Dog Arthritis Can Be Cured! When a veterinarian performs a general physical examination, they will look at your animal’s limbs, check their range of motion and inspect them for swelling, heat, abnormal sounds (like creaking or “pops”), pain and tenderness.
Reflexes are tested with the use of a neurologic hammer. They’ll also be looking for bone dislocations or outgrowths and any signs of degenerative joint disease.
An analysis of joint fluid, known as a joint tap, can also help determine the potential causes of joint damage as well.
A simple radiograph (X-ray), which is a test that any veterinarian can perform, will also help reveal the cause of the pet’s lameness and will help your veterinarian to provide a proper diagnosis.
Sometimes the cause of limping can be a hidden wood splinter, glass shard or other foreign body that will show up on a radiograph. In some cases, special diagnostic procedures like CAT scans or magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) can also assist in making the correct diagnosis.
In some instances, further diagnostic tests must be relied upon to make a definitive diagnosis. If radiographs fail to provide a diagnosis, special examinations, such as myelography or arthrography may be necessary.
Neurologic evaluations may also be necessary, necessitating the use of special examinations, including electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and nerve conduction studies.
There is a specific organization, known as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, that can take a look at the radiographs and offer a second opinion, if necessary, when the causes of lameness are questionable. Once you have a firm diagnosis, then you can look at all sorts of treatment options.
If you are dealing with canine arthritis, the condition commonly falls into one of these three categories:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis, or
- Septic Arthritis.
For many purebred dogs, canine osteoarthritis (where the cartilage in a dog’s joints deteriorates or becomes damaged) is what you can expect to find and it typically worsens with age. It is possible for the progression of the disease to occur so slowly that a dog’s owner would not even recognize that their pet had the symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is not unique to any breed, but most commonly affects older animals. Breeding practices have resulted in certain types of lameness becoming a congenital (genetic) condition.
The osteoarthritis and hip problems common to older Labrador-retrievers or German shepherds are good examples of disease that may be due to an inherited condition, hip dysplasia.
Of course, osteoarthritis can also result from the trauma of a road traffic accident, abnormal joint stresses, from infection in a joint, or just “wear and tear” from advancing age.
As for rheumatoid arthritis, it occurs when the dog’s immune system starts attacking the animal’s own synovial tissues, ultimately resulting in destruction of the articular (joint) cartilage and bone.
The inflammation and tissue destruction causes serious pain. If the condition is not treated properly, a dog will experience debilitating pain from this form of arthritis and will have problems running and exercising.
Septic (Infective) arthritis is caused by infections that are carried to the dog’s joints through the bloodstream. For instance, a bite, thorn or road accident may give infective organisms a chance to enter a dog’s body and travel, via the blood supply, to the joints, which then become inflamed. This is why infected wounds should normally be treated by a veterinarian.
Chondroitin Sulfate for Canine Arthritis
You’ve heard of glucosamine sulfate, but there’s also chondroitin sulfate for helping dogs with leg and hip problems.
Chondroitin sulfate consists of repeating chains of molecules – called mucopolysaccharides – that supply cartilage with structure and elasticity (flexibility).
It holds water and nutrients and actually draws them into cartilage, which has no blood supply of its own. It tends to block enzymes that destroy cartilage prematurely and aids in the cushioning and lubricating of joints.
While glucosamine sulfate is a small molecule, chondroitin sulfate is a much larger molecule, whose increased size makes it much harder for a human (or animal) to absorb.
While research studies suggest that glucosamine may stimulate the production of cartilage-building proteins, other studies suggest that chondroitin may inhibit the production of enzymes that destroy cartilage and that it may help fight inflammation. Animal studies show that it may promote the healing of bone and help restore joint function.
Typically it is taken as a supplement in combination with some form of glucosamine.
The major source of chondroitin sulfate for supplements is from cow cartilage (though it also comes from the gristle around bones) whereas glucosamine is usually extracted from shellfish (mollusk) shells. In a survey of some 1,500 veterinarians, 80% believed these supplements to be effective and safe.
Taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements provides the natural raw materials your dog can use to boost its cartilage production, stop its deterioration, and increase the production of the synovial fluid found between joints.
We cannot ask hurting dogs how they feel, but can only gauge the effectiveness of these supplements by their results … we often find happy, smiling, running animals again after they’ve been on it for a few weeks.
If you have a dog that is losing its mobility or is suffering from joint pain, giving your pet a high quality glucosamine/chondroitin supplement is definitely worth a try.
Most pet owners find that when they start supplementing their dog’s diet with the right glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, they can see a definite improvement within a few weeks.
It has been reported to be helpful for canine conditions as diverse as arthritis, inflamed/degenerative discs, sciatic nerve, dysplasia and inflamed joints associated with aging, cartilage-tendon-ligament repair, and in reducing inflammatory responses.
Other therapies, such as canine homeopathy, acupressure and dog acupuncture and dog massage have been known to help as well, but more on those later.
Using Dog Gone Pain for Arthritic Dogs
When the standard remedies, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and related substances don’t help your pet, another high priority dog alternative to try is DGP (Dog-Gone Pain), developed out of Australia.
Australian vets and pet owners have found this product can benefit an extremely high proportion of the animals suffering from joint instability, hip dysplasia, spondylosis and joint inflammation.
Dog Gone Pain ( DGP ) for Canine Arthritis
Dr. C.D. McKellar of Melbourne Australia, a veterinarian, has worked for years to develop DGP to help dogs who have hip dysplasia and arthritis. It contains a variety of herbs – mostly native Australian plant species – and additionally shark cartilage, which is a rich source of GAGs.
A variety of human studies have shown that shark cartilage, bovine cartilage and even chicken cartilage are highly helpful for arthritis and help rebuild arthritic joints.
DGP also contains a mixture of enzymes and anti-inflammatory ingredients that are helpful for arthritis and connective tissues. The list of ingredients, which are mostly anti-inflammatory herbs, include:
- Wild rosella (Hibicus sabdariffa)
- Aniseed myrtle (Backhousia anisata)
- Mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata)
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
- Celery seed (Apium graveolens)
- Boswella (Boswellia serrata) – well known to help inflammation
- Bromelain (Ananas cosmosus) – another famous anti-inflammatory
- Papain (Crica papaya)
- Corydalia root (Cordydalis turtschaninovii)
- Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens)
- Wheat grass (Triticum aestivum)
- Tumeric (Curcuma longa)
- Shark cartilage
In an Australian test, racing hounds (which are often “retired” after developing severe joint problems), were able to race and function much longer than usual when on the DGP formula.
They experienced far fewer bone fractures and healed quicker. Even retired racing dogs were able to return to the track or simply live a normal life without pain after their racing days were over.
The same thing was observed for a variety of other working dogs, including “cow dogs,” police, and military hounds. Remember that thousands of dollars are spent to find and train these beautiful creatures, and DGP helps to both remove their pain and extend their working life span. These dogs actually love being active and DGP gives them a new lease on life.
Unlike glucosamine sulfate, DGP seems to work much quicker, and individuals often notice changes within 1-2 weeks after its use. In other words, you can sometimes see dramatic changes within days and weeks sooner than other supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
But once again, the result is not for certain. It depends on the animal.
It’s reported that giving a dog DGP is like giving them an anti-aging supplement because the dogs become more active and “seem happier.”
Probably because a number of these herbs help remove pain and inflammation, I cannot see why animals would be any different from humans in appearing more happy, calm, energetic and relaxed should their chronic pains go away.
After all, pain relief is like getting a second lease on life and enables the animals to do what they are meant to do, which is run and play.
Just as with glucosamine sulfate, it takes some time for DGP to truly help rebuild the cartilage of joints, and therefore the product is something your pet will need to take on a continuous basis.
Once animals go off DGP, the dog’s pain, inflammation and other arthritic conditions seem to return most rapidly but the longer an animal stays on the product, the longer the tail-off or residual effect until the arthritic condition once again seems to “kick in.”
DGP is in many ways similar to human enzyme cocktails like Wobenzyme and because of the similar ingredients it would not be surprising to expect the same results. For Wobenzyme, those include less inflammation, faster healing rates, less arthritic pain, more mobility and a quicker return to normal functioning. Presumably the same results are happening in dogs.
We don’t know of any product for pets that works 100% of the time, but this is one of our top alternatives when glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate combos fail to produce much progress for the condition.
How to Massage Arthritic Dogs
Daily massages can also be beneficial for your dog in maintaining joint flexibility, which is the point of exercise, and may not only help you relieve your pet’s discomfort, but helps you maintain that special bond of quality time with “man’s best friend.”
Massage therapy has a therapeutic use as well, for it improves muscle and joint flexibility, increases blood supply to joints, and helps prevent or breakdown scar tissue formation.
Simply gently leading a joint through its full range of motion – using slow, passive movements — can help it maintain or regain normal range of motion such as during the recovery from an operation.
This type of massage will stimulate blood circulation to the muscles and joints and once muscle strength and usage of the leg returns, it is no longer necessary. It canbe done at home, unlike chiropractic treatment for dogs or canine acupuncture which requires you to see a professional.
Dog Massage for an Arthritic Pet
To learn the proper way to massage your dog, you can study with a massage therapist trained in animal anatomy or your veterinarian may instruct you in how you can practice massage therapy on your pet at home.
Two books are particular useful for learning these techniques: Dr. Michael Fox’s The Healing Touch as well as Love, Miracles and Animal Healing.
Dogs and cats use stretching to relax and keep in shape but as animals get older and stiff, they can’t stretch and move around as easily. Therapeutic massage can help relieve some of their pain and stiffness and help them regain some of their mobility, so let’s focus on the therapeutic massage you can use for a dog who suffers from arthritis or dysplasia.
First, you must recognize that there are times when you do not want to massage your dog. This includes:
- Just after they have eaten
- When they are sick, with fever, or have an infection
- Immediately following strenuous exercise to allow their heart rate to normalize to a resting level
- When a dog is pregnant because it’s possible to unintentionally induce premature labor
Before you start massaging your dog according to any specific acupressure routine, you should first settle in a nice relaxing place where you and your dog can remain calm and undisturbed.
Don’t massage your dog if they still want to jump around and play because you’ll have little success in administering a successful therapeutic session. Wait till they’ve calmed down before you begin a massage session.
Now sit or lay down with your dog and start your massage of him or her by gently brushing your hands over their head and running down their back to their tail. When you follow this direction of massage — running from the dog’s head, neck and back to the rear — you are actually following the natural lines of the animal’s acupuncture meridians.
The most important thing to remember when massaging your dog is to watch their reactions. If they growl, resist or try to nip you because you touch a spot that’s painful or sore, listen to them and stop.
You’ve just discovered a “hot spot,” so avoid that area. A dog will let you know in no uncertain terms whether they are enjoying your touch or not, and where they don’t like it. Don’t press into that area or location.
Pets also seem to pick up on your energies when you massage them, so a few more words of advice are not to massage your dog when you are irritable or too hyper as that will, in turn, tend to make the animal irritable.
You can communicate your own moods through your touch, so only approach your dog when you are sure it will be a pleasurable experience for both of you.
When a dog doesn’t like you touching a certain area, inspect the area to determine whether or not there is a problem there. Also, if you are petting your dog and you feel excess heat over an area of their back, it may be an early sign of a “slipped disc” or arthritis that needs to be checked by your veterinarian.
When you find that your dog actually pushes or rubs into your touch instead of moves away from you, or “bathes in ecstasy” when you massage them, that is an area you may want to massage deeper or for a longer period of time.
Here’s how to massage that area, and the acupressure points around affected limbs, to provide a deeper therapeutic benefit.
Dog Food and Special Diets for Canine Arthritis
The first rule with arthritic pets is to keep them lean through the use of a proper diet.
In other words, keep their weight down because keeping a dog thin can alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis. Obesity only increases the burden on painful joints, so help your dogs lose excess weight if they are suffering from arthritis, dysplasia pain and inflammation.
Canine Anti-Arthritis Diets and Dog Foods
Helping your dog lose weight is a hard thing to do, especially when you cannot encourage more exercise, so how do you do this?
By improving the diet.
The first rule of an anti-arthritis diet for dogs is to remove grains from the diet since they typically increase inflammation and aggravate arthritis.
The number of humans who are “cured” of arthritis after going on grain free diets is simply amazing, as is the number who get cured by also eliminating “nightshades” from the diet – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers (red, yellow, green, jalapeno, pimento, etc.), cayenne, chili, eggplant, paprika, curry, and MSG.
For dogs, too, many animals improve simply by removing grains from the diet, so if you’ve been feeding your animal grains for years, this might be contributing to their problems.
If you take them off grains, in many cases you’ll see their condition improve. This means that all forms of kibble are out since they contain a large proportion of grains, but some canned foods are okay if they are grain free.
The problem with grains is not just an allergic reaction, but the fact that many animals already suffer from “leaky gut” syndrome.
Some of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat arthritis in animals can irritate the intestinal tract and as side effects, these medications can degrade the gastrointestinal (GI) system’s ability to keep food substances from leaking into the general circulation.
A dog can thereby develop inflammation and allergic reactions (namely arthritis) to food particles floating around in the blood circulation because of a leaky gut.
That’s why human enzyme supplements, such as Wobenzyme, work in countering arthritis since they help to cleave these molecules apart before they can produce an inflammatory reaction.
The results of using drug medications is a two-edged sword because when the GI tract is affected, not only can food particles leak out of the gut but the intestines can lose their ability to absorb necessary nutrients as well.
Another factor about the diet is that pet owners often simply feed their dogs too much. Remember, research has shown that a dog can go without eating for a full five days before any health effects start to show! They don’t have to eat every day, and you can easily reduce the number of calories dogs consume by reducing the quantity of food you feed them by one-quarter to one-third.
If you cannot easily make out by touch each of your dog’s ribs when you feel for them, there’s a good chance your pet is overweight and overfed (or not getting enough exercise).
Basically, an anti-arthritic and weight loss diet follows certain guidelines, some of which can be relaxed as your pet recovers:
- Eliminate grains from the diet (allergies to wheat and gluten, for instance, are often known to cause arthritis; modified food starch or MSG or spices usually contain gluten as a binder, filler or bulking agent as do ice cream, catsup, mayonnaise and so forth)
- Do not feed your dog peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes or eggplant because they belong to the “nightshade” family of plants, also known to cause arthritis
- Avoid citrus, especially oranges, which can also aggravate arthritis
- No dairy except raw dairy (yogurt is fine, cottage cheese is good)
- No added salt, sugar, flavorings, colorings, preservatives (no processed food, human or dog, not even treats)
- Cartilage from the ends of large bones is beneficial. Feed your dog raw meaty bones from a reputable source (to avoid potential diseases) and be certain the bones can’t splinter to cause a whole new set of problems..
- Feed small amounts of liver (no more than 5% of total diet)
- Fish body oil, which helps with inflammation, can be safely incorporated into the diet
- Add Ester-C (buffered vitamin C, calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate) with bioflavonoids to the diet instead of ascorbic acid, which can be irritating.
- Reduce the dietary fat by feeding your dog leaner meat and increase their fiber intake by feeding them veggies not commonly known to produce arthritis. Good veggies include celery, carrots, parsley, asparagus, broccoli, cilantro, and garlic.
Frankly, animals that tend to look and feel the best usually are fed home-prepared diets, rather than commercial dog food, and specifically, diets containing a certain balance of organic meats, vegetables, grains and vitamin/mineral supplements.
You can consult a book such as Love, Miracles and Animal Healing, by Dr. Allen Schoen and Pam Proctor (Fireside), for specific recipes.
Other useful titles include Home Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Donald Strombeck) and Let’s Cook for Our Dog (Edmund Dorosz). You can also ask a holistic veterinarian to help you design an appropriate diet for your pet.
Don’t forget the natural supplements chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate.
The general consensus of holistic veterinarians and dog breeders is that most grocery-store pet food is not as good for your animal as a home-made, well-balanced and proportioned diet. However, if home cooking isn’t feasible then learn to follow two general rules of thumb:
- Look for human-grade organic or quality meats and
- Avoid grains.
Some top choices for commercial dog-food include PetGuard, Nutravet and Innova.
Various dog training and puppy training materials
Here are my top two choices for Dog Training methods:
Our #1 Choice (out of dozens of products) is: Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer
Professional dog trainer Adam Katz (who has trained thousands of dogs) in this programs reveals ALL his secrets on how to select and train puppies (such as how to housebreak a puppy in a hurry, talk to them and feed them) but it also deals with all the issues related to grown dogs.
Just some of the things you’ll learn: how to talk to and praise your dog, how to stop your dog from jumping on you, how to use your voice correctly, how to use collars, leash training, how to stop barking and separation anxiety and more.
The program is SAFE and FUN and you can start applying the secrets in about 10 minutes. You’ll also learn all sorts of dog obedience, agility and behavioral lessons such as how to walk your dog on a loose leash and things such as how to find a great veterinarian, or even where to buy pet supplies at rock bottom prices over the internet.
Adam even teaches you how to select a professional trainer if you want to go that extra mile and spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on that option. Just click on the link or picture to learn more, including all the BONUSES that come with the program.
Alright, If that doesn’t please you, our #2 Choice is: Sit Stay Fetch – Dog Obedience Training
If our top choice doesn’t please you, we only have one other program that we can recommend to you. We’d be embarrassed to recommend anything else other than these two dog and puppy training programs, and offer this second choice which stands out by being less expensive.
It’s also another complete dog training guide, by professional dog trainer Daniel Stevens, and once again applies to both puppies AND older dogs. It covers all sorts of dog obedience and dog behavior problems such as putting an end to barking, biting, tugging, separation anxiety and excess aggression.
You can learn how to train your dog to respond to commands such as Come (Recall), Hold and Leave, Sit, Sit and Stay, Down (Drop), Heel, Fetch (Retrieve), Climb ladders, Shake hands, Crawl, Jump, Rollover and more.
In addition, in this program there are dog grooming tips, house training methods, security training information and more. Just click on the link right now (or the picture) to find out more.
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