Arthritis in Dogs and Cats: What a Pain!

It is estimated that 25-30% of all dogs will suffer the agonizing and crippling pain of arthritis during their lifetime. Large dogs are the most susceptible to arthritis but dogs of any breed, age or size can be victims of this disease. Early signs of arthritis may be first noticed when your dog starts to get up slower from a lying position, however, arthritis may eventually become devastating with your dog becomes unable to rise.

As arthritis progresses there is a steady degeneration of the dog’s joint cartilage. This cartilage is a cushion in the dog’s elbow, knee, ankle, shoulder, or hip. Cartilage gives the dog the mobility to run and play. As this cartilage begins to be rubbed thin, the bones will begin to grind against each other, causing excruciating pain.

Dogs in the earlier stages of arthritis may have mild pain and lose as much as 20% of their joints range of motion. Consequently, they appear stiff when they get up and walk. As their arthritis progresses, as much as 50% of their joint’s range of motion may be lost. Because they are often in severe pain they will be reluctant to move and the less they move the more weight they gain. This added weight puts additional stress on their joints. Lack of movement and reduced exercise results in weaken musculature. Pain, added weight and weakened muscles are all part of a vicious cycle that leads to less and less movement until the pet can no longer get up and must be carried out to go to the bathroom. If the pet is large and can not be easily carried, euthanasia can sadly become the only alternative.

In addition to making walking difficult, severe arthritis often results in personality and behavioral changes. A dog’s pain may cause them to withdraw from the family and seek secluded places. Because rising may be very painful arthritic pets may soil the rug where they lie rather than ask to go out. Because squatting is painful arthritic pets often become constipated. Dogs and cats in pain can become aggressive and ornery and start to bite. Dogs that were once friendly will not want to be touched by anyone including trusted family members.

So what’s the solution? Conventional medicine attempts to solve the problem with laboratory manufactured corticosteroids or non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs. Both these products are usually effective in reducing inflammation and pain but ultimately result in further joint deterioration and can damage other organs such as the stomach, liver, and kidney.

On the other hand the alternative medical approach is to use nutritional joint support substances, weight loss, medicinal herbs, anti- oxidants, mega vitamin and mineral therapy, omega 3 fatty acids, chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, prolotherapy and non embryonal stem cell therapy to reduce pain and inflammation and to support joint health rather than simply removing the symptoms. A special injection I have developed combining nutritionals Adequin and Legend along with B12 and niacin has worked remarkably well at rehabilitating a joints. This approach is much gentler on the body and rarely results in any serious side effects. An injectable Immune modulator has recently been licenced only for horses but m has great potential for reducing the pain of spondylosis in dogs and cats.

Of course it is not necessary to wait until your dog is lame before you take steps to help your pet. Being proactive makes much more sense. Feeding your healthy dog or cat a high quality, free range, meat based diet and supplementing with steamed vegetables, digestive enzymes, and omega 3 fatty acids will go along toward preventing the onset of arthritis.

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