Natural Treatments for Dog Arthritis

People who suffer from arthritis know the debilitating effect it can have on their quality of life. Arthritis sufferers have difficulty going up stairs, they have joint pain, they don't enjoy walks as much as they used to. The same is true for cats and dogs with arthritis.

Arthritis, the general term used to describe a host of illnesses with similar symptoms, affects more than 25% of dogs. It is a condition caused by the deterioration of the cartilage that surrounds the joint. As the cartilage wears away, the body lays down calcium deposits on the ends of the bones, causing dog joint pain, discomfort and limiting the range of motion of the joints.

Dog Arthritis - Relief for Joint Pain

To help improve the cartilage, reduce inflammation and provide dog joint pain relief, many holistic veterinarians recommend nutritional supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), perna mussels, bromelain, and curcumin. Here's how they can help:

  • Glucosamine sulfate is one of the safest and most widely-used remedies for arthritis. It helps rehabilitate damaged cartilage by stimulating the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and chondroitin sulfate, the essential component of cartilage. Glucosamine has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity, which helps to relieve some of the joint pain the dog may be suffering.
  • Chondroitin sulfate is another natural medicine found in the body and it works to prevent enzymes from degrading the building blocks of joint cartilage. Chondroitin sulfate is often used in combination with glucosamine, however, when used alone, glucosamine sulfate helps the body to manufacture its own chondroitin.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is often recommended by veterinarians for animals with joint conditions. The sulfur in MSM can be utilized by the body in the formation of compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, as well as the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Arthritic joints often have low levels of both sulfur and cysteine. Animal studies have found MSM helps to maintain normal articular cartilage.
  • Green-Lipped Mussel, or Perna canaliculus, contains protein, minerals, glucosamine and Eicosatetraenoic acids (ETAs). ETAs are a type of Omega-3 fatty acids and provide an anti-inflammatory effect which helps reduce joint pain. Human patients receiving perna mussels reported less pain, joint stiffness and improved mobility.
  • Curcumin is the yellow/orange pigment in turmeric and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  
  • Bromelain is an enzyme that works to reduce swelling and inflammation. 

Other natural ingredients to look for include:

  • Boswellia - An anti-inflammatory which allows for increased blood supply to he joints to help stimulate repair.
  • Vitamin C - Important in the production of collagen which is needed for soft-tissue support for joints.
  • Zinc, selenium and manganese - Helps the body utilize antioxidants.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms

Dog arthritis usually develops slowly over time and may not be noticeable until there is severe damage to the cartilage. The reason for this is that the articular cartilage (the cartilage covering the end of each bone) lacks blood vessels and nerves, acting really as a shock absorber between two bones. The dog continues to run and play as the cartilage is wearing away.

When the cartilage eventually breaks down, the bones rub together, and the dog begins to display some of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs:

  • Lameness
  • Joint pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Pain or slowness in getting up
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Slowness of movement
Ideally, your dog should start receiving joint support in their middle years -- to help nourish and maintain the cartilage.