Arthritis and other joint issues are far too common in dogs of all ages. There are more dogs with arthritis and joint injuries than ever before.
Types Of Joint Disease
There are two major types of joint problems:
Developmental joint problems include hip or elbow dysplasia, or luxating patella. In these cases, the joint doesn’t develop correctly, and it can cause significant joint pain for your dog.
Degenerative joint problems caused by wear and tear over time are many. The most common cause of arthritis in dogs is cruciate ligament problems. The ligament degenerates over time, causing instability in the joint, and secondary osteoarthritis.
Causes Of Degenerative Joint Problems
Here’s what happens to your dog’s joints over time.
Synovium is the fluid that protects the cartilage and keeps the movement supple in the joint between the bones. It’s important to keep the synovial fluid healthy to prevent bone touching bone that causes pain and the destruction of cartilage. Once this happens there will be more stress on joint cartilage, causing that to dry out as well.
In your dog’s knee, the meniscus is a thickened cartilage pad between the femur and tibia, creating a smooth surface for the joint to move on. Its job is to keep the surface load balanced during weight-bearing and to distribute joint fluid for lubrication.
Keeping inflammation at bay is the first line of defense in maintaining healthy joints. Where there’s inflammation, there will then be degeneration of the synovium and meniscus. Inflammation is heat; heat dries out connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, synovial fluid, and muscles. In due course, inflamed joints lead to arthritis pain for your dog.
Herbs For Joint Health
Herbal medicine can improve your dog’s musculoskeletal health and strength. Here are some medicinal herbs that can help you avoid anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication.
Ashwagandha is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antispasmodic. It works synergistically with many other herbs to reduce muscle fatigue, autoimmune inflammation, and to regulate adrenal glands.
Eleuthero Root is an antioxidant that can prevent lactic acid buildup when used daily. This is helpful, especially with athletic dogs, to manage inflammation in the joints, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons. It will help blunt immune depletion from over-activity.
Amalaki is anti-inflammatory, nutritive, and rejuvenative. It’s a very high source of vitamin C and doesn’t cause digestive distress when dosed correctly. It provides a myriad of antioxidants that are essential in preventing further joint degeneration. Amalaki contains the potent antioxidant enzymes glutathione, peroxidase, and catalase, as well as superoxide dismutase (SOD), an enzyme that promotes the rejuvenation and repair of cells while reducing damage caused by free radicals. It also has a high concentration of amino acids, trace minerals, and phytonutrients. It helps repair connective tissue disorders such as luxating patella or partially torn CCL as well as managing arthritis.
Cat’s Claw is anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, and works well in joint blends for osteoarthritis and debility. It may be the single most important herb for Lyme-triggered arthritis. It’s also high in free-radical scavenging (antioxidant) activity.
Devil’s Claw is anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It can stop pain quickly by bringing the inflammation down. It’s high in magnesium which is prevalent in bones and smooth muscle. It’s essential for metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids and is sometimes referred to as the circulatory mineral due to its regulating effect on muscle contractions.
Ginger relieves the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by stopping the immune system’s production of inflammatory leukotrienes. It’s a healing herb and is, therefore, best used with cooling herbs for synergy; it combines well with turmeric, devil’s claw, and boswellia. Use the powdered dried root.
Solomon’s Seal is known in Chinese medicine to moisten dryness, stop pain and different types of spasms. It replicates the human spine, with some research showing it can rewrite the DNA of anything spinal-specific. It’s very successful for bone spurs as well as arthritic joints and it combines well with glucosamine, amalaki, and boswellia for joint health.
Comfrey Leaf strengthens and supplies connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons. It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin A, silicon, selenium, protein, potassium, chromium, and calcium.
Boswellia is a herb with anti-inflammatory properties that has been used for thousands of years. It comes from the sap of the boswellia tree grown in India and is dried into a resin. It can slow the breakdown of connective tissues and inhibit inflammatory activity.
Concerns With Boswellia: Boswellia powders often contain silicon dioxide (sand). So it’s best to use a tincture that is less likely to contain silicon dioxide (but still may). Silicon dioxide is added to Boswellia at the source, you won’t see it on the label. That means you have to trace it back to the supplier to be sure. Also, boswellia in India is becoming endangered. It’s a slow-growing tree and demand is outstripping supply. Different species of boswellia grow in other countries … but they don’t all have the same healing properties.
How To Choose Herbs For Your Dog’s Joints
This is a hearty sampling of herbal remedies that nourish, supply, and fortify your dog’s musculoskeletal system. There are several blends available that contain some of these herbs, so you can use this list as a guide to help you find a complete supplement. You can also ask your holistic veterinarian or herbalist to create a custom supplement to suit the needs of your individual pup. Keep in mind his needs will change with healing, age, and activity.
Herb Dosage For Dogs
The above herbs are all sold for human use, so if you choose a single herb from this list to give to your dog, assume the recommended dose is for a 150 lb human and adjust it for your dog’s body weight.
How To Protect Your Dog’s Joints
Here are some other factors to keep in mind to help avoid arthritis in your dog.
A sedentary lifestyle Is responsible for joint issues more than 70% of the time. Is your dog a weekend warrior? If you’re busy all week and your dog just gets a short leash walk once or twice a day, he won’t be in shape to run and play for long periods of time or hike a mountain on the weekend. That’s when a lot of injuries happen. His weekend activities over-stress his joints and cause an inflammatory response.
Food plays a major role as well. Commercial diets with a lack of whole food nutrition don’t provide the necessary building blocks to support the musculoskeletal system. Processed foods create heat and inflammation due to synthetic as well as genetically modified (GMO) and starchy ingredients. Processed food is not digested well and will create inflammation in the body.
You can substantially improve your dog’s mobility with balanced whole food nutrition. Add some joint supplements to your dog’s daily diet as well.
RELATED: How to get your dog on a raw diet …
Age And Weight
As your dog starts to slow down he’ll naturally be exercising less. Fewer, shorter, and slower walks mean he needs fewer calories. It’s important to monitor your dog’s meals and treats to avoid adding extra weight that can lead to increased stress and inflammation on his joints. Moderate exercise will maintain muscle mass and joint flexibility … but too much exercise can cause further stress to joints and tendons. If your dog is arthritic or has a cruciate tear or hip dysplasia, don’t encourage him to jump or stand on his back legs.
Avoid exposing your dog to toxins like …
- Genetically modified foods
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Chemical flea, tick or heartworm prevention
- Heavy metals
- Lawn chemicals
If you ever use any of these, try to switch to natural remedies and consider using a detox supplement to cleanse your dog’s system.
If your dog suffers from arthritis or joint issues, try these joint-protective measures and use herbs to give significant relief and improved quality of life, without the harmful, long-term side effects of prescription drugs.