What is Arthritis in Dogs?
There are two particular types of arthritis that affect pets. Osteoarthritis is chronic degenerative joint disease. It is the cumulative effect of long term wear and tear on the joint structures, where the net effect of daily damage versus daily homoeostatic repair results in subtle long term degeneration. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease (pretty rare in dogs), where the body produces autoreactive antibodies that attack the joint structures and results in chronic long term inflammatory joint disease. The net result of rheumatoid arthritis is a similar pattern of chronic degenerative joint disease, but the degeneration can occur much faster and be more severe.
Natural Treatment Recommendations for Arthritis
Having treated literally thousands of animals for arthritis, using most, if not all, known treatments, I have developed a system that caters for all types of animals, and all types of arthritis.
Natural Treatment for Growth Disorders
Both hip dysplasia and elbow OCD (osteochondritis dessicans) are developmental abnormalities, and are generally seen in growing pups between 6-12 months old. As long as the condition is diagnosed early, I have found the combination of cartilage powder (glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate) and vitamin C supplements to work highly effectively, and can remove the need for expensive surgery. Our Joint Support powder provides naturally high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which stimulate and accelerate natural repair in the joint, and provide some natural pain relief. Joint Support is also available in a chewable for, Health Chews Joint Support. Vitamin C accelerates collagen repair to damaged tendons, ligaments and joint capsule. It is important to note here that the cartilage powder should not be used in any dogs under 4 months old, and in fast growing large/giant breed pups, it is best to check with your vet to see if their growth plates are still active. If the dogs are still actively growing, it may be safer to use a lower dose. Joint Support products can be safely used in conjunction with Cartrophen or Pentosan injections.
Holistic approach to Early Onset Arthritis
This occurs in many large breed dogs at age 5-6 +, or in dogs with a history of joint injuries, or with milder versions of the early growth disorders mentioned above. It can also occur in dogs on a poor diet, overweight dogs, or in highly active or working breeds. Combined with a change to healthy raw food diet like RAW76 Joint Health, the combination of cartilage powder and vitamin C in Joint Support products again works very well here. If a specific joint or leg is affected in isolation, I will also use acupuncture to stimulate healing.
Mature Age Arthritis
This is the more traditional arthritis that affects most pets in the latter years of life. Here, diet change and weight loss are often important factors. As a general rule, dogs at this age are often starting to show signs of nutritional deficiency, which accompanies most degenerative changes. Often the bones have become more brittle (osteoporosis), and the arthritic changes are more advanced. Here I prefer to use my Joint Support powder or chews. Which have the benefits of the glucosamine chondroitin sulphate, and vitamin C, but also has Flax Seed and fish oil (Omega 3), and Ginger (anti inflammatory), Dolomite (calcium and magnesium), Copper and Sulphur (mineral supplements), and Boron (mineralisation of bone). It provides ingredients for joint repair and corrects the nutritional deficiencies (micro malnutrition) that cause accelerated degeneration. I have also found that using magnetic collars can be quite effective, especially in conjunction with our Joint Support products.
In very old dogs, or in refractory cases, I will also use a traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, like Metacam, but I keep this until the very end, when the dog is no longer very active, and unlikely to do any further damage to the joints. These drugs can be used on a daily basis (with food), or used only on days when the dog is noticeably lame. Chiropractic manipulation can be very beneficial in older dogs, but I prefer to take an xray first, before suggesting this type of treatment. Acupuncture can also be very effective to control pain and lameness in older pets if the Joint Support regime alone is not enough.
Supporting Joint Injuries
Joint tears, subluxations, dislocations etc often need immediate veterinary care. Once the joint has been stabilised, a combination of rest, cartilage powder, vitamin C and weekly acupuncture is the best treatment. This can also work very well for mild/partial cruciate ligament injuries. A joint injury can often result in arthritis in later life, so it is worth treating them at the time, for at least 3-6 months on cartilage powder.
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.
Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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