Category Archives: canine arthritis

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

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Common Health Issues for Older Dogs

By Ruthie Bently

Do you know how old a senior dog is? Most large dogs are considered seniors at the age of five to six years old, while their smaller counterparts are seniors at the age of eight to nine. As they age, many adult dogs can develop health issues that mirror our own, even down to the symptoms. According to a 2005 MIT study that mapped the canine genome, humans and dogs share 5% of the same genes, so it stands to reason they might have some of the same health problems we do.

One aspect of being a responsible pet owner is taking your dog in for a yearly vet visit, but senior canines may need to visit their vet more often. Older dogs don’t have the health reserves a younger dog has, and getting them to the vet quickly can be a life saver under certain conditions. Getting a base line veterinary checkup can help you with your geriatric canine; you can use it as a gauge for later vet visits.

One of the most common health problems our dogs have as they age is obesity. Obesity can be caused by overfeeding, not enough exercise or a combination of both. Obesity is a cause for concern because it can lead to more serious health issues and can actually make your dog age faster. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, lack of energy and the early onset of arthritis. Diabetes occurs when a dog’s body cannot assimilate glucose (blood sugars) properly. Signs of diabetes can include increased water consumption and inappropriate urination in the house. Side effects of diabetes are cataracts, glaucoma and blindness. Canine diabetes is managed with insulin injections, as it is with humans.

Senior canines are susceptible to developing heart disease, though it’s more common in dogs that are overweight. Dogs with a good exercise program and a healthy diet are less apt to develop heart problems. Your dog may be moving slower as they age, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get exercise. You just need to take their age into consideration when exercising. Tone down the exercise to something easier for your senior dog to handle; for example instead of jogging, go for a leisurely walk. Excessive heat and cold will affect your senior dog more, so don’t exercise them during too hot or too cold temperatures. Exercise more frequently, for shorter periods of time, and take along plenty of water for your dog.

Another health issue older dogs can have is dental disease, which is due to incorrect dental hygiene as well as the lack of kibble or baked treats in the dog’s daily diet. Without daily brushing, plaque turns into tartar which needs to be scaled off the teeth, as it cannot be removed by brushing. Tartar buildup can cause periodontal and gum disease and can lead to a bacterial infection in your dog’s system or the need for teeth extractions. Many senior dogs can have bad breath, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. Other things to watch for in your canine senior are a loss of their appetite, rapid weight loss or gain if their diet and exercise levels have not changed (this could be a symptom of cancer), excessive urinating or drinking excessive amounts of water (this could be a symptom of kidney issues).

Canine arthritis is a disease caused by improper lubrication of joints. It causes the joints to become inflamed and your dog will have a hard time or be unable to run, jump or even walk. Signs of arthritis can be difficulty standing after resting or limping after exercise or walking. The pain may make your dog aggressive or highly agitated. You can help your arthritic dog by getting them a canine heating pad, a bed made for an arthritic dog, or by putting a cover over their crate or moving it to a warmer room of the house in colder weather. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is comparable to human dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and some symptoms are confusion, wandering the house aimlessly, not recognizing humans or other pets, insomnia and inappropriate vocalizations. For more information, see my articles on canine arthritis and cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Just because our dogs are aging doesn’t mean their quality of life has to be any different than when they were younger. Your dog may be a bit grayer around the muzzle, walk a bit slower and take more time getting up after a nap; but if you look closely I’ll bet that you’ll still see that sparkle in their eye and that wagging tail as they greet you at the door after a hard day at work.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Understanding Canine Arthritis

By Ruthie Bently

As our canine companions get older they are susceptible to many of the same conditions of aging that affect humans; arthritis is one of these conditions. A dog’s skeletal system is comprised of not only their bones, but also the tendons and ligaments that give overall stability to the skeleton. Though they are not bones, an injury to tendons and ligaments can affect the onset of arthritis in our dogs too. Symptoms of arthritis are lagging behind during walks, limping, the inability to rise easily after resting, resistance to being touched, changes in their personality, a hesitancy to climb stairs, play, jump or even simply walking.

Arthritis is caused by an inflammation in the joints. It is usually divided into two categories: inflammatory joint disease and osteoarthritis, which is known as degenerative arthritis. Each one of these is divided into sub-categories. Inflammatory arthritis can affect multiple joints at the same time and is caused by an underlying disease that affects the dog’s immune system or an infection (infectious joint disease). Some symptoms can include stiffness, anorexia and fever. Infectious joint disease has several causes, which include a fungal infection, a tick borne disease like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease or a bacterium. Arthritis that affects the immune system can be brought on a hereditary weakness. There are several types including idiopathic arthritis and systemic lupus which cause infections in the joints but are not degenerative. Rheumatoid arthritis which is a deformative arthritis is the third kind, but is rare in dogs.

Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) is caused when the cartilage that protects bone joints is destroyed. This can happen when undue stress is put on normally healthy joints. Some examples of undue stress are injuries received during an accident or fall; or the tearing or hyperextension of ligaments during strenuous exercise which can include constantly jumping over an obstacle. It is also caused by stress put on abnormal joints because of issues like hip dysplasia, which is due to the hip bones not being properly formed. Osteoarthritis also has subcategories; primary and secondary disease. Primary osteoarthritis is one that there is no evident cause for, while secondary has a specific cause. Some of the causes of the secondary disease are ruptured knee ligaments, injury, patella luxation, and OCD (osteochondritis dissecans) as well as hip dysplasia. My vet mentioned that Skye may suffer from arthritis as she ages because of the damage to the ligaments in her left leg.

While arthritis is primarily a condition of our dogs aging, it can also be suffered by a younger dog. A larger breed dog with rapid growth spurts should be watched, especially if the breed is one that is genetically disposed to dysplasia or OCD. Responsible pet owners who carefully monitor their dog’s diet can keep their weight in line and help prevent this from happening. Owners with dogs that have arthritis may not notice anything wrong for quite some time. Cartilage doesn’t have nerves and joint damage may not be apparent until there is a severe joint problem and the fluid that lubricates the joints is critically depleted.

If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, there are several treatment options to consider. If a dog is overweight, this will put added stress on their joints, and your vet may suggest a weight reduction to alleviate this. If caught in time, surgery can sometimes stop or prevent osteoarthritis. While anecdotal, there is evidence that acupuncture can help a dog with arthritis. Laser therapy has also been used with good results. Consider getting an orthopedic dog bed or heated mat for them to lie on. Some veterinarians will suggest a nutraceutical in an attempt to rebuild the lost fluids around the joints. Your veterinarian may suggest an over the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (nsaid) for pain or a prescription drug for more severe arthritis.

As arthritis can be due to several causes, there are different treatments for each one. So what’s a responsible pet owner to do? Pay close attention to your dog’s moods and body language. If your normally happy dog is being crotchety, seems to take longer to get up after a nap or doesn’t want to participate in their regular routine, and you suspect your dog may have arthritis, a trip to the vet is in order.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.