and a lubricating fluid, all enveloped within a tough joint capsule.
The synovial (or ‘free-moving’) joints most affected by stiffness in dogs are:
How does a joint function?
A joint links one bone to another to allow your dog to move where they connect – think of how a hinge connects a door to a wall. For the bones to stay flexible, the joints are well oiled thanks to synovial fluid, a sticky substance that washes around the joint. What’s more, slippery tissue known as cartilage cushions the ends of the bones in the joints, allowing them to glide past each other when moving around.
What changes when a joint becomes stiff?
When a dog’s joint is no longer in peak condition, there’s a whole different scenario going on beneath their fur:
- Cartilage becomes thinner, worn and uneven. Pieces may break off.
- The joint capsule becomes inflamed. Over time it can become toughened and stiff.
- The synovial fluid changes in consistency, becoming thinner and less lubricating.
In short, the smooth sliding motion of the joint is lost. Every time your pup moves their joints, the cartilage grinds together, causing swelling and, in turn, difficulties moving as freely as before. The cartilage can become so worn that the bone underneath becomes damaged.
It could well be that your dog’s stiff joints come about because of ageing – after all, it comes to us all! However, larger breeds such as Labrador Retrievers are more prone to joint stiffness than others and may experience symptoms at an earlier point in their lives.
Another reason for joint stiffness in your dog could be down to a bacterial infection, which leads to painful swelling in one or more joints. Again, larger breeds tend to be most affected by this.
Signs of stiffness
Dogs are very good at hiding stiffness in their joints, so it’s up to us to recognise the signs. Is your dog suddenly sleeping a lot more? Are they taking longer than usual to do your standard circuit round the woods, and is there reluctance to even make it out the door? Have they stopped bounding up the stairs to greet you first thing, or are they taking a while to haul themselves up after their morning snooze? These are all tell-tale signs your dog isn’t feeling as supple as they once did. You’ll find more details on what to look out for in this helpful blogpost.
How YuMOVE helps stiff joints
Think that joint supplements are just for older dogs? Think again! In fact, they can be given to dogs of any age. YuMOVE Adult soothes stiffness and supports long-term joint health. Or – if your dog needs more of a helping paw – why not give YuMOVE PLUS for Dogs a try? Meanwhile, YuMOVE Young & Active is the perfect way to support active and developing joints in growing pups and doggy athletes.
And it’s all down to our miracle ingredients working together to bring a spring to your dog’s step. Our ActivEase® Green Lipped Mussel is sourced from the crystal-clear waters of New Zealand and is packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids – essential for keeping joints in tip-top condition. There’s also Glucosamine, to help build cartilage, Manganese, vital in collagen formation, along with Hyaluronic Acid, which cushions and oils the joints. Not forgetting Vitamins C & E, of course, which work their magic to reduce inflammation.
Have you noticed your dog isn’t moving as freely as before? Then take a look at our YuMOVE range of joint supplements for dogs, where you’ll also find plenty of info on the potential benefits for your canine companion. We’d love to hear your feedback on our Facebook or Instagram pages!