Joints are where two bones meet. They are fluid and are important factors in making your dog move. However, due to friction of everyday movements, wear and tear occurs and over time, this will result in pain and weakness in your Shiba Inu’s joints.
And this is why it is essential, we, pet owners, are aware of the precautions we can take to ensure our Shiba Inu have healthy joints, as well as the common joint problems our pet might be exposed to.
Symptoms of joint problems in dogs
Joint problems are very common medical issues with dogs. They have a lot of different causes which you should take note of and never ignore.
Usually, it is senior dogs that are more at risk of joint pains. However, large breeds are also observed to be more prone to joint problems because of their size and weight.
However, this does not mean that small or medium-sized dogs are completely free of this medical concern. Obesity, physical trauma, or other diseases can also lead to joint problems, regardless of size.
Another thing to remember is that there are joint problems that are more present in specific breeds and can rarely be seen in others.
So if you see your Shiba Inu displaying the following signs, it’ll be worth taking them to the vet and checking them.
Struggling to get on and off the couch. Dogs are masters at getting on and off the couch, especially bigger breeds. But joint problems can make even this easy task painful and uncomfortable. No fret if it happened once or twice, dogs can be clumsy, after all. But if it has been re-occurring, joint issues might be at hand.
Decrease in activity. Older dogs usually lose interest in running and playing and joint problems also attribute to this. But, if your Shiba Inu suddenly stops or there is a significant decrease in activity, there might be underlying joint pain.
Unusual sleeping and sitting positions. Joint issues can also make the comfiest position uncomfortable. If you observe your Shiba Inu sleeping or sitting in an unusual position, joint pain might be present.
Irritability. When we are not feeling well, certain things tick us off and that’s how dogs usually react, as well. Unknowing to their discomfort, we might try to play with and touch them in painful places. Keep in mind, irritability is also a sign of different medical conditions.
Lameness and limping. As the condition develops, so does the symptoms. When the pain becomes stronger, your Shiba will find it hard to use his limbs and will avoid stepping on them.
Painful whimpers. Dogs can’t exactly tell you word for word their feelings, but they can certainly whimper and that should tell you something. When the pain is too much, your Shiba will whimper in pain, and when he does, immediately take him to the vet.
Common joint issues in dogs
Two types of joint issues might hurt your Shiba Inu: degenerative and developmental joint pain.
Developmental Joint Issues
Developmental joint issues are conditions from birth. These are caused by genetics, where your puppy’s joints don’t develop properly when young. Examples of this are elbow or hip dysplasia.
These issues are commonly seen in larger dogs but can also be present in pups of different sizes. Rottweilers, for example, are prone to developing knee and ankle joint problems, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to elbow dysplasia.
Degenerative Joint Issues
Degenerative joint issues, on the other hand, are caused by wear and tear. This happens over time. The most common under this kind are cruciate ligament problems, where tissues degenerate because of repeated use. Complications and severe pain might develop as a result.
Degenerative joint issues have different causes, from stress fractures to injuries and osteoarthritis. They are also common with larger dogs since their weight strains their joints more.
Here are the common causes of joint pain:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Dietary and hormonal diseases (e.g. hyperparathyroidism, obesity)
- Inflammatory joint disease
How to take care of your Shiba Inu’s joints
It is unfortunate if your Shiba is born with a joint issue, but if he’s not, nothing should stop you from trying to make sure his joints are healthy as he grows.
Here are two things you can do to care for your Shiba Inu’s joints.
Exercise plays a huge factor in your dog’s quality of life. It is responsible for many factors, such as bodily functions, physical, and even emotional aspects.
However, when your dog gets older, even exercising, activities that he loves will become a challenge. This is why it is important to recognize signs of pain early on to prevent it from worsening.
Here are exercises that are beneficial but not as taxing for your dogs:
Hydrotherapy. Only some dog owners would usually go for hydrotherapy, but water-based activities are good exercises. They lighten the impact on the joints while still working on important parts of the body. You can hire a hydrotherapy expert or use a home pool.
Walks. Dogs love walking, but as the owner, it is up to you to adjust these walks so that it doesn’t do more harm than good in the future. If you have a puppy, two 20-minute walks might be better than one 40-minute walk. If you have a senior dog, steep hills might not be as beneficial for them.
Playing with other dogs. A good run with fellow dogs is also, and sometimes, the best option. This way, your dog burns energy in the most natural and unrestricted way possible. It also helps with socialization.
Diet is also a preventive measure for any joint issue, especially if your dog is overweight. For some breeds, being overweight is not obvious, so consult your veterinarian just to be sure.
But those extra pounds can take a toll on your dog’s joints, straining them as they carry your Shiba’s weight.
If your dog is indeed diagnosed with obesity or being overweight, it will break your heart, but you might have to control meals and alter what kind of food you are feeding him.