This inflammation condition is just as common in dogs as it is in us, with roughly 1 in 5 succumbing to the accompanying pain and discomfort. But as with humans, we can treat the symptoms to ease the suffering and in the same way, it might not be necessary to resort to pharmaceutical drugs when there are more natural ways to overcome the problem.
can result from aging and every day wear and tear. Pets can be affected because of an hereditary condition such as dysplasia or an abnormal growth and malformation of the hips or elbows. Arthritis can also follow an injury such as a broken pelvic bone, a fracture involving a joint or a damaged cruciate ligament in the knee.
I have written posts directed at our pets before – one about pets and vaccines
and another on how to keep neighboring cats
out of our gardens in a kind way. But this one is on arthritis in dogs and if you suspect your dog has arthritis or has already been diagnosed, I am including top ten tips to help.
Some signs and symptoms that indicate presence of arthritis
- Spending more time than usual sleeping and finding it difficult to get up quickly after a night's sleep with signs of stiffness or soreness in the joints.
- Chewing or licking at those joints.
- Showing hesitation before starting to jump, run or climb stairs.
- Having put on excess weight.
- Decreasing activity with less interest in play or walks, or changing attitude or behavior.
- Favoring one limb over another or yelping in pain.
- Having difficulty in sitting or standing.
- Being less alert.
A visit to the veterinarian will usually be able to confirm the presence of arthritis but also be aware that sometimes a misaligned joint in the hip, spine or elsewhere could be the cause of similar symptoms. If the latter and your veterinarian cannot help with re-alignment, look for a chiropractor who treats dogs, or a naturopath veterinarian, so that either of them could check out and perhaps resolve such a problem.
What to do for your dog if he has arthritis?
Your veterinarian will often recommend a medical management program traditionally consisting of two types of drugs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are referred to as NSAIDs along with steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While both classes of drugs are generally effective to relieve pain, they can carry serious side effects. Steroids are usually considered a last resort in most cases.
The natural alternatives
1. Lose any excess weight
by improving your dog's diet and increasing exercise without putting extra strain on your dog's joints. Moderate exercise is good for dogs with arthritis, as long as you don't overdo it as tired muscles can make for lax joints. Keeping dogs with arthritis lean is one of the best things you can do to help them. Just as with us, swimmin
g is an excellent form of low impact exercise for dogs while massage, gentle flexion and extension of joints are also very beneficial.
2. Add Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements
to help decrease inflammation and improve your dog'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. One suggestion is Arthroplex (which includes bromelain and boswellia). Giving such supplements at a different time to meals may make them more effective.
3. A daily dose of powdered Vitamin C
such as sodium ascorbate popped into your dog's meal helps to keep the tissue healthy while protecting against further joint deterioration. A suitable dosage is 500 to 1000 mg (small dogs); 1000 to 2000 mg (medium to large); 2000 to 4000 mg (extra large to giant dogs). Always start with the lowest dose, gradually increasing once or twice a year. Should your dog have loose stools, cut back the dose before slowly increasing again.
4. One half to 2 grams of alfalfa tablets
(depending on the size of your dog) crunched up in your dog's meal twice a day will assist with natural joint lubrication.
5. Adding organic apple cider vinegar
to your dog's drinking water is another natural remedy for joint inflammation issues, starting with a very small amount and increasing slowly. Organic apple cider vinegar is very safe but it can take your dog a little while to get used to the taste.
6. Fish oil supplements
are another way to reduce pain and joint inflammation in arthritis in dogs and Omega 3 fatty acids have become a favorite with veterinarians for other conditions as well as arthritis.
7. Look at improving the quality of food
that you give to your dog. Supermarket tins and dry food are not ideal and specialist food from veterinarians can be expensive. Many will advocate a raw diet – such as including a raw free range egg and raw meat – while others will give good quality home cooked meals. A grain-free diet is best as grains tend to increase inflammation and aggravate the arthritis. Many dogs with arthritis will improve when grains are removed and remember that most commercial dog dry foods are high in grains. Just as with humans, avoid all processed foods and remember that any vegetables from the nightshade family can worsen an arthritic condition. These include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to your pet’s food or cook your pet’s meals in olive oil to smell good and add taste and flavor while being another good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
8. It is important that dogs with arthritis get adequate calcium, vitamin D and magnesium
if you are feeding a home made diet. You can supplement with small amounts of vitamin D (such as from cod liver oil) and magnesium while if the diet does not include raw meaty bones, you should add calcium at the rate of around 1000 mg per pound of food – for example 1/2 teaspoon of ground eggshell will give you this amount.
9. Pain may be part of the arthritis problem and DLPA
is a nutritional supplement that helps with chronic pain that appears to be very safe. It is best to administer at a different time to food, but can be given with meals if needed.
10. For smaller dogs, there is a product called Curcumin Plus
to alleviate pain and discomfort. It is made up of a mixture of curcumin , boswellia and DLPA mentioned above. Of course curcumin (also called turmeric) and boswellia have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
With some extra TLC and attention, you can improve the quality of life for your dog, remembering to make sure he has a bed that he can get in and out of easily while keeping your home warm and dry, as cold and humidity can aggravate symptoms.