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Arthritis in Dogs
Prevention & Alternative Medical Approaches
by Dr. John M. Simon
t is estimated that 25-30% of all dogs will suffer the ago-
nizing and crippling pain of arthritis during their lifetime.
Large dogs are the most susceptible to arthritis but dogs of
any breed, age or size can be victims of this disease. Early
signs of arthritis may be fi rst noticed when your dog starts
to get up slower from a lying position and could eventually
become devastating as your pet becomes unable to rise.
that leads to less and less movement until the pet can no lon-
As arthritis progresses, there is a steady degeneration
ger get up and must be carried out to go to the bathroom. If
of the dog’s joint cartilage. This cartilage is a cushion in the
the pet is large and can not be easily carried, euthanasia can
dog’s elbow, knee, ankle, shoulder or hip. Cartilage gives the
sadly become the only alternative.
dog the mobility to run and play. As this cartilage begins to
In addition to making walking diffi cult, severe arthritis
be rubbed thin, the bones will begin to grind against each
often results in personality and behavioral changes. A dog’s
other, causing severe pain.
pain may cause them to withdraw from the family and seek
Dogs in the earlier stages of arthritis may have mild pain
secluded places. Because rising may be very painful, arthritic
and lose as much as 20% of their joint’s range of motion.
pets may soil the rug where they lie rather than ask to go out.
Consequently, they appear stiff when they get up, and walk,
Because squatting is painful, arthritic pets often become con-
and as their arthritis progresses as much as 50% of their
stipated. Dogs and cats in pain can become aggressive and
joint’s range of motion may be lost. Because they are often
ornery and start to bite. Dogs that were once friendly will
in severe pain they will be reluctant to move and the less
not want to be touched by anyone–including trusted family
they move the more weight they gain. This added weight puts
additional stress on their joints. Lack of movement and re-
So what’s the solution? Conventional medicine attempts
duced exercise results in weakened musculature. Pain, added
to solve the problem with laboratory manufactured cortico-
weight and weakened muscles are all part of a vicious cycle
steroids or non steroidal anti infl ammatory drugs. Both these
products are usually effective in reducing infl ammation and
pain, but ultimately result in further joint deterioration and
can damage other organs such as the stomach, liver and
On the other hand, the alternative medical approach
is to use nutritional joint support substances, weight loss,
medicinal herbs, anti- oxidants, mega vitamin and mineral
therapy, omega 3 fatty acids, chiropractic care, physical ther-
apy, acupuncture, prolotherapy, and adult stem cell therapy
to reduce pain and infl ammation and to support joint health
rather than simply removing the symptoms. This approach is
much gentler on the body and rarely results in any serious
side effects.
Of course it is not necessary to wait until your dog is
lame before you take steps to help your pet. Being proactive
makes much more sense. Feeding your healthy dog or cat a
high quality, free-range, meat-based diet and supplementing
with raw vegetables, digestive enzymes, omega 3 fatty acids
and Celtic sea salt will go a long way toward preventing the
onset of arthritis. In situations where the above therapies do
not provide suffi cient relief the use of oral natural hydrocorti-
sone (from the Yam plant) often provides the severely arthritic
dog with desperately needed comfort.
Dr. Simon is the owner of the Woodside Animal Clinic in
Royal Oak where, for the last 40 years he has been healing all
types of small animal with both alternative and conventional
medicine. He is a columnist, author, lecturer and past presi-
dent of the Oakland County Veterinary Association.
38 Oakland, Macomb, Livingston & St. Clair, MI
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