By Dr. Jeannie (Jeanette) Thomason
Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation) is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis is not a single disease. Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.
Let's take a holistic look and approach at this dis-ease.
Poor nutrition and toxin overload as well as aging can cause arthritis symptoms that have the ability to reduce the mobility and joint health of dogs, just as it does in humans.
Understanding the various causes of arthritis and possible remedies for relief could assist in enhancing your best friend's quality of life.
With age, it is often the daily wear and-tear of joints that begins to destroys the cartilage, often causing osteoarthritis and eventually degenerative arthritis.
What happens is that the aging process reduces cell stability and membrane strength, leading to free-radical production and injury susceptibility. Much of the pain associated with arthritis is due to swelling in the joint.
Poor or inadequate nutrition as well as illness, injuries and damage to body cells cause the release of compounds that cause inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. Some forms of arthritis in dogs are caused by a weakened immune system due to poor nutrition as a puppy. Your dogs immune system can be kept in peak condition by providing raw and unprocessed food, avoidance of toxins, plenty of exercise, sunshine and clean water. Make sure your dog is not exposed to toxins such as household cleaning chemicals, pesticides, weed killers or chemicals found in flea collars and topical drops.
Large-breed dogs and over-weight dogs usually have a higher-incidence of joint problems than other dogs do. However, just as with humans, there are considerable differences between individuals for arthritis susceptibility and the rate of arthritis progression.
Senior or older dogs who do not get regular exercise are more prone to arthritis.
We hate to see our dogs suffer in pain and they appear to be so uncomfortable the thought of forcing them to play or go for a walk seems cruel to some of us. However, research has shown that exercise is an essential tool in managing arthritis and its pain!
Regular, moderate exercise offers a whole host of benefits to our companions with arthritis. Mainly, exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness, builds strong muscle around the joints, and increases flexibility and endurance. It reduces inflammation from arthritis and related conditions and reduces the risk of other chronic conditions. It also helps promote overall health and fitness by actually giving your dog more energy, helping him/her sleep better, controlling their weight and even helps to decrease lethargy and depression.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a collective term for many diseases, some of which are curable. Infection or immune-mediated diseases can be localized or affect the entire body simultaneously. Resolving the infection or addressing the particular disease may alleviate rheumatoid arthritis.
Conventional, veterinary medicine recommends non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), including aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce the pain associated with arthritis. However, the NSAID does not treat the causes of arthritis, only the symptoms. The most common of the NSAIDs are usually dispensed for post soft tissue and bone repair surgeries. Researchers have recently found that dispensing NSAIDs in these cases are so dangerous that bone fracture surgical repairs are ending up with non unions, and ligament and tendon injuries upon which surgery was performed, have failed to heal. NSAIDS often result in liver damage; one veterinary dispensed NSAID in particular here in the U.S. is known for being the leading cause of liver failure.
NSAIDs cause adverse side effects and damage. The frequency and severity of effects vary however, the most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, rash, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. The more serious side effects include kidney failure, liver failure, ulcers, and prolonged bleeding after an injury or surgery and in about 15% of patients on long-term NSAID treatment develop ulceration of the stomach and duodenum
Additionally, we are finding that all drugs lead to critical nutrient depletion and NSAIDS are no different; folic acid, iron, potassium, sodium, Vit C and Glutathione are all listed as nutrients that become depleted with the commonly prescribed NSAIDS.
What's The Answer? Can we do anything to help ease the pain and aid healing?
A raw species appropriate diet along with nutritional supplementation of trace minerals, vitamins and key nutrients can aid in enhancing the quality of life for a dog afflicted with arthritis.
Processed and or cooked foods are extremely low in the amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and trace minerals needed to grow and maintain healthy joints and any true, live nutrients have been destroyed by the cooking/processing at such high temperatures. Oh sure, pet food lists almost every vitamin or mineral under the sun on the label but remember, these are all synthetically sourced and have all been added to the processed food just before packaging.
Raw meat, bones and organs are chock full of LIVE, nutrition - vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc., etc.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. The best source of omega -3 fatty acids for our dogs is wild salmon oil.
The vitamins A, C and E are important antioxidants to reduce tissue damage caused by free-radicals other harmful compounds and they antioxidants support immune function to defend against harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins, which otherwise could induce rheumatoid type arthritis. Vitamin C is involved in the synthesis collagen and connective tissue repair. Vitamin E blocks destructive enzymes that degrade cartilage.
Mineral status is a key factor for determining a dog's response to stress, injury, exercise and illness.
Raw, dried egg shells, chicken necks and/or fish cartilage contain Calcium ( for strong bones), Phosphorus (bone-teeth formation), Protein (manufacture of hormones, antibodies, enzymes, tissues) , Chondroitan Sulfate (vital compound in connective tissue, healthy joints, responsible for building cartilage), MPS (lubricates joints)
The green-lipped mussel is a shellfish from Australia and New Zealand. This mussel flesh is a good supplement as a source of chondroitin and other glycosaminoglycans. The glycosaminoglycans maintain and rebuild connective tissue such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments as well as reduce inflammation, which results in reduced joint pain and stiffness, less inflammation, and quicker recovery from exercise and injury.
MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane is a natural sulfur . It is the raw material used by the body to build healthy new cells pretty much everywhere but the highest concentrations are in the joints, skin, hair and nails.MSM makes the cells more permeable, (things can pass through) meaning nutrients in (good stuff) and the toxins (very bad) out. I It is a essential nutrient that is responsible for the ability to repair or replace damaged tissue quickly. It can be found naturally in eggs,meat, fish and poultry. Research studies suggest MSM reduces inflammation, dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow and reduces muscle spasms
As our pets bodies age (and our own for that matter), the body’s sulfur supply depletes because the manufacture process slows down and the result is seen in in joints stiffening up, inflammation, slow wound healing, brittle hair and nails, poor circulation, joint pain and skin problems.
Again, as our pets age and require more MSM it has become increasingly more difficult to feed them enough MSM. Farming methods have changed, the use of synthetic and chemical fertilizers on the grasses used to feed the animals we then feed to our pets have caused a depletion of most of the rich essential minerals that are needed for all round good health. If you have been feeding a cooked diet or worse yet a processed pet food, these vital nutrients and minerals have been destroyed or at the very least, weakened in potency.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced from the shells of shellfish. Glucosamine is a key component of cartilage, stimulates joint function and repair, renews synovial fluid and relieves the pain of osteoarthritis..
Sulfurzyme® combines MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) with Chinese wolfberries to maintain the structure of proteins, protect cells and cell membranes, replenish the connections between cells, and preserve the molecular framework of connective tissue.
is a combines the purest source of sulfur with the power of Ningxia wolfberries. Sulfur is an essential component of all life forms and is important in keeping connective tissue flexible.
All medical grade essential oils are anti-oxidants and many have wonderful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties that also aid in healing.
A few of the many Essential Oils helpful for arthritis are:
Copibia -- excellent anti-inflammatory
Lemongrass -- anti-inflammatory with the ability to regenerate connective tissue
Wintergreen -- active natural constituent similar to cortisone
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)-circulatory stimulants, analgesic
Please Note: I personally only use and only recommend the use of Young Living Essential oils due to their being certified therapeutic/medical grade oils being so pure and safe you can ingest them!
Some herbs helpful with inflammation and/or pain caused by arthritis are:
Turmeric -Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant
Devils Claw - Anti-rheumatic, blood cleanser, Eliminates uric acid and deposits in joints
Horsetail -Increases calcium absorption, promotes healing of broken bones and connective tissue
Yucca - Blood purifier, Anti-inflammatory. Vitamin A, B-Complex, C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper
Celery Seed - B-Complex Vitamins, Iron, Vitamins A, C, calcium, potasium, iron, phosphorus, sodium. Neutralizes Uric and Other acids
Magnolia Bark - Reduce inflammation
Chamomile - Calmative, Anti-inflammatory
Ginger - Stimulates circulation, Antioxidant, Reduces spasms
Arthritis does not have to be the depressing diagnosis we dread as our companions age and we surely can do so much naturally and holisticlly to eliminate it and it's affects on our dogs.
Artho Aid is a nutritional supplement of naturally sourced (not synthetic) chelated trace minerals, vitamins, green-lipped mussels,and herbs that help to enhance the quality of life for joint-afflicted dogs.
If you are unsure about your dog's diet or need support in getting him/her on a healthier, more natural lifestyle, you may be interested in a consultation
Copyright 2006 -2012 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.