Preventing Bone and Joint Issues
this page is a companion to our page on bone and joint health —— please read bone and joint health first as many things shared on this prevention page assume that the information there has already been read.
So, we established on the Bone and Joint Health page that testing when it comes to bone and joint issues isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, that skeletal issues (like hip dysplasia) aren’t actually highly heritable traits, but that the majority of the factors to whether or not a dog suffers from some of these issues is actually environment! So, this page is going to focus on telling you what we do here (in the very important first 8 weeks) and what you can do at home (especially while your puppy is growing) to have the best chances of your dog developing a health and normal skeletal system.
what we do
To begin with, as I do not want to downplay any genetic factor in these issues, I do want to emphasize again, we absolutely research our parent dogs pedigrees and have a very careful eye on the development and health of each of our parent dogs! Although bone and joint issues absolutely do arise in dogs without a family history of these problems, it is still important that a breeder be careful about the crosses made. This is, of course, where we start. We know our parent dogs well and monitor them closely, and would NEVER breed a dog that we knew to have issue.
With that said, we then take many steps to make sure that all of our puppies have the best possible start.
To begin with, we have nutrition in our parent dogs. Each of our dogs are fed a high quality diet with high quality, specific supplements for their lives with us. This is important, because their nutrition is the building block for what will become your puppy! We pay extra special attention to the nutrition of both parents in the time right before conception, and in the mother during gestation and nursing. This gives your pup the best start and makes sure that we provide them with all the potential possible!
Next, our puppies are raised with very careful attention to surface type and environment from birth forward to prevent joint laxity. One small example, our Cockapoo pups are litter trained, never newspaper trained, as the slippery surface that newspapers on the floor creates does not provide stability for the joints. We are constantly learning, researching, and taking opportunity to further our education in order to provide the most healthy environment we possibly can for your puppy. We have built a very careful, purposeful environment for our dogs and the whelping process that keeps in mind the health of your puppy’s bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. We aim to make sure there is as little stress and strain on these systems as possible and that all growth and play takes place on surfaces that support all aspects of proper growth and development.
Our puppies are started on a very high quality diet as soon as they are introduced to solid food. We are mindful of many body systems in their feeding, including very carefully chosen supplements aimed at bone and joint support (read about bone, joint, and immune system supplements given to every single one of our dogs, and recommended for every single one of our puppies here!) without overdosing on minerals that are harmful to joint development——which is a hard thing to balance! This helps to build and maintain strong bones, tight tendons, ligaments, and joints from the start.
From there, the next thing we do is provide our families with thoughts and guidelines on how they can think about how to set things up at home to continue to foster a careful environment at home through the growth period, and beyond.
what families can do at home to prevent bone and joint issues
There are several things that families should be doing at home in order to keep their puppy’s bones and joints in the best possible condition. I’m going to first talk about the life-long things that you should be doing, and then go on to talk about the growth-period specific things to pay extra attention to when bringing puppy home and through the time that puppy is growing.
fOR THE WHOLE OF YOUR DOG’S LIFE…
The first thing that should be in the corner of EVERY dog owner’s mind is keeping their dog in optimal body condition. Although nutrition and food type IS important, a dog that is overweight on the most expensive, highest quality food is STILL in danger. An overweight dog is NOT a healthy dog——in fact, a little underweight is safer and easier to remedy than overweight! From puppyhood into senior years, every stage of life and every body system will be improved by your puppy’s body condition being in the ideal range. Be sure to recognize that your dog is an individual, and more important than monitoring a number or specific weight, we emphasize monitoring and maintaining proper condition. If you need more information on how to do this, please visit our page on management by clicking below:
The second BIG difference you can make in the life of your dogs bone and joint health is careful supplementation. Just like in humans, a specific, carefully sourced supplement to target prevention (or treatment) of an issue can be one of the biggest “bang-for-your-buck” things you can do. Now this can be a bit tricky, as things have to be in perfect balance specific for dogs——-for example, Calcium should be a great bone and joint supplement…right? Well, actually, giving your puppy calcium can actually CAUSE skeletal issues! So we recommend purchasing a supplement that is scientifically formulated for dogs. The bone and joint supplement we choose for our dogs for life is NuVet’s NuJoint Plus. The ingredients are simple——just four perfectly proportioned, nutrient rich ingredients that are flavored with real chicken liver. I will plan on going more in-depth on a future supplement page, but for now you can learn lots more about this company and their products here. We recommend both the NuJoint Plus and NuVet Plus K9 Wafers for EVERY puppy we send home.
We also have several families who have seen EXCELLENT results in their older dogs that were really slowing down when they added NuJoint to their daily routine. For example, my own sister put her senior lab on NuJoint, and saw a very fast improvement in her abilities——even able to jump back up on the bed for the first time in three years! And, although you are preventing and, therefore, won’t see a DIFFERENCE in a puppy, there is a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t see results in your older dog. It is a wonderful supplement from a company that we recommend and respect highly.