Bone and joint problems affect a large number of pets, often worsening as an animal ages. These conditions are painful, and can seriously impact mobility and quality of life.
Arthritis is the most common cause of joint pain in pets. It is believed to affect an estimated 20% of dogs over a year of age, and 61% of cats over the age of 6 have been shown to have arthritis in at least one joint.
With so many of our pets suffering from bone and joint conditions such as arthritis, what can responsible pet owners do to prevent and manage these conditions?
In today's post we'll look at ways to protect your pet's bones and joints, and help prevent problems from developing as they age. We'll also explore how coconut oil can contribute to strong and healthy bones and joints.
What Causes Bone and Joint Conditions?
Degenerative conditions such as arthritis can have a variety of causes. Some are caused by autoimmune or infectious diseases that cause degeneration of the joints, others by genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia that can cause joint degeneration early in life.
Some pets are more prone to bone and joint conditions - as many as 80% of certain large breed dogs will develop arthritis.
But preventable, non-hereditary factors can also contribute in a large number of cases. And that means there are ways to prevent or slow down the degenerative process in many pets.
Let's take a look at some of the most common non-hereditary causes of these conditions, and the measures you can take to counteract them.
Feeding a commercial diet high in carbohydrates can cause weight gain and obesity. Extra weight on your pet's frame can cause serious and irreparable damage that can lead to a huge range of problems - including painful conditions of the bones and joints.
The best foods to feed are living, raw, fresh and species-appropriate. These foods support your pet's health throughout their lifetime, and protect them from illness and disease.
You can also prevent weight gain by giving suitable species-appropriate treats. Dogs and cats are carnivores; so feed them protein-based treats made of meat.
Early trauma and injury can contribute to bone and joint conditions later in life. Puppies and younger dogs are especially prone to trips and falls that may seem minor at the time, but can add up to problems later on.
The best thing you can do as a pet owner is help your pet avoid unnecessary trips, falls, and traumas. You can make things safer around the house by carpeting stairs and placing rugs on slippery floors to avoid accidents.
It's also important to use a harness rather than a collar to prevent trauma to the neck and spine when dogs strain on their leash.
Lack of Exercise
Sedentary pets are at high risk of developing bone and joint disorders. That's why it's important to provide plenty of opportunity for pets of all ages to exercise.
Dogs should partake in vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes, 3 times per week. Walks provide your dog with exercise and mental stimulation, and are a very beneficial form of exercise.
Mix up short walks for potty breaks with longer walks that allow more time for exploration. You could also consider walking at a brisker pace to provide more intense exercise.
Indoor exercise is also important, especially for less mobile dogs or indoor pets such as house cats. Regular exercise has the additional benefit of improving your pet's mental health and addressing behavioral issues.
For more information about stimulating your pet both physically and mentally inside and outside the house check out our post, Environmental Enrichment for Pets - What It Is an Why It Matters.
Using Virgin Coconut Oil to Protect Joints and Bones
Virgin coconut oil can be added to your pet's diet to protect their bones and joints. When food is taken together with coconut oil, the body can more easily absorb vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are essential for bone and joint health.
Virgin coconut oil also functions like an antioxidant, inhibiting the destructive action of free radicals that can contribute to joint and bone conditions such as arthritis. This combination of improved mineral absorption and protection against damaging free radicals promotes strong, healthy bone and joint growth in pets.
For pets with existing bone and joint conditions, virgin coconut oil helps lubricate joints. It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory due to its high lauric acid content. And thanks to coconut oil's antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, it protects against painful conditions caused by infections in the joints.
Our recent post, How to Use Coconut Oil With Your Pets contains more information about introducing coconut oil to your pet's diet.
It's also important to choose a therapeutic-grade virgin coconut oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil. We take great care to produce oil that's safe, unrefined, and high in lauric and caprylic acid - the medium-chain fatty acids known for their antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Please visit our website to find out more about the health benefits of CocoTherapy therapeutic-grade coconut oil.
Does your pet suffer from bone and joints problems? Let us know in the comments.
By Richard Rowlands