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Natural Treatments for Managing Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, is a prevalent condition among dogs, stemming from injuries, developmental issues, or simply the effects of aging. This discomforting ailment involves abnormal changes in the joints, leading to chronic inflammation and varying degrees of pain. Given the worsening nature of arthritis over time, addressing it becomes imperative for pet owners.

Veterinarians typically prescribe pain relief medications and recommend arthritis management strategies as part of the treatment plan. These may also include dietary adjustments aimed at easing arthritis symptoms in dogs. However, for those seeking alternatives to prescription drugs, there exist natural treatments that can aid in managing arthritis pain in canines.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Arthritis?

Detecting arthritis in dogs can vary based on several factors. Dr. Clay Bernard, TCVM, from Even Flow Veterinary and Acupuncture in Austin, Texas, explains that recognizing arthritis depends on factors such as the dog’s size, age, the duration of the condition, pain tolerance, immune system, and activity level.

Dr. Bernard mentions that signs of arthritis in dogs may include limping, difficulty rising after resting, reduced willingness to take long walks, reluctance to jump on or off furniture, and hesitance to climb stairs or engage in activities like playing fetch in the backyard.

Dr. Jennifer Luna-Repose of Alternatives For Animals in Lafayette, California, highlights that some signs of arthritis in dogs may not be as obvious. These subtler indicators could include increased sleeping, weight gain, muscle loss, depression, or decreased appetite.

Moreover, dogs with arthritis might react differently to changes in temperature, and pet owners may observe shifts in their temperament, especially when sensitive areas are touched. Should pet owners suspect arthritis in their dogs, seeking a veterinarian’s advice is crucial. As Luna-Repose notes, even apparent signs of arthritis could be attributed to other medical conditions. Therefore, the diagnosis of arthritis should always be confirmed by a veterinarian.

Natural Treatments for Arthritis Pain in Dogs: Exploring Your Options

Considering your veterinarian’s expertise is paramount, it’s worth noting that some pain medications prescribed for dogs with arthritis may have adverse effects. Dr. Darla Rewers, DVM, from the Ancient Arts Holistic Veterinary Team, points out that arthritis medications can potentially harm a dog’s internal organs.

“Dogs on arthritis pain medications often require routine blood tests to monitor liver and kidney function. NSAIDs and steroids can also lead to stomach ulcers,” she emphasizes. For pet owners concerned about these risks, exploring natural treatments may offer an alternative approach.

Natural Herbs and Supplements to Help Arthritis in Dogs

Different dogs require different natural arthritis remedies, and there exists a variety of alternative medications and supplements for canine arthritis. Prior to administering herbs or supplements to their pets, pet owners are advised to seek guidance from a holistic veterinarian or one trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine.

Several notable Chinese herbal formulas used to alleviate arthritis in dogs include Ligusticum, known for its natural pain-relieving properties, Corydalis, which eases aches and discomfort, and Hindquarter Weakness, an herbal blend that fortifies a dog’s hind legs.

Dr. Bernard highlights the efficacy of ancient Indian herbs like turmeric and boswellia as potent anti-inflammatories. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids present in krill, sardine, or flaxseed oils exhibit similar properties. Supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM can also aid in preserving and nourishing damaged cartilage in affected joints.

As a proactive measure against arthritis in dogs, Dr. Luna-Repose suggests incorporating bone broth into their diet as an affordable means to bolster cartilage and safeguard joint health.

Acupuncture for Arthritis: Potential Benefits for Dogs

Dr. Luna-Repose also suggests that dog owners explore veterinary acupuncture as a potential solution for naturally alleviating arthritis pain in their pets. “It functions by stimulating nerves, enhancing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, and triggering the release of hormones such as endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals, and cortisol, a natural steroid,” she explains. Moreover, the process is typically painless for dogs.

According to Dr. Bernard, dogs undergoing acupuncture sessions to alleviate arthritis discomfort will begin to experience benefits after several visits. “The effects gradually extend, and the body attains equilibrium,” he remarks.

Other Natural Options for Managing Arthritis Pain in Dogs

Apart from natural herbs, supplements, and acupuncture treatments, some veterinarians suggest employing low-level laser therapy to aid in managing arthritis pain in dogs. According to Luna-Repose, this procedure utilizes specific light wavelengths to induce therapeutic effects such as improved wound healing, pain reduction, enhanced circulation, and reduced swelling.

Luna-Repose also mentions the FDA-cleared Assisi Loop, which employs targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (tPEMT) and can be utilized at home by pet owners with a prescription. This device aids the body’s natural anti-inflammatory process by increasing nitric oxide production, thereby expediting the healing of soft and hard tissues like skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, and organs.

Other complementary treatments commonly recommended for dogs with arthritis include TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) and extracorporeal shock wave therapy. Additionally, options like canine massage or aquatic therapy may help alleviate arthritis pain. Pet owners can seek professional canine massage therapists or learn massage techniques to practice at home. According to Luna-Repose, massage therapy can enhance circulation, mitigate stress effects, stimulate endorphin release, and alleviate trigger points in dogs. Moreover, the weightless environment of water can aid arthritic dogs in staying active and building muscle through activities like swimming or using an underwater treadmill.

The Importance of Diet and Weight Management for Arthritic Dogs

Maintaining a healthy diet and managing weight are crucial aspects in the care of arthritic dogs, particularly given the common association between dog obesity and arthritis.

“I always advocate for fresh, species-specific food for my patients, such as raw or home-cooked diets,” emphasizes Bernard. “Probiotics are essential as inflammation often originates from how well the gut bacteria process food.” However, pet owners should seek advice from their veterinarians before transitioning their dogs to a raw or home-cooked diet, as these diets may be contaminated with bacteria or lack complete nutrition.

Ensuring that your dog remains as active as possible is also vital in weight management, which is a key element in arthritis pain management for dogs. “Excess body weight exerts more pressure on the joints,” explains Rewers. Even if mobility is challenging for your dog, incorporating short, regular walks or engaging in indoor games like hide-and-seek can help keep them active.

Pet parents considering natural arthritis treatments involving dietary or lifestyle modifications should always consult a trusted veterinarian to devise the most effective plan for pain management and treatment for their dogs.

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