Arthritis (or more specifically called osteoarthritis) in dogs or cats is a common condition that occurs in many as a result of injury, developmental disorders, or the wear and tear of aging. This painful ailment is caused by abnormal changes in a dog's or cat's joints and results in chronic inflammation. Pets suffering from arthritis may experience mild discomfort or severe pain but the condition gets worse over time, which makes treatments a priority for pet parents.
As part of their treatment plan, veterinarians will often recommend certain pet prescription pain relief and arthritis management medications, possibly, a change in diet to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in pets. But if you're searching for an alternative to prescription pain medications, there are natural treatments that may help pet owners manage arthritis pain in their dogs or cats.
The signs of arthritis can depend on the pet's size, age, chronicity of the condition, tolerance for discomfort, his or her immune system, and the extent of his or her activity level.
Dr. Pasternak says that dog parents may notice signs of arthritis including pets who limp or are slower to rise after lying down and less tolerant of long walks. Pets with arthritis may no longer jump on or off furniture and they may be reluctant to climb the stairs or chase a ball in the backyard.
Other signs of arthritis in let's are less obvious. These may include sleeping more than usual, weight gain, loss of muscle mass, depression, or poor appetite. Some dogs may have different responses to their arthritis in hotter temperatures or cooler temperatures.
The diagnosis of arthritis should always be made by a veterinarian or by Doctor Pasternak.
While your vet knows best, occasionally the pain medications prescribed to pets suffering from arthritis may have negative effects. Arthritis medication can cause damage to a pet's internal organs.
Pets on arthritis pain meds often need regular bloodwork to check liver and kidney values. NSAIDs and steroids can cause stomach ulcers too.
That's why natural treatments may be an alternative option for concerned pet owners.
The type of natural arthritis product will vary for pets based on their needs, but there are many alternative medications and supplements available. Pet owners should consult a holistic veterinarian or a veterinarian trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine, like Dr. Pasternak, before giving herbs or supplements to their pets.
Scientific studies in people indicate acupuncture does produce positive results.
Pet owners consider veterinary acupuncture as an option for helping to relieve arthritis pain in pets naturally. It works by stimulating nerves, increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms, and causing the release of hormones such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). In addition, the process is nearly pain-free for dogs and cats.
A pet receiving acupuncture treatments to relieve arthritis pain will start experiencing benefits after multiple visits. The effects start to last longer and longer, and the body returns to balance.
In addition to natural herbs, supplements, and acupuncture treatments, some veterinarians use the FDA-cleared Assisi Loop - which is similar to laser therapy. It uses targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (tPEMT) to aid in the body's own natural anti-inflammatory process. It enhances nitric oxide production to help speed the healing of soft and hard tissues including skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, and organs.
Trying canine massage, swimming, or walking on an underwater treadmill could reduce the effects of stress and release endorphins, and reduce trigger points in dogs. These options can also relieve arthritis pain. Help arthritic dogs stay active and build muscle and stimulate circulation.
Diet is a key component in recovery and management, especially since dog obesity can be commonly linked to arthritis.
Dr. Pasternak likes to recommend fresh food for his patients, like raw or some homemade diets. Since inflammation in the body often starts with how well food is, received by gut bacteria, probiotics are essential.
Pet owners should consult their veterinarians before starting their dogs on raw or homemade food since many of these diets have been shown to be contaminated with bacteria and/or nutritionally incomplete.
Any pet parent who is considering natural arthritis treatments for their pets that involve dietary or lifestyle changes should always consult with Dr. Pasternak to determine the best plan for pain management and treatment in your pet.
Keeping your pet as active as possible will also help keep weight off, which is an essential step in managing arthritis pain in pets. A heavy bodyweight means more pressure on the joints. Even if your pet has difficulty moving, try short, frequent walks or play games - like hide and seek - in the house to keep your pet active.