What’s better than playtime with a puppy? In addition to boundless energy, dogs seem to be made of springs with a capacity to jump in every direction. Somewhere along the way, as your pup grows up, their flexibility changes. Being aware of how you can help your dog stay flexible can give them added comfort and mobility through the years.
Dog Aging Myths
Have you always heard that one year of your dog’s life is equal to seven years for a human? In reality, it’s not that cut and dried. Dogs mature faster at first, so their first year is more accurately described as 15 human years. And not every breed is the same. Smaller dogs age more quickly in the first few years of life, with a big pup aging more slowly at first, but hitting middle age by its fifth birthday. All those variants mean your dog’s flexibility should be addressed on an individual basis. Start by understanding an appropriate level of flexibility for your pet—something your vet will be happy to discuss with you.
That never-ending jumping around will eventually give way to a dog that is happy to lay on the couch. If your dog loses interest in activity, you need to be the change agent! First assess your canine’s overall health to make sure there are no physical problems preventing it from proper movement. If everything is fine, make a commitment to keep your pet agile with daily walks and exercise. This strategy will help keep your dog’s muscle tone and balance in good shape. Just like people, canines also benefit from stretching protocols. Talk to your vet about adding stretching to your dog’s routine, which can include passive range-of-motion (PROM) exercises. Vary the exercise for different areas of the body, including those geared to work large muscles like hamstrings and glutes.
Massage and Supplements
Do you enjoy a good massage? So does your pet! A massage can help maintain flexibility and soothe sore muscles and joints. Gentle, slow strokes and stretches go a long way to loosen tight muscles, improve circulation, and encourage lymphatic drainage. Either depend on a professional for massage or learn some simple techniques through videos online.
Another good step to help your pet stay flexible is to use curcumin, the active component in turmeric. Curcumin has been clinically shown to provide a wide-range of joint-friendly activities including acting as an antioxidant and providing anti-inflammatory properties. Because standard curcumin is poorly absorbed, don’t settle for less than a high-absorption supplement that’s combined with a turmeric essential oil containing ar-turmerone. Better yet, choose a supplement that combines this type of curcumin with boswellia—another powerful anti-inflammatory herb. Boswellia has the unique ability to target a pathway that’s a major contributor to joint pain—the 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) pathway. Look for a boswellia extract standardized to provide at least 70 percent boswellic acids, including 10 percent acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid, or AKBA for short.
You have a lot of options to help with your dog’s flexibility at any age. Take the time to explore all the ways you can help ensure your dog can run, jump, and play comfortably for years to come.