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.

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!

dogarthritis

Lucy with Arthritis and a Drunken Walk

dogarthritisMeet Lucy! Lucy is a senior Bichon that started coming to see us because she was dragging her back legs and had some significant arthritis. Though she was older, her mom knew it didn’t make sense for her to be in so much pain. Lucy walked as if she was a little drunk and her back legs crossed over one another from time to time. This was also concerning for her mom, as it seemed like she was showing symptoms of something more serious than arthritis.

After meeting Lucy and giving her a once over, she definitely was exhibiting symptoms of a pinched nerve, possibly even a minor disc bulge. She was uncomfortable and lower energy. Lucy did great getting adjusted and her mom was perfect at following her treatment plan. We first saw Lucy twice a month until she was out of pain (which took about two visits!), after that we started seeing Lucy less frequently as her adjustments were holding. Now, we see Lucy about every 6-8 weeks depending on her activity level.

After seeing Lucy this last visit, her mom told us that she is now doing stairs again and jumping on furniture, both things she has not done for over two years. She also doesn’t have any pain, her legs don’t drag, and she hasn’t tripped over herself since coming to get adjusted. Lucy was showing signs of the beginning stages of a disc problem, which can become quite serious. Her mom was proactive in getting her adjusted and now Lucy has more energy than she did two years ago. Pets are truly wonderful at hiding their pain and discomfort, so it’s always a good idea to get them checked out for prevention’s sake!

Molly the Lab with a Cruciate Tear

cruciatetearGood golly miss Molly! Molly here is a senior Labrador but at heart she is definitely more of a puppy. For the greater part of the summer Molly was limping on her back leg, and eventually she wasn’t able to put weight on her right hind. At that point her mom knew something was up and took her in to see her veterinarian. Molly was diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament, and the option she was given was surgery. Her mom knew there had to be another way, so she decided to go the chiropractic route.

On her first visit Molly hobbled in holding her back leg up and not weight bearing hardly at all. She had lost a great deal of muscle and her ligament was undoubtedly injured. For four weeks we did consistent chiropractic adjustments. At the end of this period Molly was weight bearing at least 70 percent of the time on her injured leg, and her muscle tone had begun to improve. At the end of six weeks, Molly was basically normal again.

Molly never went under the knife, she never was on medication, and she never had to deal with complications from surgery. She was active the entire time, her mom dutifully did massage on her and she got adjusted. With all of this, she was able to make a full recovery and is no worse for the wear. Molly goes on mile long walks and will run without a second thought now, something she hadn’t been able to do thanks to that pesky injury. Yahoo Molly girl!

cruciatetear

Holden with Arthritis and a Cruciate Tear

It’s about time we introduced everyone to Holden. Don’t let his handsome face and boyish charm fool you, this senior dog was seriously on the struggle bus earlier this year. We received a phone call in the early spring regarding Holden. He was not weight-bearing on the right hind leg due to a cruciate tear and because of his fourteen years, was not a candidate for cruciate ligament surgery. He also did not travel well because he was horribly arthritic and it was uncomfortable for him to be in the car. Basically, Holden was a mess, and his parents were besides themselves trying to figure out what they could do to help him along his journey.

 

Holden had lost a significant amount of muscle by the time we met him. His strong leg was already weakened and unstable because of how much he had to favor it, and his injured leg had hardly any strength at all. He was only putting the tip of his toes down and that was on every seven or eight steps. Holden didn’t want to sit, lay down, or play. The simplest tasks were becoming hard for him. We explained how chiropractic can often help facilitate healing of the knee and cruciate ligament and stabilize the injury in situations such as Holden’s. Not only would an adjustment regimen help the injured leg improve, but it would also help with his arthritis and the rest of his ailments.

 

Because of the severity of Holden’s injury, we saw him three weeks in a row and then every other week for an additional month. At the end of those seven weeks this pup was fully weight bearing, walking, running, and sitting without trouble. His lameness was no longer present and his strength had returned. This fourteen year old was acting more like a six year old and you’d never have known that a few months earlier it seemed like he may be on his last leg. Between chiropractic and good parenting, Holden has been able to live a much better quality of life and he’s made 2017 a great year. Hoping 2018 turns out even better as he continues to maintain his strength and excitement!

Gordon the Shepherd and his Pinched Nerve

Check out Gordon! He is a rescued shepherd that caught our hearts the moment we met him. He is an absolute Velcro dog and thinks he is only ten pounds. When Gordon started limping horribly, his fur mom was very concerned. It got to the point where within a few days Gordon wasn’t weight bearing hardly at all in his one front leg. His limp was horrible and he wasn’t getting up without help and didn’t come to greet mom at the door when she came home. The veterinarian couldn’t tell what was wrong and said they’d need an MRI and possibly surgery.

 

Not wanting to go that route unless there were no other options, Gordon’s mom gave us a call first. Gordon waltzed in non weight bearing on the one front leg and was in complete spasm throughout his neck. Upon further investigation, Gordon had always been a big puller on his lead. This had lead to a significant pinched nerve at the base of his neck.

 

After his first adjustment, Gordon began to weight bear about fifty percent of the time. Within three adjustments Gordon’s gait had completely resolved and he wasn’t limping any longer. He was getting up and greeting mom at the door and even running on his walks. His energy was back and overall he felt amazing again. All of this without ever having to go under the knife! Sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones we tend to ignore, we are so glad Gordon’s mom didn’t!

 

To watch a before and after video of Gordon- click here!

badback

Zuko the Rottie and his Bad Back

badbackCheck out Zuko- that handsomest rottie mix that we’ve ever seen. We may be a little partial…he’s certainly grown on us over the past several months and become part of the family. Zuko came in because he was dealing with a lot of limping after every adventure outside. He couldn’t play, run, or really do anything without having a bad limp afterward in addition to having some low back pain. Since mom and dad go to the chiropractor, they figured that might be exactly what he needed to get over this hump.

 

On Zuko’s first visit it was more or less love at first sight. He came bounding in with a huge grin on his face, and a limp on his back end. Though nothing appeared to be torn or injured, the darn limp was still there. After two adjustments Zuko’s limp had basically disappeared. Hard to believe but his energy level skyrocketed and he was totally ready to go retrieve some balls.

 

A few months after being adjusted Zuko injured his hind leg and was struggling to put full weight on it. Concerned that it might be a tear, his fur mom brought him in to get checked. Luckily for us it appeared that Zuko sprained his cruciate ligament, something that normally takes several weeks to a couple of months to heal. Within two weeks and two adjustments Zuko was back to normal. Inflammation was gone and his gait was perfectly normal. Once again our happy boy was back to his happy self!

Barley and Sam, senior dogs with young hearts!

Barley and Sam…two of my all-time favorite wheatons. They are furry, friendly, and full blown adorable. You’d never know it but these two are both seniors, 12 and 14 to be exact. Mentally, they are sharp as tacks, and physically they aren’t so bad anymore either. When we first met these two fur babies, however, they were both struggling with structural instability. As the saying goes, age before beauty, so we shall start with Sam’s story first.

 

Sam was having a horrible time getting around. He walked like he was drunk, his back legs were crossing over, he was sideways and falling, and frankly his fur parents were very worried. His symptoms didn’t look good at all and after doing all the standard testing and procedures, they still didn’t have any definitive issues. At that they were referred to us and decided to give chiropractic a try.

 

Sam was definitely having a very hard time. His mental state was all there, he was happy as a clam and would run up to greet you, yet half the time he flopped over and lost his back end on the way. What looked very serious, ended up being a result of unstable structure. Sam had a great deal of arthritis and was very limited in his mobility. He wanted to move faster than his little body could take him. After his first adjustment though, Sam was already moving better. He wasn’t falling over and he was navigating much easier. Within the first few adjustments his fur mom caught him on the stairs, something he hadn’t done in years. Sam continues to surprise us at each step of the way, and he’s improved leaps and bounds both literally and figuratively!

 

Barley, on the other hand, is what his mom might call a drama queen. Whereas many animals are stoic when it comes to injury or discomfort, Barley was one to let you know. He like Sam had a great deal of arthritis, especially in his limbs, making it very tough to walk without pain. Barley feels loads better when he gets adjusted and you can easily tell by the amount of activity he does afterwards. Between the running and the playing, Barley becomes a new sort of pooch after treatments.

 

We love these two sweet faces and couldn’t imagine not knowing them or their fur parents. They bring more joy to our practice and more love to our hearts just knowing how appreciative they are. It never ceases to amaze us how quickly they respond and we only hope they decide to stick around for the next several years!