The aging process is a natural process that occurs in all animals. Aging does not affect only one organ or body system but affects all organs and body functions. Dogs, unlike most other species have undergone a large degree of selective breeding, this adds to the regular wear and tear associated with the aging process itself rendering some breeds of dogs more prone to changes that come with age faster. Mobility is a perfect example of this where older dogs that are also from larger breeds may exhibit hip and joint and overall mobility problems earlier than others.
As your dog ages he will feel more aches and pains associated with his aging joints with even the simplest of daily activities. You can help control pain in dogs and reduce soreness and tenderness in joints by implementing a proactive plan to feed high quality foods to help maintain a good healthy weight and use supplements to help 1) support hip and joint health 2) manage pain in dogs if it occurs associated with normal daily activities and 3) reduce pain in dogs that have developed or are developing hip and joint problems.
According to the Novartis Animal Health website, Arthritis - a word that means inflammation of a joint—occurs in both people and dogs with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being the types seen most often in the clinic. Like the OA that affects people, osteoarthritis in dogs (canine osteoarthritis) is an inflammation in one or more joints that affects approximately one of every five adult dogs. Joints such as hips, elbows and knees are especially prone to osteoarthritis.
If OA isn’t detected and controlled, a vicious cycle of pain and disability occurs. Damage to cartilage—a rubbery, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in joints—triggers inflammation as the tissue tries to repair itself. This inflammation causes pain, which can lead to a decrease in exercise and, in turn, to a loss in muscle tone and strength. Less exercise combined with muscle loss can lead to weight problems or obesity, which can increase stress on the damaged joint and more cartilage breakdown. Joint cartilage breakdown, inflammation and pain are often present before obvious signs of a problem are noticed. Since OA cannot be cured, it’s very important to spot the subtle signs of OA pain in your dog and intervene as early as possible.
Again pain is a constant whether the dog is simply going through the normal aging process or if an actual medical problem such as OA exists. In addition to regular veterinary screening for your dog, you should also be proactive and not wait until the pain becomes so much that the quality of life is impacted.
According to the Arthritis Foundation some of the classic signs of hip and joint problems in dogs include:
- Favoring a limb
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Sleeping more
- Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
- Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
- Weight gain
- Decreased activity or less interest in play
- Attitude or behavior changes
- Being less alert
Therapies for dogs may include:
- Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
- Working with a veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs.
- Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
- Proactive use of supplements that help maintain the health of hips and joints and reduce your dog’s pain that maybe present even if outward clinical signs of a disease state are not.
Medications designed for humans should never be given to dogs or cats. Certain medications can be toxic to pets – particularly acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin – and a safe dose will differ between a given breed, e.g., greyhound and a dachshund or species.
The active constituents include:
- Fish Oil: Contains many constituents, the most well-known are the polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and EPA. Fish Oil has many beneficial natural anti-inflammatory and metabolic functions.
- Willow Bark Extract: Willow Bark contains phenolic glycosides, including salicin, salicortin, salireposide, picein and triandrin. Up to 20% of willow bark consists of Tannins. It also contains catechins and flavonoids. Willow bark has been used for centuries as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer.
- Cat’s Claw Root Extract: Containing, Indole alkaloids, triterpene, saponins and flavonoids. This herb has been shown to have natural anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and immune modulatory actions.
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3) Schmid, B., Ludtke, R., Selbmann, H. K., Kotter, I., Tschirdewahn, B., Schaffner, W., and Heide, L. Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized willow bark extract in patients with osteoarthritis: randomized placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial. Phytother Res 2001;15(4):344-350.
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