Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis is thought to affect one in every four dogs.
Arthritis in dogs is one of the most common health problems seen by vets and unfortunately is rarely noticed in the early stages because these animals tend to ignore soreness and discomfort until the arthritic changes in the joints have progressed significantly.
What is Arthritis? Arthritis is caused by abnormalities of the joints in the body and where significant structural changes have occurred. Some of the more common causes of arthritis, which is basically inflammation of a joint, are misalignment of joint structures, poor diet and nutrition, accident or infection to the joints, torn ligaments and tendons, genetic malformation of the bone structure, plus overweight puppies during the growth stages and also auto-immune problems.
Arthritis can ultimately result in joints that simply don't work properly. Since there are no blood vessels or sensory nerves in joint cartilage, damage to cartilage can be quite advanced before the surrounding supportive tissues become inflamed and sore.
Symptoms: These include stiffness, reluctance to move, limping, difficulty in getting comfortable shown by repeatedly circling before lying down, sensitive to touch, difficulty going up or down stairs.
Treatment: Unfortunately, since we cannot remodel the joint without surgical intervention, treatment is aimed at reducing the inflammation at the nerve endings so that the dog is at least comfortable even if the range of motion may be compromised. Because there is no "cure" for arthritis, management is the key to treating this condition. The time to address potential abnormal joint changes is before these stresses impact the joint conformation.
There are effective medications such as the steroids Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and other corticosteroids which will markedly reduce swelling and inflammation to affected joints, but the downside to using steroids long term is that they can actually contribute to additional joint damage and breakdown plus there are definite side effects with many of these drugs. Rimadyl a drug that is frequently prescribed can have some frightening side effects.
Recent widespread availability of herbal products such as Devil's Claw, Meadowsweet, White willow bark, Omega Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, and Selenium which all assist in decreasing inflammation, have proven to be significant contributors to easing the discomfort of arthritis in animals. Although supplements will not reverse structural changes in a joint, such as torn cartilage, calcium deposits and advanced scar tissue, they can reduce pain and inflammation of the joints, and help improve the health of surrounding soft tissue.
Herbs not only contain natural pain relieving properties but assist by cleansing the toxins from the body. Devils Claw has proven to be highly effective in studies for its anti-inflammatory nature and White Willow bark and Meadowsweet are both considered natural aspirin providing general pain relief. With arthritis it is also important to reduce the acidity in the body. This can be helped with Meadowsweet, which is said to neutralize the acid in the stomach.
MSM is a powerful arthritis fighter
Alfalfa Powder added daily to you pets diet also alleviates the pain.