Editor’s Note: Remember to consult your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle.
Arthritis, Painful Joint Disease
Arthritis is an acutely debilitating disease in humans, equally so for dogs. There are, however, ways of managing the disease to provide your dog arthritis pain relief.
Dogs are typically active animals. Bone, cartilage, and muscle damage happens all the time, which was thought to be the root cause of canine arthritis, but low-grade inflammation of the joints is now recognized as the most likely cause. Ultimately, the culprit is the dog’s immune system, which releases proteins that can damage cartilage and diminish the lubrication around them, making the bone surfaces rub against one another. Older dogs are affected most often, but younger ones aren’t always immune.
How Do You Recognize Arthritis in Dogs?
Is your dog less keen to exercise, or does your dog appear lame, stiff, reluctant to climb stairs, slow to move, and/or grumpier than normal? If the answer is yes, then there’s a chance she may have arthritis. However, don’t panic. There are a few ways you may be able to help your pet get some arthritis pain relief.
1. Start your dog on an appropriate diet.
Dogs with arthritis tend to gain weight due to a decrease in exercise, which in turn aggravates the condition. Start your dog on a lean-but-nutritious diet to help with weight management. Consider a stew of meats, rice, lentils, barley, and yellow and green and leafy vegetables. Put in some celery and parsley as well. These ingredients are alkaline in nature and your dog will likely love them. When consulting your vet before adding these ingredients to your dog’s diet, you may also want to ask about adding supplements like glucosamine, which is known to help ease joint inflammation.
2. Start your dog on NSAIDs
These are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They can help reduce stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints. But don’t just use human NSAIDs. There are animal NSAIDs that your vet can prescribe, including:
- Carprofen (Rimadyl)
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
- Previcox (Firocoxib)
- Metacam (Meloxicam)
NSAIDs can cause a reaction in your dog, so if you notice moodiness, appetite loss, loose stools, or skin itchiness, suspend the medication and consult your vet.
3. Keep your dog mobile and warm
Though arthritis makes dogs hate movement, it is essential that they exercise and move, otherwise joint degeneration worsens, along with muscle atrophy. Soft exercises like swimming can keep your dog’s muscles and joints relatively healthy and free from stiffness. You can also get clothes to keep her warm. Also, consider providing her with a soft a bed or letting her join you on the sofa. A pet ramp is also a good idea to allow your dog to move about her favourite areas without strain. You can also ease her pain with gentle massages on her joints—she’ll love it.
Studies have shown that supplements for joints can promote healthy cartilage and joint health. They can contain varying amounts of joint health helping compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin and other chondroprotective substances, MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, green-lipped mussels, etc. Of course, you’ll need to consult your vet about which supplements to give your dog.
5. Natural remedies
Among many natural remedies, turmeric is one excellent option for arthritis pain relief in dogs. The principal ingredient, curcumin, is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiseptic, which makes it the perfect natural alternative to NSAIDs and pain relievers like ibuprofen, sans the unpleasant side effects. You can add a teaspoon of turmeric to your dog’s food, combining it with oil like coconut oil for better absorption.
Kathreen Miller is a pet health expert at Petbounce. She lives in Chicago with her daughter and a dog named “Buddy.” She regularly contributes her write ups to pet health related websites and blogs. In her free time, she loves listening to music, watching TV, and travelling.