Joint and Bone Damage in Dogs that can be caused by humans
I am writing this to help people understand how fragile young dog’s joints and bone are.
Too many people are letting young dogs do inappropriate activities that can lead to
unnecessary injuries or permanent damage to joints and bones. This is most import for the
first year of a dog’s life and extremely important during the first 6 months while growth plates
are closing. The information below is for pups and young dogs under 1 year of age.
Our dogs are already on the large side. A dog’s size is not about weight of fat it is about
bone, muscle and body type. Do not over feed them. A dog will weigh what he is supposed to
weigh when he is full grown at about 2-3 years old. Over feeding when young will not make
him grow bigger it will only harm his joints. You should be able to see an outline of the ribs
and easily feel the spine. For long coats or full coats you should be able to easily feel his ribs.
Try to find food with a supplement of Vitamin C for ligament support and glucosamine and
chondroitin for joint support.
Do not let you puppy or dog less than 1 year old run up and down stairs. If you cannot
teach him to walk slowly while doing the stairs then put him on a leash and make him go
slow. When you cannot supervise put up a baby gate.
Do not let you young dog jump on and off furniture, in and out of cars or on and off of any
surface higher than 12 inches. This does not mean you need to fully carry him or pick him
up. Assist your dog when he needs to come down or off. Teach him to wait and then put
your arm under the front part of his body and then let him come out while you support him
weight while he lands. Assist your dog when he has to jump in or on. Teach your dog “feet
up” that means he can put his front feet up on the area and you can then pick up his hind
end. One wrong jump off of a couch etc can cripple your dog for life. Try sitting on the floor
with your puppy not putting him on the couch with you. Try a ramp for your car, but teach the
dog to walk on it not run on it.
Do not let you young dog jump over anything higher than 12 inches. They can jump high
but it is very bad for them till they are at least 1 year old.
Do not let your young dog fall off of a high surface. If he falls it is because you did not watch
him well enough.
When playing ball or toys that you throw Do Not throw them high in the air, you do not want
the pup to jump to try to catch the toy. Do Not throw it far, the more speed your pup has the
harder he has to stop to get the toy, this puts unnecessary and extreme pressure on his front
Do not take you young dog for long “exercise” type walks. That would be a consistent walk
or run without a stop of over 15 minutes. They can go on a long walk or a “stroll” as long as it
has frequent stops to rest. If your dog lies down and is hesitate to get back up and walk
again he is trying to tell you something, like he is tired, sore or over heated.
During puppy playday here I have seen many of these things going on. Dogs jumping out of
cars, dog going over jumps in our yard that where set too high and then doing it repeatedly,
dogs falling off of the dog walk or A frame since the owner was not close enough to help the
dog. If I see it happening here then it is for sure happening at home.
It is strongly recommended that spaying and neutering wait till 18 months old as it has been
found to adversely affect the joints of large breed dogs.
The American Veterinary Medical Assoc. “potential health problems associated with spaying
and neutering have also been identified, including an increased risk of prostatic cancer in
males; increased risks of bone cancer and hip dysplasia in large-breed dogs associated with
sterilization before maturity; and increased incidences of obesity, diabetes, urinary tract
infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism.” Ref: AVMA.org
Anyone can make these mistakes. I myself am guilty of some over the years. No one wants
to hurt their puppy or young dog that is why I wrote this, to help you think of some things
you may not have.
Even full grown adult dogs need monitoring. I love doing dog sports with my dogs but I am
cautious for their health. Example in Agility many of the times required or the jumps and
turns are extreme and I will choose to run it slower, lower, or more cautious so my dog will
not risk getting hurt. First place is not important to me, qualifying and have safe fun with my
dogs is important. I broke my foot once running agility and if I can do that so can my dog.
Have fun with your pup and treat him like a baby after all that is what he is for the first year.
Not all things, that he thinks he can do or even can do, are good for him. You need guide him