What is Arthritis? In simple terms, arthritis is the joint disease that is characterized by the inflammation of the joints. The four primary types of arthritis are: Degenerative, Inflammatory, Infectious, and Metabolic Arthritis. Canine Arthritis used to be an illness associated with older dogs, but this is no longer the case as younger dogs are being diagnosed with this disease every day.
Depending on what type of Arthritis your dog has, it may be a long road to recovery or a quick restoration to former health. In cases involving Infectious Arthritis, if the infection is caught early and treated before much damage is done to the cartilage at the site of the affected joint, your dog can make a full recovery.
Once the cartilage has been damaged, the only options left are the management of pain and treatment to stop the further degradation of affected joints. This is the case for most dogs as they usually do not show many early signs of arthritis until a lot of cartilage damage has been done. Most times, behavioral changes, slight limps/stiffness and on rare occasions (usually at the later stages) severe pain / swelling at the site of the joint disease are the only early warning signs.
The only definite way to check if your dog is suffering from Arthritis is by having an X-ray test done. After your dog has been diagnosed with Arthritis, an array of medications is usually prescribed to help stop further degeneration of cartilage and for the management of pain. There are a number natural remedies available that can be used alone or combined with a reduced dosage of medication to treat canine Arthritis.
Natural Remedies for pain management and joint/cartilage treatments
Before you begin any of the treatments below, you must first adopt a few lifestyle changes in order to obtain significant results. After all of these changes have been made, you will see significant results when added to remedies below:
Overeating: Overeating will no longer be allowed as this leads to weight gain, thus increasing the strain on the affected joints. Most vets would recommend keeping your pet lean to reduce the burden on affected joints.
Type of Exercise: Multiple short jogs and walks should replace the usual vigorous runs. Note, it is important that you continue to exercise your dogs to increase flexibility in the muscle, thereby reducing joint strain.
Hydrotherapy (swimming/exercising in a pool) is another option if your dog is experiencing severe pain during exercise. This way your dog can slowly rebuild muscle flexibility without the added strain to the joint and also give affected joint time to heal (or for inflammation to lessen). Invest in a ramp to help your dog if he is having difficulties getting into the car or climbing stairs. Avoid repetitive actions or activities with your dog as you do not want the joints grinding on each other and exacerbating the inflammation. Include a slip free zone (an area with a rug or carpet) to aid your dog when he sits or stands and purchase a comfortable dog bed to reduce the morning stiffness.
Acupuncture/massage therapy: Acupuncture has been shown to relieve inflammation and pain in humans suffering from Arthritis. The same is also true of animals, it improves circulation in the muscle and joints. This improved circulation provides more oxygen to cells in the muscles and joint capsules, thereby slowing down the degradation of cells. Massage therapy in the affected areas also works to improve circulation and relieve painful muscle spasms. It should also be noted that no immediate results would be seen as it takes weeks of accumulated session for effects to be noticed. Cellular recovery does not happen in an hour, hence a little bit of time is required before any significant improvement is seen.
Warm and cold compress: Warm packs can be used to reduce pain, relax muscles and improve blood circulation to affected joints. When the blood circulation is improved, the cells get more nutrients and oxygen. Thus, this aids in the cellular recovery and repair process. Use a warm compress on your dog before walks to loosen up the joints and muscles around the affected area. In the same sense, cold compress can also be used to relieve pain, numb inflamed joints, alleviate arthritis muscle spasms and most importantly reduce swelling. The cold and warm compress should be used alternatingly, cold to reduce swelling followed by warm to improve blood circulation.
Chinese herbs: Chinese herbs have been shown to be very helpful in the treatment of arthritis. You should visit a veterinarian with Chinese herb training to recommend the herbal treatment regimen best for your dogs’ breed and age. Some of the more popular Chinese herbs used to treat Arthritis are: frankincense, licorice, cinnamon, mulberry twig, and gentiana.
Diet: Raw or home prepared food has been shown to have the most benefits as most dog food brands add fillers (wheat and grains) that exacerbate arthritis inflammation in dogs. Most pet owners are not comfortable feeding their dogs raw food and do not have the time to prepare homemade meals for their dogs. Hence, the need to pay close attention to the ingredient and brand is imperative. Brands that contain ingredients that fall under the nightshade foods group (eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes) should be avoided as they exacerbate arthritis symptoms in dogs. You should choose mostly high quality organic brands that contain only free-range meats in their ingredients. Fruits and vegetable with deep color have been shown to alleviate symptoms has they are packed with phytonutrients and vitamins. Finally, the addition of the bone broth in their dog’s diet will improve his cartilage, bone and also protect his joint.
Antioxidants /Omega 3 fatty acids: Antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and are effective in treating your dog’s arthritis. Omega 3 fatty acids also lubricate the joints, hence reducing the occurrence of joint inflammations in your pets. While the addition of nutritional supplements that contain both enzymes and antioxidants have been shown to improve blood circulation and support the immune system.
1)Straus Mary “Natural Dog Arthritis Treatments”,https://www.whole-dog journal.com/issues/10_3/features/Canine-Arthritis_15910-1.html, April 19, 2018
2) William G. Marshall,1 Herman A. W. Hazewinkel,2 Dermot Mullen,3 Geert De Meyer,4 Katrien Baert,4 and Stuart Carmichael1"The effect of weight loss on lameness in obese dogs with osteoarthritis "Published online 2010 Mar 17. doi: [10.1007/s11259-010-9348-7] Vet Res Commun. 2010 Mar; 34(3): 241–253.
3)Budsberg SC1, Bartges JW."Nutrition and osteoarthritis in dogs: does it help?"Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2006 Nov;36(6):1307-23, vii.