Pet Corner: Natural Remedies for Arthritis

| July/August 2000

  • Natural remedies can ease the pain of your pet’s arthritis.
  • Natural remedies can ease the pain of your pet’s arthritis.
    Photo courtesy of H. Troxell

In my practice in Kansas City, I treat more cases of arthritis than any other single disease. I have found that a ­holistic approach for treating the broad ­category of arthropathies (any joint disease) is quite simply the best way to approach this multifaceted disease. I get much better results now than I ever did with Western medicines, and I see far fewer adverse side effects.

Arthritis and its cou­sin, rheumatism, are catch-all terms that encompass several dozen disease states of the joints and surrounding tissues such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles. There are many conditions that cause arthritis and/or rheumatism, including infections, trauma, old-age changes, and genetic factors. Each of these causes has its own preferred method of treatment, so get an accurate diagnosis from your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common arthritic problems I see in my practice are a potpourri of osteoarthritic and degenerative arthro-pathies. The typical patient is a mid- to ­old-aged dog (five years and older). Lower back and hips are the most commonly affected areas, but I think I’ve seen arthritis in every conceivable joint. (I see an occasional cat with arthritis, too. But since they tend to be couch potatoes, I suspect they are not often diagnosed by their owners.)

Alternative medicine may provide lasting pain relief. 

Most of the dogs I see have some form of structural abnormality, and because of the way they are put together, they’re constantly putting abnormal pressure on their joint surfaces, causing excess wear and tear and an increase of cell-produced free radicals. Excess wear and tear results in ­erosion of the joint’s cartilage and eventual loss of its cushioning effects. Without the cushioning cartilage, a dog feels pain.

Typically, when I see dogs with ­arthritis, the dog has been slowly getting worse and is having a difficult time getting around. There may be enough pain and inflammation that we notice a limp when he walks, and sometimes the joints are swollen. X-rays may or may not show noticeable changes in joints, but chiropractic evaluation often reveals joints that are less flexible than normal.

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