How dogs’ joints are put together
The same goes for both people and for dogs: healthy joints are essential for mobility. If their function is limited, there are far-reaching consequences that can cause lasting damage.
You will learn in this article how joints are put together, as well as the individual components that they consist of. In addition, you will also learn how to prevent joint conditions and how existing complaints can be helped to heal much more effectively.
Construction of the joints
The construction of the joints varies, depending on the precise joint in question. However, the main, fundamental components are always the same.
Every joint consists of:
- Condyle and socket
- Articular cartilage
- Synovial fluid
- Joint capsule
The terms “condyle” and “socket” refer to the ends of the two bones that meet at the joint. Each of these bones is covered in a layer of articular cartilage, while the synovial fluid is also found between the cartilage layers. In turn, the joint capsule surrounds the entire joint, and the ligaments allow for mobility within a defined radius an work with the muscle tissues to ensure strength and stability.
Role and composition of articular cartilage
Articular cartilage consists mainly of what is referred to as an extracellular matrix, which contains the cartilage cells, and which in turn produce collagen, hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycan and chondroitin sulphate. These substances are further required to create the extracellular matrix.
The role of the articular cartilage consists of creating a smooth surface and minimizing friction in the joints. As the cartilage is significantly more elastic than the bones, it also serves as a shock absorber, absorbing forces that may arise when running or jumping.
Structure and composition of synovial fluid
Synovial fluid, also called synovia or joint lubricant, consists mainly of hyaluronic acid, glucose, and water. Synovial fluid also helps to absorb shocks, while it is also responsible for preventing cartilage coming into direct contact with other cartilage to reduce friction still further.
A joint without adequate quantities of synovial fluid can be compared to a car that is driven without any oil in the engine. There is a lack of lubrication, so that individual components (in this case, the cartilage and bones) wear out very quickly due to friction.
Healthy joints don’t always come naturally
It is necessary for the substances contained in both synovial fluid and cartilage to undergo a process of constant renewal. Ideally, this would all work without any problems.
Nonetheless, this ability declines with age, which can lead to a variety of problems and illnesses over time.
There are also other factors to take into account, such as excessive exertion or strains, poor diet, and excess weight. These also represent a risk to joint health, while some joint conditions can also be more likely to occur in certain individuals due to hereditary conditions.
As well as acute conditions such as arthritis, chronic joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia are also common. If left untreated, illnesses of this kind will lead to increasingly restricted movement and, under certain circumstances, can cause paralysis in the affected joints.
Joint diseases often result in a long suffering
Unfortunately, many dog owners know first hand what consequences sick joints can have for affected dogs. Particularly with chronic complaints, the four-legged friend often expects a long and painful ordeal, in the course of which the functionality of the joints is increasingly reduced and the quality of life of the dog is increasingly restricted.
It is not always possible to treat the complaints successfully, so that the veterinarian's therapeutic measures are partly limited to alleviating the symptoms and only an attempt is made to prevent further damage to the dog's joints.
Food supplements for the joints of the dog
More and more owners are turning to special dietary supplements for dogs to support the veterinary care of joints with certain ingredients.
Such preparations contain, for example, substances such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine or chondroitin sulphate, which play a role in the elasticity of the joint cartilage and the synovial fluid.
Depending on the product, these can be administered to the dog either individually or as a combination of different ingredients.