7 ways to beat dog arthritis

By  Sherman O. Canapp Jr., DVM, MS, CCRT and Lisa M. Fair, VT, CCRA, CMT and comments by diane weinmann

With early intervention and a multi-faceted treatment plan, you can help get the better of the common condition of arthritis.

If your dog has arthritis, he has lots of company. It’s the most common joint disease in canines. One in every five dogs older than a year is affected, and by the time a dog is ten or older, that incidence has increased to one in two.

Managing osteoarthritis (OA) often involves the palliative treatment of well-established disease using just a few therapies. But early intervention, coupled with a multimodal treatment regime, could do a lot more to reduce the effects of this prevalent disease.

  1. Diet and supplements

Nutrition plays a role in developmental skeletal disease. An excess of specific nutrients can exacerbate musculoskeletal disorders, and fast-growing, large breed puppies are at particular risk. For these dogs, controlled growth, optimum levels of calcium, phosphorus and essential fatty acids, and specific nutrients to enhance development are all essential to reduce the risk of developmental skeletal disease. In all dogs, providing proper nutrition during growth, and maintaining a healthy weight through life, can help minimize OA.

Diets that include or are supplemented with these nutrients may reduce inflammation, slow degradation, enhance cartilage repair and provide relief from discomfort:

  • EPA and DHA, two components of Omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation and reduce pain associated with OA. EPA suppresses the enzymes associated with cartilage destruction.
  • Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a primary component of joint cartilage. It may influence cartilage structure and restore synovial fluid. GAGs may aid in the prevention of OA.
  • Chondrotin sulfate is an important structural component of cartilage and helps it resist compression. It may reduce inflammation, stimulate synthesis of proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, and decrease catabolic activity.
  • ASUs (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables) help protect cartilage from degradation. Studies have shown a synergy when glucosamine hydrochloride, chondrotin sulfate and AUS are combined. They help inhibit the expression of agents involved in cartilage breakdown.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) may have anti-inflammatory effects. Research suggests there may be increased benefits when MSM is combined with glucosamine and chondrotin.
  • SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine) can reduce discomfort associated with OA. Some studies even found it to be as effective for relieving pain as NSAIDs.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals can contribute to degenerative joint disease. Vitamin E inhibits oxidation, but the levels must be higher than minimal requirements to achieve these benefits.
  • Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant activity. Although dogs can synthesize enough to meet minimal requirements, supplementation may improve antioxidant performance. It is important to note that vitamin C supplementation can contribute to calcium oxalate crystal formation in susceptible dogs.
  • DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) is a natural amino acid used to treat chronic pain. It inhibits several enzymes responsible for the destruction of endorphins, pain-killing hormones. DLPA can be used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • Traumeel is a homeopathic formulation of 12 botanical substances and one mineral substance. It is purported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and anti-exudative properties. Traumeel is often used as an alternative to NSAIDs.
  • GLM (green-lipped mussel) contains anti-inflammatory components that may benefit joint health. Clinical studies of GLM powder added to diets showed it to be effective in reducing symptoms.
  • Several herbs have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, including boswellia, yucca root, turmeric, hawthorn, nettle leaf, licorice, meadowsweet and willow bark. Consult with a veterinarian experienced in using herbs.
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and decrease inflammation within the joint. Specifically, it increases joint fluid viscosity, increases cartilage (GAG) formation, and decreases degrading enzymes and cytokines. Over 70% of dogs have been reported to respond well to HA and improvement can be noted for over six months following administration. My clinical impression is that HA used alone is useful for synovitis and mild to moderate OA.
  1. Weight management and exercise

Obesity is a known risk factor for OA. Dogs with excess weight should be placed on a diet management program, which may include food and treat restriction, a change of diet, exercise and behavior modification. Weight management alone may result in significant clinical improvement.

Light to moderate low impact exercise is recommended to reduce stiffness and maintain joint mobility. Specific exercise requirements vary based on the individual dog, but short walks (15 to 20 minutes) two to three times daily are typically recommended. Swimming is an excellent low impact activity that can improve muscle mass and joint range of motion. Consistency is critical – exercise should be performed on a routine basis. Excessive and/ or high impact exercise should be avoided.

  1. Acupuncture and chiropractic

Dogs have approximately 360 acupuncture points throughout their bodies. Response varies, with some dogs showing significant improvements in discomfort and mobility. Some experience no obvious benefits and a few do not tolerate needling. Consulting a veterinarian trained in TCVM provides the best chance of successful treatment. TCVM can help with weight management as well as joint issues.

Chiropractic can improve comfort and mobility in dogs with OA. These dogs often develop improper spinal biomechanics secondary to gait changes. Adjustments can restore proper bony relationships and re-set receptors responsible for maintaining correct posture, balance and mobility.

  1. Rehabilitation therapy

This may be used in conjunction with other therapies. In some cases of mild to moderate OA, it may actually eliminate the need for additional medical therapies. The goals of rehabilitation therapy for dogs with OA include pain relief, maintaining or building muscle strength, flexibility, and joint range of motion, core strengthening and overall conditioning.

  • Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. It benefits dogs with acute exacerbation of chronic arthritis.
  • Heat therapy causes vasodilation. It reduces muscle tension and spasm, improves flexibility of joint capsules and surrounding tendons and ligaments, and provides pain relief.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) reduces pain. It stimulates large cutaneous nerve fibers that transmit sensory impulses faster than pain fibers. TENS also increases the release of endorphins, which block pain perception.
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) involves the stimulation of muscle fibers for strengthening. Dogs with OA typically lose muscle mass due to weakness and disuse. NMES may help minimize atrophy, and provide proprioceptive, kinesthetic and sensory input directly to the muscle as well as give pain relief.
  • Therapeutic ultrasound (TUS) uses sound energy to affect biological tissues. It provides deep heating of tissues and can increase blood flow, collagen extensibility, metabolic rate and pain thresholds. It can also decrease muscle spasm.
  • Low level laser therapy (LLLT) may have positive effects on injured cartilage and may also reduce pain.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) uses sound waves characterized by a rapid and steep rise in pressure followed by a period of negative pressure. Mechanical and chemical effects on a cellular level may stimulate healing and modulate pain signals.
  • Manual modalities:

Stretching – Most dogs with arthritis have some inflexibility due to shortened muscles and joint restriction. Performing gentle passive range of motion therapy and stretching can increase overall range of motion. Heat therapy applied prior to these therapies enables collagen fibers to be maximally stretched.

Joint mobilization – May help improve joint range of motion and decrease pain in dogs with mild to moderate OA. It involves low-velocity movements within or at the limit of the dog’s range of motion.

Massage – Decreases myofascial pain, adhesion formation and muscle tension, and increases vascular and lymphatic circulation. Can help reduce edema, improve blood flow, decrease muscle stiffness and improve muscle flexibility and joint mobility.

  • Therapeutic exercises can be of significant benefit. Most dogs with OA have moderate to severe muscle atrophy and loss of motion within affected joints. Therapeutic exercises maintain and rebuild muscle mass, strengthen muscle force, maintain and improve joint range of motion and overall function and conditioning.
  • Hydrotherapy includes underwater treadmill and swim therapy. It encourages range of motion, and improves muscle tone and mass with reduced stress to joints and tissues. Hydrotherapy can help relieve pain, swelling and stiffness, improve muscle mass and tone, increase joint range of motion, and improve circulation.
  1. Regenerative medicine therapy
  2. a) Stem cell therapy

Published literature supports the use of stem cell therapy (SCT) to treat OA in dogs. Most veterinary research has focused on adult stem cells, specifically mesenchymal stem cells. MSCs decrease pro-inflammatory and increase anti-inflammatory mediators.

  1. b) Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

The concentrated platelets found in PRP contain bioactive proteins and growth factors. These work by binding to cell surface receptors and activating intra-cellular signaling cascades. They promote cell proliferation, cell migration and differentiation, and work as antiinflammatory factors counteracting the inflammatory cytokines at work in arthritis.

SCT and PRP are often administered together.

6. Assistive devices

These provide assistance with mobility. Booties can provide traction for slippery surfaces. Orthotics provide support to joints and can improve comfort. Slings and harnesses can be used to assist dogs when rising, walking, climbing stairs and during elimination. Carts provide independent mobility for dogs that have difficulty walking.

7. Conventional medications – NSAIDs and corticosteroids

NSAIDs have been the conventional foundation for treating symptoms of arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties. However, serious adverse effects can occur, especially with chronic use. These most commonly include gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic and coagulation disorders. The goal is to use the minimal effective dose when other treatments are not successful.

In the treatment of severe arthritis, an intra-articular corticosteroid may be beneficial.

It can provide pain relief for end-stage osteoarthritis. Response to treatment is typically seen within a week and benefits may last a year or more.

Once established, canine osteoarthritis is incurable. But if joint problems are diagnosed early on, and managed with a range of integrative therapies, you can help stave off the debilitating effects of arthritis, and that means greater longevity and quality of life.

As an animal communicator and holistic healer for pets, Diane Weinmann recommends NuJoint Plus and NuJoint DS (double stuff) for a dog who has arthritis.   Here is some information regarding the product below:

NuJoint Plus® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support

 

MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health.. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint discomfort can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.

Ingredients

Glucosamine Sulfate 250 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 125 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 125 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver

 

Recommended Daily Dosage

 

 Daily Dosage

Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.

 

NuJoint DS® K-9 Wafers

Hip and Joint Support

MSM supplies biologically active sulfur to animals’ joints. Use of MSM has been shown to reduce the rigidity of cells in the soft tissues of the body. By reducing this rigidity, fluids are able to pass more freely from the cell and this helps to reduce cell pressure.

Glucosamine provides the joints with the building blocks needed to for good health. Acting as a catalyst, Glucosamine helps animals synthesize new cartilage caused by wear and tear. Hip and joint issues can happen when normal wear and tear break down cartilage.

Chondroitin attracts and holds fluid within cartilage tissue helping to lubricate joints and increase mobility. Chondroitin neutralizes the destructive enzymes that are known to damage and destroy cartilage. Chondroitin aids the entry of Glucosamine which is the building block of healthy joints.

Vitamin C plays a vital role by supporting immune function, helping white blood cells function normally, and it also promotes cartilage growth and tissue repair. Aging dogs may especially benefit as they become less proficient at producing their own supply of vitamin C.

Ingredients

Glucosamine Sulfate 500 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate 250 mg
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 250 mg
50 mg Vitamin C (Ester-C®) 50 mg

Flavored with Real Chicken Liver

 

Recommended Daily Dosage

Daily Dosage Pets Weight
1/2 to 1 wafer under 10 lbs
1 wafer 10-24 lbs
2 wafers 25-49 lbs
3 wafers 50-100 lbs
4 wafers over 100 lbs

To jump-start your pet’s immune health and provide maximum support, please contact our Customer Service department for additional dosage recommendations.

CALL NOW TO ORDER

800-474-7044

Order Code: 82416

or click here

https://www.nuvetlabs.com/order_new2/nujoint.asp

Untreated Types of Pain in Dogs

Untreated Types of Pain in Dogs

 

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

The practice of scoring pain is almost exclusively a human medicine tool. A doctor or nurse asks a patient to rate the pain he or she is experiencing with a number, for example, 0 to 10, with 0 indicating no pain, and 10 signifying excruciating pain.

Sadly, the veterinary community has been slow to follow suit. In fact, I regularly have pet parents tell me their vets won’t administer pain medications after surgeries or accidents, even when the client demands them. It breaks my heart that so many animals suffer needlessly, and it infuriates me that doctors who take an oath to relieve suffering fail to do so.

Assessing Pain in Canine Patients

In veterinary medicine, our canine patients can’t tell us in words how much they’re hurting, so pain scoring must be done primarily through observation. It can be used not only with dogs who’ve had surgery, but also any pet dealing with an injury or illness. Since every animal is an individual with a specific pain threshold, to use pain scoring effectively, we must observe the dog before painkillers are given and before any procedure is attempted, no matter how minor (e.g., a blood draw).

We also need to apply some science to the art of observation when determining a dog’s pain score. We need to know average pain levels for the condition the animal has or the surgery about to be performed, and factor those into the equation. This is necessary because many dogs are stoic even when in significant pain.

Pet Pain Scales

Pain scales such as Colorado State University’s (CSU) below are intended for use by veterinarians and their staffs, but they can also be helpful for pet parents who want to learn what signs to look for to determine if their dog might be in pain.1

Pain score: 0 No pain present. The patient is happy, acts normally, moves comfortably, has a normal appetite and (if applicable) does not bother the surgery site. TPR (temperature) is normal.
Pain score: 1 Mild pain present. This is usually displayed by a slight limp, difficulty getting up or down or a slight increase in TPR. The patient is eating, tail wagging and not depressed.
Pain score: 2 Moderate pain present. The patient shows sensitivity and may lick or chew at the surgical site or wound. The patient may refuse to eat and may seem depressed, and has slow, shallow respirations.
Pain score: 3 Severe pain present. Signs include depression, reluctance to move and sensitivity at the surgical site or wound. The patient will usually not eat, may vocalize and may lie down but not sleep.
Pain score: 4 Excruciating pain present. The patient shows all the signs described with a pain score of 3, in addition to intermittent panting, increased TPR — even at rest — constant vocalizing, profound depression, dilated pupils, aggressiveness and deep breathing.

To view the full detailed CSU pain scales, which include rough drawings of how your dog might appear with a pain score of 0, 1, etc.: Canine Pain Scale.

Signs to Watch for at Home

Determining if your pet is hurting is all about picking up subtle cues. Generally speaking, a cat in pain will make herself scarce, whereas a hurting dog is often a dog with a sad or tense expression. Canines don’t typically whine or cry unless they are in tremendous pain, so here are some other signs to keep an eye out for:2

Lack or loss of appetite Not greeting you as usual
Trembling/shivering Crouching
Not bearing weight on a leg Taking longer than usual to urinate or defecate
Reluctance to climb up or down stairs Excessive panting

What to Do if You Think Your Dog Is in Pain

How your canine companion’s pain is managed depends on what’s causing it, so it’s crucially important to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a thorough exam. Once your vet has evaluated your dog and depending on the root cause of his discomfort, there are a number of integrative therapies that blend nicely to reduce the amount of medications needed to manage pain, including:

There are also some newer therapies I’ve used with good success, including the Assisi Loop, a form of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. In addition, there are a variety of beneficial supplements you can add to your pet’s diet, again depending on his diagnosis and treatment protocol.

A Type of Pain in Dogs That Often Goes Undiagnosed

Myofascial pain, which is pain in the muscles that results from one or more trigger points, is common in dogs, but because it doesn’t show up on x-rays or other diagnostic tests, it’s often left untreated. The result is that many dogs suffer needlessly with significant, chronic muscle pain.

Trigger points, sometimes described as knots in the muscles, are focal points for inflammation and irritation. They may be in an active or latent phase. In the active phase, a trigger point may be very painful for your pet.

If pressure is applied, pain may radiate from the trigger point to other areas of your dog’s body, such as down the limbs (this is known as referred pain). He may also have latent trigger points that are sensitive, but not as acutely painful as active trigger points. However, even latent trigger points may lead to problems for your dog, including stiffness and restricted range of motion.

Causes of Myofascial Pain

There are many situations that can lead to this type of muscle pain. Some of them may occur suddenly, such as an injury from an unexpected wrenching movement, a fall or a blow to a muscle. Often, however, the development of such pain, and its related trigger points, is gradual.

Just like in humans, dogs may suffer from muscle pain as a result of overuse or muscle imbalance. For example, if your dog runs along a fence every day or favors a back leg due to arthritis, some muscles are being overused and others underused, leading to muscle imbalance and the development of trigger points.

When the pain and related dysfunction becomes chronic, it’s known as myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). Unfortunately, MPS is rarely mentioned in conventional veterinary schools, so it’s often overlooked and left untreated. As veterinarian Dr. Michael Petty notes in his article for dvm360:

“Myofascial pain syndrome is a difficult-to-diagnose and seldom-treated condition in dogs. This is despite the fact that it’s been a recognized pain issue for more than 400 years and entered mainstream human medicine almost 80 years ago. It’s rarely taught in the university setting and there are no books about it.”3

Potential signs of myofascial pain include weakness, muscle tension and stiffness and lameness, or your dog may jump from pain or twitch if you happen to press on a trigger point. Without treatment, trigger points and myofascial pain can turn into a chronic and worsening condition

Treating Myofascial Pain by Relieving Trigger Points

If you suspect your dog is suffering from myofascial pain, see a holistic veterinarian who is experienced at finding trigger points. Once they’ve been located, there are a couple of options for treatment.

One, which is fairly invasive, is dry needling. This involves using an acupuncture needle that is pushed through your pet’s skin to stimulate the trigger point. This may release the tight muscle bands associated with the trigger point, leading to decreased pain and improved function.

Electro-acupuncture and acupressure may also be helpful for some dogs with myofascial pain. Cold laser therapy and ultrasound therapy may be beneficial for dogs that won’t tolerate acupuncture. Another less invasive option is manual manipulation of trigger points using trigger point massage or trigger point therapy. I have found that recurrent trigger point problems can be a result of an underlying chiropractic issue, so if your pet isn’t getting better, consider getting a chiropractic evaluation.

 

Real life experience from Diane Weinmann

My dog Neko went crazy because some dogs tried to put their faces through our fence.  After they left he ran laps around our back yard because he was so over wrought.  Did I mention he’s a husky?  So once I got him inside and calmed down he flopped down and refused to move.  I figured he was tired from all the running but he was hurting.  Eventually he got up and was limping then holding his leg up and walking on 3 legs.  He was also whimpering.  I immediately started performing reiki energy healing and healing touch for animals on him.  I put an ice pack on the muscle on his hip/leg area.  I also gave him CBD oil to help with pain as I continued to reiki/HTA him and ice his leg.  It took approximately 6 hours for him to really stop whimping when he moved but with rest and repeated healings he completely recovered.  I could have also performed acupressure but was afraid to inflict pressure on an already sensitive area.  In hindsight, I should of went ahead and provided acupressure in addition to the reiki/HTA energy healing. Ah well, live and learn –it’s not like he won’t do it again..he’s a HUSKY!