Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Dogs get arthritis for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is a degenerative issue, like old-age, injury or excessive wear-and-tear; sometimes it can be an autoimmune response (Immune-mediated Polyarthritis), as with humans.
Whatever type of arthritis your dog is suffering from, there are ways to ensure that your best friend can have a more active, less sedentary lifestyle.
BE MORE ACTIVE & HAVE A LESS SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
The studies are in, the key to managing arthritis is regular exercise. Studies have proved this in humans, and the same is true for dogs.
This doesn't mean pushing your dog up the side of a mountain which will only do more damage, but it does mean regular, gentle exercise and movement. If you have a dog that is suffering badly from arthritis, a gentle thirty minute amble on a flat incline will do the trick, or a good walk around the local dog park. If you can, twice a day is ideal, even for a shorter period of time. However once a day will go a long way to keeping your dog's already sore joints from seizing up.
If your dog is an avid swimmer, then you are in luck - swimming is a great exercise for dogs with arthritis, providing light resistance and movement, while simultaneously taking most of the weight off their joints. Whatever you do, avoid exercise that is high impact and will cause unnecessary wear and tear. What you want to do is maintain muscle strength and density, ensuring that muscle atrophy doesn't add further stress to sore joints.
Try targeted exercises
As with humans, there are specific exercises that will help maintain strength and mobility for your dog. On a rainy day when you can't get out for a walk, or even just as a regular part of your daily routine, your dog can do a series of exercises that focuses on the areas of the body that take the greater part of their weight and use. The doggy version of squats, if you will. Remember, even for your dog, it is important to warm up and take things slowly at first to prevent strain or injury.
MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS GETTING A WELL-ROUNDED DIET
It's vital that your dog gets the nutrients it needs to combat arthritis, both rheumatoid and autoimmune related . There are foods that will directly benefit any dog that has arthritis. When approaching your dog's diet, there are three steps to take:
Ensure your dog is not eating a lot of processed & unhealthy grains in their food. You will find these grains as a bulk filler in most off-the shelf dry dog foods. Try and ensure that their food is free of preservatives and additives that are common to store bought dog foods. All of these things will cause inflammation in your dog.
Focus on foods that have the correct fats for your dog. Most types of fish are great. Also good is Hemp Seed, which has the perfect Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio ( 3:1 ) of fatty acids required for dogs.
Add as many natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods as you can to your dog's diet. These include the fresh fruits and vegetables it is safe for your dog to eat. Blueberries are a potent antioxidant, as are many spices, like Cinnamon, Ginger and Turmeric, all of which are also strong anti-inflammatories. We include all of these spices in our cookies.
As far as supplements go, in our Joint & Pain Management Drops we include, and can recommend the following:
Green Lipped Mussels are high in unique fatty acids, found in no other animal or plant. They are also rich in chondroitin, glucosamine, magnesium and zinc, making them a natural anti-inflammatory. They are used to reduce pain and stimulate appetite.
Like mussels, shark cartilage is high in glucosamine and chondroitin. Both are critical building blocks for the growth of bone and cartilage, and give shark cartilage strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Ginger is full of compounds and metabolites which are good for the health of both people and dogs, and it relieves the symptoms of inflammation in both the digestive tract and in joints.
Celery is rich in vitamins A, C, and K; folate, potassium, and manganese. Even more importantly, Celery contains the phytochemical Luteolin, which is a strong anti-inflammatory.
Rosehip is a potent antioxidant, and another natural, plant based anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric has powerful, clinically proven anti-inflammatory properties, and is a potent antioxidant. Studies have shown it reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, and has a strong positive effect on both digestive and joint inflammation conditions.
It is often not widely known, but a little bit of pepper makes Turmeric stay for longer in the system, and lets it do its work that little bit more effectively.
White Willow Bark is a strong analgesic, and has been used to treat pain for thousands of years. It acts a lot like, and is closely related to aspirin - however unlike aspirin, it is all natural!
Boswellia is another powerful anti-inflammatory, and highly beneficial for dogs suffering from joint pain or arthritis. It also promotes gut health, is an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and promotes healthy skin.
FOR DOGS WITH IMMUNE-MEDIATED POLYARTHRITIS
If your dog is suffering from an immune-related arthritis, then you need to focus on their digestive tract health, and fix any 'leaky-gut' issues that are prompting the problem. This sort of arthritis is not related to damage or wear-and-tear in any particular joint, and will move around the different parts of your dog's body.
Remember, prebiotic foods are important - oats and apples are two that are good for your dog. And as with humans, never forget how important fibre is to the overall health and function of your dog's digestive tract.
So while aging is something for which there is no cure, there are ways to ensure that your beloved dog, with the proper diet and exercise, can live a rich and rewarding life for as long as possible.