Dog owners, especially big dog owners, know joints and hips in dogs are one of the keys to giving them a happy and healthy life. Even through our best intentions and care, some dogs can and will suffer through painful arthritic joint and hip problems. Surgery should always be a last resort, but sometimes is the only option in certain cases. However, in most cases, these symptoms can be treated or alleviated through medication, holistic, or via lifestyle and diet changes. We’ll leave the medication recommendations to the vets out there, but we’ll list some holistic, lifestyle and diet changes that can be considered.
Arthritic, joint and hip problems are usually noticed via sluggishness or reduced energy in your dog. Common activities such as walking or simply getting up become more difficult. As conditions worsen, dogs can become immobile and their quality of life dramatically decreases. This is most common in large breed dogs, but can manifest in any size dog. Some common and effective natural treatments are listed below.
Glucosamine and chondroitin is the most common supplement used to treat arthritis and joint problems in dogs as well as humans. Some dog owners find it to be extremely helpful, while others see little to no results. Be sure to use a quality supplement and experiment with different dosages before ruling out this option. Also, give the supplement 4-6 weeks at a minimum to take produce results. Don’t expect anything within the first week or two. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements come in varying forms from pills, to powder to liquids. This makes it very easy to give to your dog.
Another natural treatment that is new to the market is hyaluronic acid, which is also known as Hyaflex. Hyaluronic acid was originally used in horses, but has been successfully used in dogs. It claims to help maintain healthy cartilage as well as joint function and flexibility.
New to market is MSM or methylsulfonylmethane. MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in the body that supports a number of bodily functions. Tests have shown MSM to be very successful in reducing joint, hip and arthritis pain in dogs. It is a natural analgesic and helps block transfer of pain impulses. Some tests and reviews have claimed it to be superior to glucosamine and chondroitin. Look for MSM derived from phytoplankton. Many over the counter MSM supplements are derived from petroleum and methane gas, which isn’t recommended for you or your dog in that synthetic form.
Reducing high impact activities such as running on hard surfaces is one of the simplest ways to improve joint pain in your dog. Try to talk a daily walk or two with your dog instead. If you insist on running or jogging with them, try to run them on grass or any softer surface. If available, swimming is a great activity for any dog. It’s low impact and strengthens every muscle in your dog, while also relieving pain.
A good bed, especially an orthopedic bed will help greatly too. Look for a bed that is supportive and thick enough so it doesn’t cave in or allow your dog to touch the ground. Bullybeds.com makes orthopedic beds that are specially made for arthritic and big dogs in mind. Choose a bed that is either made from a high quality memory foam or some other supportive foam. A quality bed will relieve the pressure on your dog’s joints and hips and go a long way in extending their quality of life and mobility.
Dietary changes will help ease arthritis. Many dog owners don’t realize that grains found in dog food can create inflammation, which worsens or helps foster arthritis in dogs. Look for a dog food that is free from any grains. Avoid nightshade vegetables such as potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok), tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. These vegetables will only aggravate arthritic conditions. Supplement your dog’s food with fatty acids or buy a dog food that is already rich in fatty acids. The fatty acids will reduce inflammation and help improve your dog’s coat.
Feed your dog a food that’s very lean. High fat diets can increase inflammation as well as weight. Don’t overfeed your dog and make sure to maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight will only worsen arthritis and joint problems.
Finally, if your dog is on any prescribed medications, be sure to consult with you vet prior to introducing any new over the counter supplements to avoid adverse drug interactions.