Some of the many afflictions that can beset older dogs are hip and joint problems. In particular, osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia are common issues. These are also easy to miss if you don't know what you are looking for, as they sometimes just seem like signs of old age, but they can often be fixed so it is important to keep an eye out.
Osteoarthritis, for example, is often characterised by stiffness in the way your dog walks. This can make your pet less active, and sometimes give them the appearance of limping or lameness. It is easy to see how this could be mistaken for simply getting older, but it is a condition that can be treated.
Hip dysplasia has similar symptoms. Dogs with this issue will be less likely to run or jump, and will struggle to stand up. You may notice your dog distributing more of their weight onto their front paws, as using their back legs might be painful, and they may develop increased muscle mass around their shoulders as a result.
Dealing with these issues usually requires medical intervention. You should take your dog to the vet if they display any symptoms, and hopefully they can treat it. However, there are other steps you can take to help your pet with these conditions.
Diet is a major factor in the health of dogs. Feeding them the right foods can have major positive effects on their quality of life. For a dog with hip dysplasia, being overweight is a big problem, as it puts additional strain on the hips.
Make sure you are not feeding your dog too much. It might be worth switching to a brand such as Royal Canin dog food. This will enable you to tailor your dog's diet to their age, and also help them lose weight, as there are a variety of foods available for senior and overweight dogs.
For a dog with osteoarthritis, try to add omega-3 fatty acids to your pet's diet. These will help to reduce the inflammation in your dog's joints. For dogs on the BARF diet, this means adding some cod or other fish to their dinner.
Written by: Hannah Dyball