Sunday, August 22, 2010

Treating Canine Arthritis in a Multi-Modal Fashion

By Ruthie Bently

Canine arthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease) generally affects our senior canine companions, though younger dogs can be affected also. Nowadays with the advances of veterinary medicine there are several treatment options: allopathic, homeopathic, alternative medicine and herbal remedies can help alleviate their symptoms and pain. Treating canine arthritis in a multi-modal fashion works well for many dogs, and you may find that more than one treatment will suit your dog’s needs the best.

If you go to a holistic veterinarian, some of the alternative therapies they might suggest include: acupuncture, animal chiropractic, Reiki, laser therapy, massage therapy and natural remedies. See my articles on alternative therapies and laser therapy for more information. Natural remedies work well with most dogs, though you should consult with your vet if you have a special needs dog before proceeding with treatment. Your vet may suggest a combination of natural remedies for better results. You can purchase natural remedies at your local herb, health food store or online herb store.

Perna and Greenlip mussels have been shown to assist in the restoration of connective tissues that have been damaged by canine arthritis. Several herbs have been found to be effective against the effects of canine arthritis. Comfrey given daily has been shown to be effective against arthritis. Many vets and dog owners recommend yucca to ease the pain of arthritis. It contains natural steroids that can relieve arthritis inflammation.

Stinging nettle cleans your dog’s blood and removes toxins that may exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis. It can also be made into a tea for your dog. If you don’t want to go through collecting and processing stinging nettle yourself you can get nettle extract instead. Alfalfa is good for soothing joint swelling too. Your dog’s weight and build will determine the daily dose, which will be between one teaspoon and three tablespoons.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to bond with your dog while helping them deal with the vagaries of canine arthritis. Get an herbal oil suitable for your dog, and if you can’t find one locally then olive or sunflower oil will work too. Rubbing the oil into your dog’s joints can relieve the stiffness and relax their muscles.

A newer drug used in the treatment of canine arthritis is a joint fluid modifier. This is a long term treatment for arthritis and you may want to evaluate all your alternatives before deciding on this. Depending on the severity of the pain, your vet may suggest a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These reduce inflammation, provide pain relief and while not curing it can slow down the disease. Dosage should be determined by your vet and monitored by you for possible side effects. You should also observe your pet closely when on these medications to make sure they don’t overdo any exercise. By reducing the inflammation your pet will feel better, though not healed, and they may want to play or exercise more than they should.

Preventative medicine is the best course, and regular exercise can help your dog’s joints, as activity delivers lubricating fluid to the joints. You don’t want to run a marathon or go too far, and should discuss the safe amount of daily exercise your dog can have with your vet. If your dog is overweight this compounds the problem and makes the situation worse. An overweight dog will suffer more pain and have more strain and pressure on their joints.

If your dog is used to jumping up on furniture, consider providing them with a set of stairs to make their ascent easier. A bed that keeps your dog off the floor or is cushioned with four or more inches of foam will help them rest their joints more comfortably. Ask your vet if adding a heating pad will help your dog’s situation.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from canine arthritis you should have them evaluated by your veterinarian to make certain this is what the issue is. After your dog has been diagnosed, your vet will probably have several suggestions for you. Being a responsible pet owner means evaluating all the options available and choosing the ones that will best serve your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently


  1. We are all for multi-modal approach. To us that means the best of all worlds.

    We used stem cell therapy with great results. Acupuncture can work great, hydrotherapy and physio therapy works great along with supplements.

    NSAIDs are the last resort to us.

  2. MY 5 year old lab has severe hip dysplasia and arthritis in her back, we give her fish oil, daily and a glucose/chondrotin mixture everyday too. it helps but she has now progressed to taking dermaxx.. getting her weight down will def help but anyone who owns a lab knows how hard that is. any other suggestions for hip dysplasia?


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