Natural Treatments for Dogs with Arthritis

natural treatments for dogs with arthritis

As animal chiropractors, we see a lot of different conditions walk into our practice.  However, one of the biggest issues we see is arthritis.  Arthritis is particularly tough on a dog’s rear end, but can have whole body effects.  In this article, we want to describe some natural treatments for dogs with arthritis that we use in our practice.

How do we know if our dog has arthritis?  Some of the symptoms associated with the condition are:

  • Slipping and falling on floors
  • Inability to do stairs or to get in and out of a vehicle
  • Difficulty getting up from laying down
  • Difficulty getting comfortable and more

If you see these symptoms, there’s a reasonable chance your dog is dealing with some level of arthritis (although an x-ray will confirm the diagnosis).  Over time, the effects will become more pronounced.  However, there are natural treatments for dogs that can help slow the progression of arthritis and help provide relief.

Chiropractic care

Chiropractic is a great treatment for preventing and providing relief for arthritis.  This is because arthritis is the result of chronic inflammation and abnormal stress on a joint.  Both of these stresses are things chiropractic helps address.  When a joint quits moving well it leads to inflammation and abnormal pressure on the bones that hold a joint together.  Over time, these can contribute to bone spurs and other signs of arthritis that lead to discomfort.  By restoring normal motion, it helps slow the progression of arthritis – and provides relief for any dog already afflicted with it.

Supplements

Supplements are another one of the treatments for dogs with arthritis.  They can help repair damaged joints by providing necessary nutrients that a joint needs in addition to lubricating it.  When it comes to supplements, we tend to recommend fish oil and glucosamine products.

Fish oil has numerous benefits throughout the body, but who would have suspected benefits for arthritis?  We wouldn’t, but after reading through a few veterinary rehabilitation books it was noted multiple times in clinical trials.  The belief is that the anti-inflammatory effects are in part responsible, but there are probably other factors in play.  You can find fish oil at local pet stores or online.  We recommend a pump bottle fish oil since it recommends the dose per weight.  You can also add a turmeric supplement for additional inflammation support.

We also like to add glucosamine as one of the treatments for dogs with arthritis.  You can even begin adding joint supplements earlier in life to help prevent the progression of arthritis as well.  We tend to recommend holistic, more natural sources for joint health.  Brands we like are Super SnoutsWapiti LabsWholistic HealthConnectin, and other brands with similar ingredient panels.

Additional Products

For dogs that slip a lot in the house, we recommend runners.  When a dog is slipping in a house, they aren’t able to grip the ground correctly. This will lead to muscle atrophy over time since they aren’t able to use their muscles correctly.  In addition to runners, you can add additional items.  Dr. Buzby’s toegrips can make a difference or products such as Valfrid dog pads can help.   I tend to prefer gripping devices that aren’t a full sock design because the paw still needs air flow.  If you can change the sock periodically throughout the day, the Gripper brand may do the trick.

We also like to recommend pet stairs or ramps for getting into cars or getting up and down off furniture.  When it comes to choosing a product, part of it will depend on the size of your dog etc.  You certainly want something stable.  Pet Gear makes a portable option that can be used in the house for furniture and at the car.  They have multiple options worth considering.  Looking for something a little more aesthetically pleasing?  Check out Best Dog Supplies dog stairs.

Have a larger breed dog that needs help getting into the car?  You may need something a bit more heavy duty.  Pet Loader makes a sturdy option for you.  You can also check out some of the products from Pet Gear if your dog would prefer a ramp with no steps.

There are many natural treatments for dogs with arthritis and we plan to focus more content on it in future blogs.  In the meantime, if your dog is in their senior years and suffering from some of the symptoms we mentioned consider visiting a board certified animal chiropractor, adding some supplements to help their joints, and getting a few items to help with their mobility issues.  Have more questions or want us to focus on some other aspects of arthritis?  Comment on this blog!

 

*In an effort to be completely transparent, we do receive a commission if you purchase any of the products.  Doing so allows us to continue producing content like this to help pet owners.  However, there are many great products out there in addition to what we list in this article.  Feel free to explore other options

Animal Chiropractic for Senior Dogs

Animal chiropractic for senior dogs

Aging is not easy for anyone, especially our dogs. Their back end gets weaker, it is hard to get up and down, they quit using stairs, they experience discomfort, and so much more. This can be tough for a pet owner to come to grips with.

However, what if I told you animal chiropractic care could help? I see it all the time in our practice. It helps with mobility problems, comfort, activity levels, and can even slow the progression of arthritis. In this article I’ll define who is considered a senior dog, explain what animal chiropractic is, list some issues it helps, and then inform you how to find a properly trained animal chiropractor.

Who is considered a senior dog?

As many people know, dogs age much faster than we do.  However, did you know certain breeds and different size dogs age differently than others?  Generally speaking, smaller breeds live longer than larger breeds.  Since this is the case, I believe the best definition for a senior dog is any animal that is in the last 25% of their life based on the standard for the breed.  This is usually when we start to see weakness in the rear, discomfort getting up and down, a decrease in activity, and the progression of arthritis.  So, how can animal chiropractic help this?  We must first define what animal chiropractic is.

What is animal chiropractic?

Many people have at least heard of chiropractic for humans.  However, many people are confused as to what chiropractic actually is!  Chiropractors train to evaluate the spine for structural dysfunction, often referred to as subluxations.

Subluxations are areas in the spine that aren’t moving as they should or are in the wrong position.  When dysfunction like this occurs, inflammation can build up and stress joints, nerves, and more leading to pain and reduced function.  To correct this, a chiropractor palpates and motions the spine searching for heat secondary to inflammation, muscle spasm, and joints that aren’t moving well.  When they locate a problematic area, a correction is given via an adjustment to restore normal biomechanics.  When it comes to animal chiropractic, the adjustment is very gentle and there’s typically no cracking or popping!

What conditions might animal chiropractic help a senior dog with?

The spine of a senior dog has endured a lifetime of wear and tear.  This contributes to things we frequently see in practice such as:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Discomfort
  • Decreased rear muscle tone
  • Arthritis and more

Many of these symptoms are secondary to subluxations of the spine, and they often intertwine.

How does this happen?  Initially, a joint quits moving well.  This doesn’t cause too many problems at a young age, but things can snowball later if we don’t correct it.  Eventually, inflammation builds up to a point where it is uncomfortable for a dog to fully engage a joint.  When this happens, a pet owner might notice a dog doesn’t want to use stairs any more or really struggles getting rested in any position.

Over time, this discomfort starts to affect the muscles.  If it is painful to get up from laying down or to walk, a dog will not do it.  The muscles start to atrophy, and even more stress is placed on the joints because there’s less muscle to support it.  There’s an old adage that applies here, use it or lose it – and they will certainly lose muscle tone if they don’t use it.  This becomes cyclical and the discomfort leads to less movement and more muscle wasting, which leads to even less movement and even more muscle wasting.

Arthritis

This will also contribute to arthritis.  Arthritis is the result of chronic inflammation and abnormal stress on a joint.  Arthritis doesn’t form overnight.  It is the result of abnormal biomechanics over long periods of time.  A subluxation left uncorrected is exactly this.  The lack of normal motion in the joint will lead to an inability to pump inflammation away.  The longer the inflammation sits there the longer, the longer it eats away at cartilage.  In addition, this loads a joint up with abnormal stress and combined these progressively lead to arthritis.

The great thing about animal chiropractors is that they train to find and correct subluxations!  This will help alleviate many of the problems senior dogs deal with.  An adjustment will restore normal motion to a joint.  Restoring motion allows joints to pump inflammation away.  With a decrease in inflammation, there’s a decrease in pain.  When the pain is gone, the dog is more willing to be active and is much more mobile.  This will lead to increased muscle tone.

Needless to say, animal chiropractic can be a very important therapy for an aging dog.  However, who is trained appropriately to work with animals?

How do I find an animal chiropractor?

There are two routes to become an animal chiropractor.  A practitioner must first complete veterinary or chiropractic school and receive their doctorate.  After that, they will attend additional training for animal chiropractic at a different program.  These programs usually encompass hundreds of hours of additional training which includes a textbook and hands on curriculum.  At the end of training, they will then have an opportunity to certify with one of the major boards.  These boards include the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

My personal recommendation would be to search out someone who is board certified.  However, if there is no one local then my next recommendation would be to find a practitioner who attended a program that prepares them for these boards.  Some of these programs include Options for Animals, Healing Oasis, the Parker University animal chiropractic program, or ACES.

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that members of our fur family will age.  This is typically accompanied by decreased energy, discomfort, weakness in the back end, and reduced mobility.  However, there are natural solutions such as animal chiropractic that can help.  Is your dog entering their golden years?  Find an animal chiropractor today!

Interested in learning more about other ways to help your senior pet?  Check out our article on natural treatments for dogs with arthritis.

Milo with IVDD and partial paresis

Milo is a young dachshund that  has had back problems due to IVDD on multiple occasions. The incident that brought him in to see us was more drastic than the previous ones. His back had hunched up, his neck was in spasm, and he was dragging his back legs. Milo was in significant pain and his back was like a rock. There was moderate sensitivity in his thoracolumbar junction. Poor little man was just not himself.

Milo started to relax even during his adjustment on day one. We applied some light traction and decompression therapy and he just melted. Getting pressure off of his disc was a huge relief for him. His parents were given some at home instructions and Milo went home. After two  visits Milo was back on his feet, his hunch had begun to decrease and he was holding his head up higher. He seemed happier and had gone back to eating normally.

After one month of treatment, Milo came trotting in to see us and didn’t even slip on the tile flooring. His back is almost totally flattened and his sensitivity level is well within normal. Milo is a sweetheart that is too young to be faced with a lifetime of back problems, and we are hoping with chiropractic we can help prevent future episodes by keeping his spine moving properly!

Milo before and after chiropractic!

Ellie the Shepherd Pup with a Knee Injury

Ellie was dealing with serious lameness and non weight bearing in her one hind leg. She was no stranger to limping as she is a two year old shepherd that LOVES to rough house with her 3 year old shepherd brother. The two are crazy and often times will come up with some sort of lameness. Something was different about this limp though, she wasn’t getting any better, in fact her limp appeared to be regressing. At that point, her parents decided to try chiropractic.

Ellie’s first visit was very typical of a pup with a cruciate tear. Her muscle tone had huge differences side to side, in fact it was inches of difference. She was very tender at her knee joint and had some mild gapping. Aside from all of this, she truly didn’t let it change her personality. Ellie was adjusted once a week for three weeks, and in that time period the change was astonishing. She went from non weight bearing to toe tapping, to fully weight bearing in three weeks. Her playfulness returned and her muscle tone was well on its way to recovery.

Ellie is one of many dogs dealing with knee injuries. These are tricky injuries as they aren’t often given many options as far as healing and prognosis. 9 times out of 10, surgery is recommended. Medications such as NSAIDs, steroids, and muscle relaxers are often times recommended. For those that want to try another option before going that route, chiropractic can be a great option, just look at Ellie! Knee injuries are rarely a time sensitive injury, which means there is no harm in trying an alternative route first!

 

Holly’s Disc Disease and Paralysis

ivddMeet Holly.  She is a 5 year old Dachshund who woke up one day and couldn’t use her back legs thanks to a bad disc.  Naturally, her mother was frantic and immediately took her to the vet.  The vet was not optimistic about her recovery and told the owner that she may want to consider putting her down if she doesn’t start using her rear legs within 48 hours.  The vet recommended a trip to the neurologist and surgery as the only option to alleviate her intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).  Her mom couldn’t afford the recommended surgical route and went to google to find an alternative solution.

Fortunately, she found us!  She called, and we immediately gave her a few tips to help slow the inflammation and secondary damage that results from a disc bulge.  We also gave her a few rehab exercises to stimulate the injured nerves until we could arrive the next day.  When we showed up, she was starting to use her back legs again!  Sure, they weren’t working optimally but we knew with some care and rehab she should return close to 100% of her previous self.

After evaluating her spine, we found some muscle guarding, restriction, and spasm in the mid spine region right where her disc disease was suspected.  We addressed these issues, as well as some problems in the hips.  With the dysfunction in these areas now corrected, it took stress off the parts of the spine pushing on Holly’s injured disc.  We are happy to report that after about a month she is pretty much her old self!  She is running around and as spunky as she has been in a long time.  Now, we are on a plan to check her periodically just to help stabilize the spine, so we don’t have any future issues.  We look forward to seeing her live another 10 years as healthy as her first 5! Check her out below 🙂

 

Daisy and her Knuckling Back Legs

Say hello to this beautiful 14 year old pointer named Daisy! Daisy came to see us just a few short weeks ago due to shaking, knuckling, and dragging in her back legs. What that means is that her back two legs had started to lag when going for walks or even just motoring around the house. Come to find out Daisy had started to slow down more recently and we weren’t really sure why, and her parents were told an MRI may be in order because it could be something neurological. While that is not incorrect, we thought perhaps her issues were more of a structural nature and her folks decided to give us a go.

Daisy had very slow response time in both her hind legs when flipping her paw over. In a normal situation, she should instantly turn her paw to “right” itself as opposed to letting it stay curled under. She was taking several seconds to realize that her paws were in a wrong position. She also had a significant hunch in her midback that her parents recalled developing over the last year or so. All of these things are not uncommon as our pets age. The good news is that often times chiropractic can really help alleviate some of the pressure being placed on the spinal cord, which in turn may be altering the communication between the brain and body.

This was exactly the situation with Daisy. Her roached up mid back was increasing pressure on her spinal cord, causing inflammation and leading to delays in communication and altered nerve interaction. After two adjustments her hunch was notably decreased and she no longer had a delay in her knuckling response. The dragging had stopped and our girl suddenly had that pep in her step back. Daisy has now seen us four times and she is 100% back to herself. We look forward to helping this girl hang around for several more years to come!

Bailey and her Pinched Nerve

pinchednerveSay hello to sweet Bailey! This beautiful girl is 13 and recently has been showing signs of pain and discomfort. She has been dragging and tripping on her front leg and just not acting herself. She has been lethargic and low energy and not jumping into the car. Bailey has been under chiropractic care for a good portion of her life, so before doing anything too drastic, her family opted to get her adjusted!

Bailey was stiff and lame at her first visit, but the spasm in her neck indicated it was likely a pinched nerve stemming from this region. Her range of motion was limited and she wasn’t wanting to do a full body shake. After two adjustments this was almost completely remedied. Bailey was full of energy and able to hop on into the car without a whimper. The limping was present but not nearly as prominent as it was in the beginning. By her third adjustment Bailey’s spasm had nearly disappeared and her range of motion was almost normal in her neck.

Bailey may be considered a senior dog by her age but don’t let that fool you. Her arthritis won’t keep her down and we certainly weren’t going to allow a pinched nerve do that to her either. We are so glad Bailey is doing so exceptionally well and we love this girl to pieces!

Jake the Boxer Puppy and his Pinched Nerve

Say hello to sweet Jake. This little boxer puppy is only a few months old and when we first met him he was in severe pain. As most puppies can be, Jake was crazy and loved to play and run. Out of nowhere one Sunday he came up to his folks screaming and crying in pain, hunched up to where he was almost bent in half, and didn’t want to be touched. The vet tried to move his neck and he could hardly do anything. This poor little dude was suffering from a terrible pinched nerve at such a young age.

Puppies are prone to acting crazy, so it is not abnormal for them to jam themselves up in ways that we wouldn’t believe. It is not often, however, that they show any symptoms, and because of that many of them will actually end up developing in a structurally incorrect manner. Jake, though in a great deal of pain, is fortunate to have shown symptoms so that the problem could be corrected. 

Even after his first visit Jake started to improve. He was able to go through mild range of motion and would lift his head ever so slightly. By his third adjustment Jake was 100 percent returned to his normal self. He is leaping and jumping like a crazy boy and all he wants to do is give hugs and kisses. He has so much growing left to do and we are very excited that he will be able to do so pain free! Check out Jake’s before and after videos below.

 

Tank the Boston Terrier with IVDD

Say hello to sweet Tank! Tank is a six year old Boston Terrier that lost complete function in his back end one weekend. After a trip to the emergency veterinarian, Tank was diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease that had caused a likely disc to herniate or rupture. The family was recommended to do an MRI and immediately follow with surgery, though there was no guarantee Tank would walk again after doing all of the above. After a little internet research, Tank’s parents opted to go the alternative route for a couple of weeks before making any other decisions.

Within his first adjustment, Tank went from unable to hold a stand to actually attempting to stand on his own. Though this is not the norm, we were amazed at how quickly his body rebounded. Three days after the adjustment Tank was able to pull his knees up underneath him. By the second visit he was actually pulling himself up to a stand on his toes. At his third adjustment Tank was using one of his back legs to walk while hobbling on the other. And after four visits, Tank is walking and even running, though a little funnily at first.

Tank had severe compression of his spinal cord from the intervertebral disc disease, when this happens the body has a natural reaction to shut down, which is where the paralysis comes from. As the vertebrae are able to move again, inflammation dies down as it is flushed out of the system and normal function is able to return. The beauty in chiropractic is that we are able to help return within normal function to the spine, and when that happens, we are restoring balance to the system, rather than just removing pressure from one zone and placing it on another. Because of this, we very rarely have seen pets relapse, which can happen with disc disease. Tank is an absolute rockstar, and we hope you’ll take a minute to see for yourself below!

 

Sky and her Partial Paralysis

Meet Sky! This perfect little munchkin was fine one minute and shortly thereafter she couldn’t use her back legs or her front legs. She was dragging herself around and seemed to be in significant pain. After a visit to the vet, she was diagnosed with IVDD and was recommended to do an MRI and surgery. She was prescribed prednisone and pain medication in the meantime.

Sky came to see us two days after the initial incident and at this point she had regained control of her front end, however her back end was not working. She couldn’t pick herself up and she would drag. Her mom would support her with a towel under her back end so that she wouldn’t tear herself up. Sky never lost her bowel and bladder control initially.

After her first visit, Sky began to regain control. Though the initial getting up part was still a little labored, she could do it and then walk close to normally without any assistance! Sky has been seen three times in the past three weeks and she has come a long way. She went from paralyzed to walking in a short period of time as the pressure on her spinal cord was released. Between chiropractic adjustments and at home exercises this girl has made a near full recovery, yay Sky! Check out her video below.

 

Sky Before and After!