Arthritis in Dogs
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Arthritis is as common in dogs as it is in their human owners. If you suspect that your own dog could be suffering from this inflammatory condition, check out these signs and symptoms:
- Is your dog favoring one limb over another?
- Does he have difficulty sitting or standing?
- Is he sleeping more?
- Does he seem to have stiff or sore joints?
- Does he hesitate before starting to jump, run or climb stairs?
- Has there been any weight gain?
- is there a decreased activity or less interest in play?
- Have there been attitude or behavior changes?
- Is he less alert?
Your dog cannot tell you but other clues could be:
- Yelping in pain
- Chewing or licking at joints
- Showing personality changes such as aggression
- Reluctance to walk or play
- Withdrawing from family activities
A misaligned joint in the hip, spine or elsewhere could also be the cause of symptoms similar to those of arthritis. If your veterinarian cannot help, look for a chiropractor who treats dogs, or a naturopath veterinarian, so that either of them could check out any possible problem.
So what should you do for your dog if he has arthritis?
Losing that excess weight should be number one on the list.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements are fast becoming the most widely used supplements in dogs' diets, helping to decrease inflammation and improve the body's ability to repair and strengthen tissues. However, they cannot reverse structural changes in a joint such as torn cartilage, calcium deposits and advanced scar tissue.
Add substantial doses of powdered Vitamin C into your dog's daily meal as this will keep the tissue healthy and protect against further joint deterioration. Small dogs need 500 to 1000 mg, medium to large dogs 1000 to 2000 mg while extra large can accommodate 2000 to 4000 mg. Use a sodium ascorbate or another form of buffered vitamin C, as plain ascorbic acid may cause an upset stomach. Start with the lowest dose and gradually increase once or twice a year. Loose stools could mean the dose is too high so cut back and gradually start increasing again.
Another suggestion is alfalfa tablets crunched up in your dog's meal twice a day to assist with natural joint lubrication. Depending on the size of the dog, give half to 2 grams.
Apple cider vinegar (preferably organic) is another natural remedy for joint inflammation issues. Start with a very small amount using a dropper into your dog's drinking water and increase slowly. While the apple cider vinegar is very safe, it might take your dog some time to acclimatize to the change in taste.
Just as fish oil supplements in humans reduce pain and joint inflammation in arthritis, so they can be helpful for dogs too. Veterinarians have discovered that Omega 3 fatty acids can be invaluable for a variety of conditions such as kidney disease, allergies and skin conditions s well as arthritis.
Avoid everyday pet food and change to more good quality home cooked meals with meat and vegetables but excluding any of the nightshade family such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant which can aggravate an arthritic condition.
The symptoms of arthritis in dogs can appear very gradually so you might not notice to start with but they do get worse over time. Remember that arthritis causes pain. There is no particular breed that will be more affected than another but it is more common in older dogs.