Hips and Joints

By Stella Wilkes

Dogs with degenerative arthritis experience varying degrees of lameness, stiffness and joint pain which is more apparent in the morning and after they have been lying down for any length of time.

Your vet will typically prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or steroids but if you prefer to try a more natural alternative, with fewer side effects, then you may wish to explore the natural alternatives which are discussed in more detail below:

 

GLUCOSAMINE

The name is derived from the combined names of glucose and the amino acid glutamine.  Glucosamine produces glycosaminoglycans which help to repair cartilage and tissues in your pets’ joints.

Pet food manufacturers claim that their pet food contains a good amount of glucosamine but analysis of a bag of kibble which promoted joint support and glucosamine on the bag, revealed that the amount of glucosamine, based on how much food the average dog would eat, did not provide an adequate dose -  (Dogs Naturally Magazine “Does your Joint Support Kibble Stand Up)

By far the most natural way to ensure your dog has sufficient glucosamine is to feed a species appropriate diet (raw) which includes the parts of the animal which contains glucosamine. Examples are given below:

CHICKEN FEET – available almost everywhere, are an excellent, cheap source of Glucosamine providing on average 450 mg per foot.

TRACHEA – is around 5% glucosamine therefore just one 30gram piece of trachea could hold over 1400 mg of glucosamine. Bearing in mind that a 50 lb dog needs 1000 mg per day, this is obviously a good source. 

BONE MARROW – glucosamine is found in the bone marrow of animals (poultry necks are probably the most suitable to feed) and in fact any part of the animal that contains plenty of cartilage and connective tissue are good sources. Marrow is very rich, and should only be fed in limited amounts to avoid a stomach upset, and large knuckle bones should only be fed as a recreational bone, and removed once the dog has stripped the meat and some of the marrow.

BONE BROTH – is loaded with glucosamine – guide to making bone broth can be found in our files.

GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS – freely available in New Zealand but hard to find fresh elsewhere.  Green lipped mussel is available in powder form (ensure it is cold extracted as heat destroys nutrients) and freeze dried green lipped mussels are sold in some places.

Lobster, crab, shrimp and crawfish contain trace amounts of glucosamine but are reputed to have a heavy load of metal contamination and could contain mercury, so these are probably not the best choice.

Glucosamine pills are available from the vet or to buy from a store, but, given the option of providing it in the form of food, this option does not seem to be the most sensible or the best financially, especially given the fact that, if fed in food form, the risk associated with feeding too much is not a factor, as it can be when the synthetic supplement is used.

METHYLSULFONLMETHANE (MSM)

MSM is an organic form of sulphur containing compound that is well known for its benefit to joint health. If you would like to find out more about its properties and how it is formed, there is a  very informative article in Dogs Naturally Magazine which can be accessed online.

Most commercially produced MSM is not produced from a natural substance but is the product of the chemical industries and so, whilst MSM is purported to help with chronic pain, act as a synergist (which means that it improves the cellular uptake of many nutrients), an antioxidant, capable of binding and inactivating harmful free radical and act as an anti-parasitic, amongst other conditions, it is important to source a reputable manufacturer to ensure the product is pure.

Studies have shown that MSM is very effective in reducing joint degeneration and inflammation and the therapeutic dosage for dogs is about 50 to 100mg per 10 lbs of body weight.

RAW DIET

If you prefer to rely on food sources of MSM, make sure your dog’s diet is raw and organic to ensure as much of the naturally occurring MSM is kept intact.  Smaller amounts of MSM would be needed, if it is being obtained from food, so it should be possible for your dog to get enough from diet alone.

MSM is organic sulphur, so adding sulphur rich foods to your pets’ diet may help (this will also help with the production of glutathione, another important antioxidant)  Sulphur rich foods include meats with a lot of collagen such as bones, trachea and connective tissue.

HERBS

Several herbal remedies are claimed to have anti-inflammatory properties and these are listed below. 

Turmeric – (Golden Paste) perhaps one of the most well-known (especially to those interested in natural healthcare).  More information about this herb (which is from the ginger family) can be found in our files. 

Ginger – relieves the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by stopping the immune system’s production of inflammatory leukotrienes

Devils Claw – is an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and body tonic. 

Solomon’s Seal – is known in Chinese medicine to moisten dryness and relieve pain and spasm.  Solomon’s Seal is used for anything relating to the spines well as arthritis and joint pain.

Meadowsweet and White Willow Bark (should NOT be used for CATS) – an analgesic and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Horsetail – (should NOT be used for CATS) – is an anti-inflammatory herb that contains salicylic acid to help control pain. When paired with Alfalfa leaf (which moves uric acid out of the body and contains many amino acids, vitamins and minerals) a synergistic effect may help build and repair cartilage.  Alfalfa is also an excellent choice for geriatric animals.

Boswellia Serrata – contains phytochemicals that stop the production of leukotrienes, which cause inflammation.  This is best used as a powdered resin or liquid extract.  Boswellia has been used as an anti-inflammatory for many years and is currently being researched and used in hospitals in Europe.

St. John’s Wort – is a nervine tonic and works well with injuries, preventing inflammation if used right away.  It can be used in synergistic blends (i.e. combined with another herb to create a more beneficial treatment) for joint pain and tissue healing. St. John’s Wort is also an antidepressant which can be beneficial to help your dog/cat overcome the emotional consequences of injury and to better cope with pain. It is anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial, all of which help with healing internally and externally.

ADAPTOGENS

There is a group of herbs known as adaptogens (a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress)  They are unique from other substances in their ability to restore the balance of endocrine hormones, modulate the immune system and maintain optimal homeostasis (physiological balance).  To put it more simply, they “adapt” to the body stressors without being stimulating or suppressing and almost every adaptogen has anti-inflammatory properties.

These are listed below for information and further research into their properties and use.

Withania Somnifera “Ashwagandha, Eleutherococcus Senticosus “Eleuthero”, Embilica Officianalis “Amalaki”, Holy Basil or Tulsi Oil, Asian Ginseng, Cordyceps, Guduchi, Rhodiola Root

**Disclaimer-This article is for informational purposes only. Should you have any medical concern speak with your vet.**

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