Arthritis in dogs is an all too common ailment. Many pet parents have resigned themselves to the fact that arthritis, and its debilitating impact, are just part of a dog’s life. While there are some forms of arthritis that have no cure (DJD), all arthritis can be treated – and these treatments can dramatically improve your dog’s mobility and quality of life.
1. A Look at Lifestyle
If your dog is overweight, it’s time to take a good look at diet. Many foods can be high in calories and full of ingredients that feed the inflammation in your dog’s joints (like potatoes and certain fats or sugars). But just as diet can worsen your dog’s symptoms, it can also improve his overall condition. Certain fruits and vegetables, like blueberries and kale, are full of nutrients and vitamins that will help promote joint health.
Dietary analysis can be an incredibly helpful, (though often overlooked), step towards treating your dog’s arthritis. Another is exercise.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, a good exercise routine can actually help your arthritic dog. A short walk once or twice a day can improve your dog’s mobility and mental attitude. It’s important to be observant during these mild exercises – extra limping or a change in mood may mean you need to modify your routine. Swimming is also beneficial. If possible, this exercise is both fun (for most dogs) and extra gentle on sore joints.
On top of lifestyle changes, I encourage dog owners to really explore the natural pet supplements out there. However, amid the endless barrage of miracle medicines, there are some supplements worth their salt. Keep in mind – just as with people, not all dogs will respond to supplements in the same way. Do your research and see what supplement, or combination of supplements, works best for your pup.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate: These nutrients are thought to help cartilage repair itself (or at least, slow the degeneration of the joint). More than half of arthritic dogs seem to enjoy better mobility and less pain when they take these supplements. A generally accepted dosage is 20mg of glucosamine per pound of bodyweight per day and 16mg per pound of chondroitin sulfate.
Nzymes Antioxidant Treats: These supplements work at the cellular level to produce antioxidant enzymes (enzymes that help eliminate the build-up of damaging free radicals in the body). Not only is this helpful in addressing inflammation in the joints, it is especially effective in renewing synovial fluid (the lubricating fluid in joints that helps movement and keeps bones from rubbing together). A commonly asked question is whether the antioxidant treats and glucosamine/chondroitin can be used in tandem. The answer is Yes – in fact, these two supplements can complement each other concerning your dog’s arthritis without overlapping.
Gelatin: Some studies suggest that gelatin has the ability to relieve joint pain and help repair and rebuild cartilage. While many companies offer gelatin tablets for dogs, you can also make your own tasty treats. Another supplement thought to improve joint health and function is bone broth because of the amazing amounts of glucosamine it contains, as well as chondroitin and hyaluronic acid.
3. Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic adjustments help to increase ease of movement so a dog doesn’t try to compensate for the pain by walking off-balance, which can create other joint and inflammation problems. Chiropractic care focuses on diagnosing, treating and preventing nerve stress, paying special attention to the spine. This form of treatment also works very well in conjunction with supplemental care.
Who knew there are vets that are actually trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine – or TCVM. I had no idea until doing some research. If this is news to you too, you may be just as surprised by the benefits this treatment can offer: it improves blood flow, increases the release of natural pain-killers and anti-inflammatory hormones in the body, relaxes muscles and has no side-effects. Curious to know more? Check out this short article and video.
5. Physical Therapy
Massage therapy, water therapy and thermal treatments are just a few at-home exercises that can help mobility and alleviate pain for an arthritic dog. Your vet may be able to suggest a canine therapist or provide a few practices to get you started. Many pet parents not only notice a change in their dog’s movement, but a change in mood as well. Seems dogs enjoy a good massage as well.
These are some of the ways in which you can treat your dog’s arthritis without having to resort to medications. Because of the inflammation, it is not unusual for vets to prescribe NSAIDs like carprofen or others for arthritis in dogs. The problem with these treatments are the side effects. While these drugs can and do reduce inflammation around the joints, the are also known for their potential to cause liver and kidney damage and immune deficiencies. Be very careful in choosing which drug to give your dog for arthritis. Do all your research.
As an end note – never underestimate what a little extra attention and TLC can do for your dog. I’m not sure our furry friends feel any differently than we do about the aches and pains that creep in with age or injury and I believe love and kindness are universally valued by all living things. No doubt, arthritis can be a discouraging challenge to dogs and their people – but it’s by no means the end of the road. Let’s remember to help them keep a good attitude – let’s practice positivity and be proactive – it may just improve our quality of life as well!
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