The following informational material is supplied by a certified Master Herbalist and Canine Nutritionist with The Pet Health and Nutrition Center to provide you with a better understanding of arthritis in dogs and cats that will help give you the confidence to approach this condition in a safer and more natural manner.

l. What is Arthritis?

As our companions age they may begin to suffer from pain and discomfort caused by damage to, or deterioration of, joint cartilage. The changes in the joint are often referred to as arthritis, and in animals osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is the most common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic, slowly progressing condition that is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage surrounding a joint. As the deterioration progresses the bony structures that make up the joint will begin to rub against one another causing pain and discomfort. Although inflammation occurs in degenerative joint disease, it occurs to a lesser extent than the other major type of arthritis called Inflammatory Arthritis in which large amounts of fluid, protein, and white blood cells enter the joint.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of osteoarthritis will vary as to which joints are involved, the age and size of the dog, and the severity of the disease. In general, some of the first signs you may notice are that your canine gets up slowly or appears stiff after lying down, becomes hesitant or unable to jump in the car or go up and down stairs or your feline may no longer jump up on the counter or furniture. You may notice an altered gait that appears stiff or shifts weight to unaffected limbs which may result in muscle atrophy (reduction in the size of the muscle) in the affected limb because the dog is using it less, or at least putting less weight on it. Osteoarthritis of the hips may result in the muscles of the chest and shoulders increasing in size because the dog is putting more weight on the front legs.

Other signs of arthritis depend on the amount of pain the dog is experiencing, and may include changes in appetite and behavior. For example, an animal may become more finicky, may isolate himself more often or become short tempered. Because of their discomfort some dogs may lick or bite at the area that is painful, seek warmth and soft places to sleep.

ll. Causes of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis can occur as a result of wear and tear on an otherwise normal joint as the dog ages, called primary osteoarthritis or as a result of injury or another condition being present, such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia, which is called secondary osteoarthritis.

In our experience nutrition plays a large role. This is because protein is very important for the maintenance and repair of tissue in the body including muscle, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Because of the low protein often found in processed kibble pet foods, and the use of incomplete proteins like pea protein, our animals do not receive the proper amount of high-quality protein they require in their diets.

Our own dogs, fed whole food raw diets, did not have problems with arthritis. This is opposed to many of our customers whose dogs are showing signs of arthritis at very young ages. This is completely related to a poor, low-protein diet and is the cause of joint deterioration for most companion animals. If you feed a processed, kibble diet, your dog or cat will suffer with arthritis at some point in their lives. This can be completely avoided by feeding a whole food diet, either cooked or raw, as well as providing a joint supplement as insurance beginning at a young age.

On a different note, Inflammatory Joint Disease can be caused by infections, such as lyme disease, or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is more common in people.

lll. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach

Unfortunately many veterinarians do not see the connection of joint deterioration with processed pet food diets. They see theses diets, some of which they offer, as being complete and balanced. However, the length of pet food trials is relatively short and the long term effects of feeding these diets is not well known.

Because of this they feel that arthritis is just a common result of getting older. This belief is a result of their allopathic/western medicine training and does a great disservice to their clients. A diet using high-quality protein is the most important element in keeping your animals strong and healthy and maintaining the health of their joints, and will not be found in any kibble pet food.

Because of their training, a visit to the veterinarian will likely result in a prescription for drugs that inhibit the immune system to reduce inflammation in the body. These drugs, like corticosteroids and NSAIDs, attempt to suppress symptoms but do little to help repair damaged tissue or prevent further deterioration of the joint. At the same time they pose serious risks of side effects that include liver damage, kidney disease, suppressed immune system, decrease in joint cartilage over time (because they unbelievably interfere with the uptake of nutrients by cartilage) and gastrointestinal ulceration. We recommend their use be reserved until all other means of treatment have been exhausted and the animal is still showing signs of pain.

lV. Holistic Natural Protocol Goal

The goal of our natural protocol differs in large part from that of your veterinarian. We share your vet's goal in trying to reduce inflammation and increase the comfort of your dog or cat, though in a safer, more natural way. However, we also strongly believe in providing your animal with the nutrition necessary to maintain or increase joint cartilage and other tissue in the body. In doing this our goal is to not only make your dog or cat more comfortable, but also to rebuild cartilage along with tendons, ligaments and muscle that work together to maintain the strength and stability of your animal's joints.

V. Holistic Natural Arthritis Protocol

Core Recommendations

Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Natural Arthritis Protocol. They consist of the supplement recommendations we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. If you desire more individualized attention please feel free to use our Consultation Form to provide detailed information about your dog or cat so we can better help you.

Natural Supplement for Dogs with Arthritis

  Core Recommendation #1 - Daily Multi Plus

Our Daily Multi Plus is formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to an animal's nutritional needs but are often missing from the majority of canine and feline diets. This special formula provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for this condition - only in an organic, whole food form!

Elik Velvet Antler for Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

  Core Recommendation #2 - Elk Velvet Antler

Elk velvet antler is an all-natural, whole food joint supplement that contains all of the most researched joint nutrients in one supplement. Glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, hyaluronic acid plus vitamins and minerals are all found in their natural form. Elk velvet antler is far superior to other manufactured joint supplements because the nutrients are very bioavailable to the body and easily utilized by joint tissue.

In addition, elk velvet antler contains IGF growth factors that help promote the healing of tissue. These growth factors can have an amazing effect on older or debilitated animals as they can be very rejuvenating while promoting an increase in lean muscle mass and joint cartilage growth. We have had great success with this product and it is highly recommended.

Pain Relief Herbal Formula for Dog and Cat Arthritis

  Core Recommendation #3 - Pain Relief Formula

This effective formula is made with USDA organic herbs and organic vegetable glycerin and is quick and easy to provide to your dog (this formula is for dogs only). It has been formulated by a certified Master Herbalist using time-honored herbs that will help to reduce pain and inflammation safely without the side-effects associated with NSAIDs and other medications.

Highly Recommended

Best Diet for Dog with Arthritis

  Whole Food Nutrition

With a serious condition like Arthritis, in which the body needs the highest value nutrition possible to repair damaged tissue and balance the inflammatory process, we highly recommend a raw food diet. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This is, unfortunately, the opposite of how most pets are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates.

In addition, kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing your pet needs at this point. Since lean muscle can be lost as part of the aging process, without the right nutrition that is easily digested, absorbed and metabolized your animal will have a more difficult time getting better. If a raw food diet is not your cup of tea, the next best thing would be a cooked, whole food diet. There are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat. For more information read our articles How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.

Systemic Enzymes Arthritis Remedy for Dogs and Cats

  Systemic Enzymes

Systemic enzymes are a favorite natural remedy of ours because of their wide range of health benefits. In the case of arthritis this special blend of enzymes help break down plasma proteins and cellular debris at the site of injury into smaller fragments. This greatly facilitates their passage through the lymphatic system, resulting in more rapid resolution of swelling, with the consequent relief of pain and discomfort in the bones and joints affected.

Chia Seed Oil for Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

  Chia Seed Oil  

Omega 3's are anti-inflammatory as opposed to inflammatory omega 6's and 9's found in grains and factory farmed meat (used in most pet food). Chia seed oil is the best plant-based source of the essential omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) while fish oil is a good source of EPA & DHA omega 3 fatty acids. However, it is important to choose your supplement wisely. Chia seed oil is cold-pressed from sustainable, organic chia seeds so it is our favorite source of omega 3 fatty acids. Fish oil can be contaminated because of our oceans, but is a favorite for some looking for a good source of EPA and DHA. Because of potential toxicity of fish oil you should purchase a well known and highly respected brand. Nordic Naturals produces the finest fish oil in its natural triglyceride form, which studies have shown is the preferred form of fish oil.

Biopreparation for Dog and Cat Arthritis

  Biopreparation Microalgae Formula

This special blend of four unique algae was developed by a Russian Scientist, Dr. Michael Kiriac after decades of research. It is grown in controlled hydroponic conditions so it is the purest microalgae supplement on the planet. Its thousand of nutrients are so bioavailable they do not have to be digested, they easily pass through the digestive tract and feed cells on a cellular level. BioPreparation can cross the blood brain barrier to feed the brain, support the hypothalamus to help balance the entire endocrine system and even cross the blood retinal barrier to nurture the eyes. We have had outstanding success with this product so it is highly recommended. Start with the F2 Core and we can consider moving to the F3 Forte in the future.

Don't Forget Weight Control and Exercise!

Excess weight puts extra strain on already deteriorating joints and can cause an increase in discomfort, a reduction in activity and acceleration in the disease process. Gentle exercise will benefit the arthritic animal by helping with: weight maintenance, maintaining muscular integrity around the joint, stabilizing the joint and improving and maintaining overall conditioning.

Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats with Arthritis

Elk Velvet Antler for Dogs and Cats
Elk Velvet Antler for dogs and cats is an all-natural, whole food joint supplement that contains the nutrients most respected for joint health and pain reduction. Elk velvet antler is a natural, whole food source of glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate,...
from $28.95
Collagen for Dogs and Cats
Collagen for dogs and cats is comprised of hydrolyzed collagen peptides that provide both types I and III collagen which are major components of skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, gums, teeth, eyes and blood vessels. This is the...
Bovine Cartilage for Dogs and Cats
Our Bovine Cartilage for dogs and cats provides type II collagen as well as other important cartilage supporting nutrients like chondroitin sulfate. This supplement will help to support tissue called hyaline cartilage that is widespread in the body and found...
Systemic Enzyme Formula for Dogs
Our Systemic Enzyme Formula for dogs is a unique enzyme blend developed to help relieve a number of very common imbalances your canine may experience during the course of his lifetime. Systemic enzymes are taken between meals providing anti-inflammatory, detoxifying,...
from $19.95
Pain Relief for Dogs
Pain Relief for dogs is an easy to use herbal remedy that is formulated to support healthy inflammation levels* with the most effective pain relieving herbs in western herbal medicine. Formulated by a certified Master Herbalist, this formula is made...
from $25.95
Glucosamine Sulfate for Dogs and Cats
Our Pharmaceutical Grade Glucosamine Sulfate is the finest and purest glucosamine supplement you can give your dog or cat. It is also the most researched joint nutrient available with over 300 studies, and the most easily and completely utilized form...
from $19.95
Elk Velvet Antler with Glucosamine for Dogs and Cats
Elk Velvet Antler with Glucosamine Sulfate blends pharmaceutical grade glucosamine sulfate with elk velvet antler. We have created this joint supplement blend for those wishing to use elk velvet antler for their dog or cat but for budgetary reasons would...
from $24.95
Turmeric Root for Dogs and Cats
Turmeric Root for dogs and cats is an herbal formula with many beneficial uses. The active constituent curcumin that is found in turmeric has shown promising results in numerous studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-tumor and immune supporting qualities that...
from $25.95
Daily Multi Plus for Dogs and Cats
Our Daily Multi Plus is a premier supplement for dogs and cats featuring organic, whole food nutrition. This 3-supplements-in-1 formula was created in response to our clients’ requests to simplify their animal’s supplement regimen and is sure to exceed even...
from $26.95
Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet
Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement for Pets provides the health-promoting and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA derived from 100% wild anchovies and sardines exclusively from the Norwegian Sea to the Southern Pacific Ocean depending on their...
from $16.95
Chia Seed Oil for Dogs and Cats
Organic Chia Seed Oil for dogs and cats is the perfect choice for providing omega-3 fatty acids from an organic, sustainable source. Chia seed oil has become our preferred method for supplying anti-inflammatory, essential omega-3 fatty acids(1) that are very...
Licorice Root for Dogs and Cats
Licorice Root for dogs and cats is a natural, herbal remedy beneficial for numerous health challenges your pet may experience. Licorice contains a constituent called glycyrrhizin that has similar properties to the adrenal cortex hormones such as cortisol. Because of...
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