When your fun-loving golden retriever has hip pain, he hurts all over -- because virtually every movement depends on strength and flexibility in his hips. Relief for his hip pain may be at your fingertips.
Under that golden coat, your dog is likely packing extra pounds that add stress to hip joints and muscles, increasing the pain and further damaging his hips. Run your fingers along his sides with minimal pressure. If you cannot feel his ribs for the fat, cut his caloric intake. You can keep using a quality food that your dog likes and your vet approves, but reduce the daily ration. Feed him smaller meals more often and add a dollop of canned pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, as a topper. The pumpkin fiber is good for his tummy without adding fat. For treats, offer a kibble bite or a veggie treat such as a green bean or a carrot slice, either raw or steamed in chicken broth. As the weight comes off, the hip pain will decrease if extra weight is the only issue.
When your golden retriever’s hip pain interferes with walking, sleeping and doggie business, pain management becomes critical. If the pain is not controlled, your dog avoids getting up and moving around. The hips and joints stiffen, deteriorating and causing more pain. During a vet visit, the examination helps determine treatment based on your dog, its age and the hip problem. A young golden with hip dysplasia may benefit from surgery. Older dogs or dogs with other ailments may need rest, painkillers and weight management. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ease inflammation and curb pain for short-term needs such as post-surgery care or hip strain, as well as provide long-term relief for arthritis and other diseases.
Chronic hip pain often responds to nutrient supplements that contain chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and methylsulfonylmethane. Available over the counter, these supplements reduce joint pain and inflammation over time, usually showing results in a month. Essential fatty acids, commonly found in fish oils, vegetable oils and flaxseed, can relieve pain by reducing joint inflammation. Another nutraceutical, green-lipped mussel, contains chondroitin sulfates, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 aiding in hip pain relief. Nutraceuticals take longer to work but they're an alternative to NSAIDs. Consult your vet because nutrients can react with medications and may not be suitable for your dog’s condition.
Get out the leash. Your dog’s days of jumping hurdles, racing over rough ground and climbing stair flights are on hold. Hip damage and pain are aggravated by hard running and jolting stops. Your vet may recommend crate rest for an injury or hip surgery, then regular walks. And by walks, he means a leash-controlled stroll that lubricates the hip joints, warms the hip muscles and keeps the cartilage moving smoothly. For degenerative hips or osteoarthritis, regular casual walks are good but ball-chasing is bad. Swimming is another good exercise for hip pain. The water buoyancy takes weight off the hips and supports your dog while encouraging hip movement. The cool water eases inflammation in aching hips. Just don’t go dock-diving.
Pamper your golden retriever with an orthopedic or memory foam dog bed that cushions sore muscles and joints. Gently massage his hips and body, paying special attention to the muscles, as massage improves circulation while relaxing painful hip tension. Keep him indoors in cold weather or in a heated dog house. A dog coat keeps his hips warm during winter walks as cold causes pain in deteriorating joints and atrophied muscles. Feed him in a raised bowl that eases strain on his legs and hips. Acupuncture helps some goldens with hip pain and other ailments.
Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.