If your dog gets up slowly, appears stiff or lame, reluctantly climbs stairs, or has trouble jumping in the car, he could have arthritis. Because these are symptoms of other problems (like hip dysplasia or Lyme disease), a visit to a veterinarian is the first step.
While some dogs remain agile to their final days, others develop arthritic symptoms within a few years. A major cause of lameness, osteoarthritis of the hip joint can cause the gradual development of joint pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion. Loss of mobility can adversely affect a dog’s personality, vitality, and behavior. But you can help.
For us—as well as our four-legged friends—diet and exercise are important factors in staying well. Obesity is the primary nutritional disease in dogs, so helping your pet stay slim by providing her with a healthy, wholesome (preferably organic) diet is critical. You’ll find a range of high-quality dog foods in many natural products stores. Home-cooked meals are also nutritious—as long as you avoid foods that can aggravate arthritis, such as produce from the nightshade family (eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes), as well as cheese, corn, processed meats, and wheat.
Supplements for Pets
Enhanced digestion may support increased mobility, so digestive enzymes like bromelain and papain can assist in the absorption of nutrients and essential fatty acids from the diet. Consider adding cod liver oil to your dog’s diet, as this may be helpful for arthritis.
Anti-inflammatories (including turmeric, boswellia, feverfew, wheatgrass, celery seed, and cayenne) can help your dog experience welcome pain relief and joint support.
“Glucosamine is great for building cartilage and connective tissue back on the joints,” says Earl Mindell, RPh, PhD. “Start with 500 mg per day for all sizes of dogs and, if needed, increase to 500 mg twice a day.” Be aware that it may take a few months for this supplement to take effect. Vitamin C (as part of a daily dog multivitamin/mineral or added to food as powder) helps protect cartilage from further deterioration.
Go the Extra Mile
Besides providing your dog with a healthy diet, natural supplements, and moderate exercise, some additional support is available to help special needs pets perform everyday activities. Visit www.handicappedpets.com for information, resources, and products that can be invaluable for arthritic pets, including steps and ramps, carts, harnesses, and more.