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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #33
July 23, 2013

Old Bones

As another birthday has crept up on me I have discovered that older my body is definitely not what it used to be. When I was younger I would play sports all day long, go to bed really late and drink like a fish. No no no, I cannot do that anymore! I am in bed by 10pm, alcohol has been replaced by the necessary morning coffee and I groan at the thought of vigorous exercise. Unfortunately scientists have not created the fountain of youth yet for us humans nor our beloved canines. All the jumping and activities our Jacks do can take a huge toll on their bodies as they get older as my youth sports playing did to me. Prevention is key my friends. While I don't currently have arthritis I do pop a few vitamins in the morning, have the world's most padded comfortable bed and no longer go anywhere near a football field. But what can be done for our Jacks?

A dog's joints are made up of cartilage and soft tissue. Arthritis leads to inflammation of the soft connective tissue usually secondary to an injury or degenerative disease. Impact on a Jack's joints can definitely exacerbate this. In fact, one in every five dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis can be a slow progressing disease which is why the symptoms can be hard to notice even by experienced pet owners. A change in mood, activity level or behavior can be the first indication. So your Jack may start sleeping more and be less alert or even a bit grouchy. He may limp or favor one leg over the other or show hesitation before going down stairs. Your Jack may have trouble standing for longer periods of time and will show less interest in activities he previously loved. Because arthritis can inhibit movement, weight gain can be another sign.

If you see any of the above signs a trip to the vet may be necessary and the earlier the treatment the better. A vet can take x-rays to determine the possibility of arthritis versus a sprain or other ailment. Some easy things you can do to help your Jack is to make sure he is at a healthy weight and eating a grain free diet (fillers associated with grain and lower cost food can exacerbate symptoms as well as promote weight gain). Continue to make sure your Jack gets consistent walks - this will help keep the weight off as well as keep your Jack's muscles and mind active. Look at ways to make modifications around your house. You can buy doggy stairs that lead up to a favorite bed or couch so that your Jack doesn't have to jump. Or consider blocking off areas with long stretches of stairs with a baby gate. Make sure your Jack has a comfortable padded bed too so that he is well rested.

Your vet might feel the need for more intervention and could prescribe some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Rimadyl and Etogesic. They can have noticeable beneficial effects on a dog. It is important you are working in conjunction with a vet to get proper dosage to avoid bleeding disorders and ulcers. The next step up would be steroids which can help in the short term but could actually cause more joint breakdown with long term use.

Nutraceuticals are a really great option for pet owners in the treatment of arthritis. Nutraceuticals are considered a form of food or nutrient and are consumed orally as an addition to a normal diet. These substances are much safer than traditional "drugs" in that toxicity levels are rarely attainable if they are used in reasonable amounts. The most commonly used nutraceuticals in pet health care are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. With traditional drugs, dogs would demonstrate improvement and apparent comfort almost immediately, many have undesirable side effects. Nutraceuticals have little to no side effects but may take awhile before noticeable improvement in mobility and attitude are apparent. That's why I give nutraceuticals as a preventative measure with my Jacks. I personally like using Pet Alive Muscle and Joint Support Formula: Get More Info. on PetAlive Muscle & Joint Support Formula to Treat Symptoms, Relieve Pain and Reduce Stiffness of Arthritis, Rheumatism and Degenerative Joint Disease in Pets to both support joint paint and promote healthy muscles especially because it's all natural and contains glucosamine.

While arthritis is extremely common in both canines and humans, prevention can be very helpful in insuring a long and pain free life. Now go take care of both you and your Jack so that your daily walks are pain free for years to come!

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'Til Next Time...

Take care - and take care of your JRT!

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Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Tom McSherry and the Jack Russell Team

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