Dog Parents Guide to Safely Slowing Dog Arthritis

Fatty tissue produces inflammatory hormones that cause chronic inflammation and that means dog arthritis!  You could have knocked me over with a dog biscuit when in learning that fat can cause chronic inflammation. Dr. Julie Buzby is a partner in healthy dog living and safely treating dog arthritis, and she gave gave us a (fi)dose of reality with that factoid. Those few pounds your dog’s veterinarian wants him to take off? It’s in the best interest of your dog’s joints (and heart muscle and cancer prevention).

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Whether your dog has been limping, is older and showing signs of arthritis, or you want to safely start a supplement or steps to slow arthritis down, you’ve landed in the right spot.

Dog Parents Guide to Safely Slowing Dog Arthritis

What Causes Dog Arthritis

Our dog has undergone two extracapsular suture surgeries on two separate occasions to repair torn ligaments of his rear legs, namely the cranial cruciate ligament (ACL/CCL). He’s stuck with arthritis, but that isn’t stopping him or me from slowing it down.

The Kennel Club of the UK says, ”Most cases develop as a result of abnormal rubbing within the joint caused by joint instability (e.g. after ligament damage), damage to or abnormal cartilage development, or damage caused by trauma (e.g. fractures).”

Age, injury, accident, neglect, and even diet can contribute to arthritis in dogs, just as those factors affect people.

Dog weight can help prevent arthritis
Checking out the scale at the vet office

Slowing Dog Arthritis

Nothing can completely cure canine arthritis. There are ways to slow it down, coat the joint, make life easier, and enable your dog to have the healthiest, happiest life possible.

As a lifelong dog parent, here are tips from experts I trust along with products we’ve used with success. Each dog is different and you should always talk to your pet’s veterinarian for complete guidance. The following represents the things I wish I knew when a Cocker Spaniel first entered my life.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are important fatty acids for both people and dogs because they cannot be made in the body. The only source of EPA and DHA for these species is through the diet and/or supplementation. Daily supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids helps support optimal health, so we do that.

What We Use: The supplement we have used on our dogs for years is Nordic Naturals Soft Gels for Dogs. I use one capsule based on my dog’s weight and puncture the capsule on his food at suppertime. Yes, quality and brand matter and not all Omega 3’s are created equal, which is why we have used this brand for over a 15 years on our dogs.

Dr. Buzby, holistic veterinarian and inventor of Toe Grips for Dogs, says, “In 2010, two research studies suggested that dogs with chronic arthritis who were fed omega-3- fatty acids showed improvement in their pain levels and symptoms.”

Are there side effects to Omega 3 supplements? The main issue Buzby shares with clients is that fatty acids may increase bleeding times, so she recommends her clients stop them a few weeks before scheduled surgery.

CLICK THIS: ==== > Read more about the reality of dog vitamins and supplements here.

Veterinary visit for arthritis dog

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplement

Joint support supplements PRIOR to joint damage is essential.

“I like at risk dogs on basic joint support from a year of age, and dogs with early diagnoses of joint disorders on it even sooner,” says Dr. Laurie S. Coger, DVM, CVCP, of The Healthy Dog Workshop. “These products are most effective prior to the development of arthritis — ie they are preventative strategies, not treatments. Key ingredients of these supplements include glucosamine, MSM, omega 3 fatty acids, and herbs such as turmeric and boswellia.”

What We Use: Nutramax 30 Count Cosequin Advanced Strength Plus Supplement for Pets

I use the Advanced formula because I noticed a distinct difference in my dog’s gait function on it. We crush up one capsule with a small mortar and pestle and mix with his food at lunch. If you are just starting a dog on a supplement, ease into it, watch for any signs of digestive issues (diarrhea), and be sure to talk to your dog’s vet about any contraindications in advance.

Cut Down on Carbs

Carbohydrates actually promote inflammation and not something that a dog with an inflammatory joint problem needs. According to Dr. Coger, more research is showing the harm that starches and carbohydrates can do, so minimize the amount fed. Lots of low carb options exist, in the commercial and home prepared/fresh food categories.

A healthy diet coupled with joint mobility (exercise) and a stable weight are keys to slowing down arthritis and keeping a dog well overall. Watch those “low fat” and “weight management” labels on dog food, as they could actually be laden with unnecessary weight loading carbs.

Our dog can jump a bench at the park 😉

Dogs Are Not Created Equal

Like people, dogs react differently to medications and supplements. What works for one dog may not for another. If your dog is afflicted with arthritis, these supplements will help with joint lubrication, but they will not reverse the damage done.

What Not To Do For Canine Arthritis

If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, it is common that the overseeing veterinarian will prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

“Although NSAIDs are effective at reducing inflammation and pain and promoting improved comfort and a better quality of life, there are concerns for mild to severe side effects, including damage to the kidneys, liver, digestive tract, nervous system, blood clotting cascade, and more, “says Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA, CVJ.

Mahaney says pain-numbing drugs like tramadol or gabapentin can be used to help with arthritis pain, but they generally don’t directly address the underlying issue and have side effects of their own such as behavior changes, sedation, constipation, nausea, and more.

For the arthritic dog, Dr. Coger recommends physical therapy, including underwater treadmill, therapeutic exercises, and low level laser can decrease inflammation, speed healing, and build muscle strength.

Use caution if your dog must engage with medications and injections. Pain relief is key but not at the expense of creating other problems.

Dog playing ball indoors

The One Thing You Must Do For Your Dog

There are no pills, supplements, or magic treatments for range of motion and movement of joints.

Keep your dog active with exercise and movement according to his size, stamina, and age.

Dogs who do not get exercise, even at a stable weight, can still develop arthritis. Movement is important, and that movement should be geared at what a dog can and should tolerate. Sedentary dogs should not suddenly be expected to run and jog, but they should slowly be acclimated to an exercise regimen.

CLICK HERE ===> How to Safely Exercise a Lazy Dog

One of the most common injuries after the colder months, when dogs start getting outside more, is damage and rupture to the ACL joint. It makes sense, too: Dogs are lying around and are less active and then suddenly start moving their limbs and snap!

What are you doing to prevent canine arthritis from catching up with your dog’s joints? Bark at us in the comments below. 

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  1. Such an important topic for pet parents. These helpful hints provide practical information for the pet parent. How to be vigilant while keeping your pet healthy!

  2. This is such great information! We know fat is bad, but I can’t believe fat can be such a big contributor to arthritis! I don’t want to wait for a problem to occur in my dogs and have to resort to medications. I’m all about using more natural products to prevent or slow joint issues if I can. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love that you touch on exercise as it really can be a huge factor for arthritis. It’s important to consider the level of exercise based on the dogs natural state and ability but it’s also important to limit the intensity and repetitiveness of exercise. Some dogs won’t stop intense ball catching even if they should. Monitoring how much and how intense is just as important as the exercise itself.

  4. I have a Husky! She’s 3 years old and VERY active! I definitely agree with the how we should factor in the age and type of dog when implementing a game plan to combat arthritis. Aside from providing her supplements, I guess the next thing I’m going to focus on is finding healthier dog foods. Thanks for the article!

  5. Both my dogs are 9 now so joint health & arthritis are a concern. I’ve been giving them an Omega 3 & 6 supplements for almost a year now and it seems to help. Even in the cold we try to get them out for long walks and activities. I need to add chondroitin & glucosamine to the routine too.

  6. Thanks for helping me out to understand the factors which should be taken into consideration to keep the dogs away from arthritis and other types of health-related disorders. Lack of exercise and poor quality diet is solely responsible for arthritis in the dogs. One of the best ways to reduce the pain associated with arthritis in dogs is to apply CBD or cannabinoid which is derived from cannabis and is considered as an effective pain reducer.

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