Arthritis in dogs

Copyright (c) 2008 The Naturally Healthy

Arthritis is a common problem in dogs. It is recognised by symptoms such as the pet going stiff-legged after exercise, showing reluctance in going up or down the stairs or playing, and finding it uncomfortable to wake up in the morning. Before the problem gets out of hand and has a crippling effect on the life of the dog and that of the dog owner, it is important to take proper care of the dog and consult the vet for a thorough diagnosis, if required.

Let’s begin by knowing what arthritis is. Arthritis is a condition involving the joints. There are two types of arthritis: Degenerative arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. In the former, the cartilage that protects the bones making the joint wither away due to various factors like overuse from strenuous activities, aging, accidents and other bodily deficiencies. This type of arthritis is also known as osteoarthritis.

Inflammatory arthritis involves inflammation of joints arising mostly from infections due to systemic deficiencies in the dog. Both the forms of arthritis in dogs are accompanied by pain and discomfort in moving the limbs.

There are two approaches to treating arthritis in dogs. However, before beginning any treatment with medicines, it is essential to have a thorough diagnostic assessment done to find out the nature and extent of joint damage and cause of pain.

The first approach involves regulating the diet. If the dog is overweight, the extra weight may be putting more stress on the joints than it can handle. So, weight reduction is an important component of any treatment plan. The dog should be put on a balanced and nutritious diet rich in proteins, minerals and fiber. It should drink plenty of fluids to flush out toxins from the body. Try to avoid dry dog food which contains grains that perpetuates inflammation and may aggravate arthritis pain. Instead, the dog can be given homemade food containing celery, other fresh vegetables such as cucumber, carrot, lettuce and sometimes garlic which has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties.

The second approach involves giving the dog supplements that reduce arthritis swelling and pain, such as Glucosamine, dietary sulphur sources like Methylsulphonylmethane (MSM), and Omerga-3 fatty acids found abundantly in fish. Side by side, the dog should be given massage of the sore muscles and joints and kept off from damp environs.

If these natural therapies do not work, the dog may require an examination by the vet who can recommend pain killers and other therapeutic procedures to provide relief from arthritis pain and other symptoms.