Arthritis is a widely known condition, but it doesn’t begin with obvious or drastic symptoms. In fact, most pet owners notice that their dogs become less active and assume, “Oh, my pet’s just getting older.” Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated. Dog arthritis is a progressive condition defined by an ongoing loss of cartilage in the joints. As cartilage in the knee, hip, or shoulder becomes thinner and thinner, it leaves the bones exposed.
The bones end up painfully rubbing together without the protective cushion and shock absorption that cartilage is designed to provide. It’s very possible that your dog is suffering from this chronic disease.
Which natural at-home treatments may be able to provide relief to your furry friend?
What Does Dog Arthritis Look Like?
Most dogs develop arthritis as a result of a happy, active life. Everyday movements like jumping off couches, chasing toys, and sprinting across the yard take their toll on the joints. Areas of the body that experience constant daily use like the knees and hips sustain the most arthritic damage.
If you’ve noticed that your dog isn’t as playful as usual, or they are having a harder time getting up and down, arthritis could be the root problem. The most common symptoms of arthritis include the following:
- Irritability when touched or petted
- Unusual depression and grouchiness
- Reluctance to play
- Avoidance of exercise or large movements
- More frequent accidents in the house
- More sleep than usual
The Difference Between Mild and Severe Dog Arthritis
Like most diseases, arthritis occurs on a spectrum. It affects dogs at different intensities. Your dog may develop mild arthritis that morphs into severe arthritis if left untreated.
Mild arthritis is characterized by common aches and pains. It doesn’t restrict body movement, and aches and pains probably respond to over-the-counter pain medications.
However, severe dog arthritis causes observable avoidance of activities due to chronic pain and discomfort. While dogs with mild arthritis can still play catch and chase you upstairs, dogs with severe arthritis have trouble moving quickly or changing positions.
Natural Dog Arthritis Treatments to Try at Home
If your dog’s arthritis has just started to develop and show signs of impacting his behavior, these natural treatments can be used at home to alleviate symptoms and minimize future joint damage.
Excess body weight is the most common cause of arthritis pain. If your dog is overweight, their joints are forced to endure extra pressure that exacerbates arthritis discomfort. A few simple weight management strategies may improve mild arthritis symptoms.
Even a loss of just five pounds can significantly improve how your dog feels and functions! Five pounds to a dog is equivalent to about 15 pounds on a human, so it’s no wonder that weight loss is such a powerful tool to prevent arthritis symptoms. Without the excess weight of five pounds, your dog won’t have such trouble getting up and down or moving quickly.
Nutraceuticals are products derived from foods that offer additional health or medical benefits. Glucosamine and fish oil are two nutraceuticals used frequently to combat dog arthritis.
Glucosamine functions in three major ways to improve arthritis. First, it has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can minimize the swelling triggered by arthritic joints. Second, glucosamine provides some of the essential building blocks needed to rebuild damaged cartilage. Third, it increases the joint fluid that provides lubrication to the joint’s moving parts — just like oil in a car.
Keep in mind that your dog needs the animal version of glucosamine, not the human version. A dog’s GI tract is about 30% shorter than a human’s, so human glucosamine can’t be absorbed quickly enough to provide significant benefits. Instead, human glucosamine irritates the gut and causes other unwanted symptoms.
Doggy glucosamine is available in pill or liquid form. Though many dog foods claim they contain glucosamine, that glucosamine has been heated and processed into the dry dog food pellets. This breaks the glucosamine down and eliminates its health benefits.
In addition to glucosamine, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also function in the body to decrease inflammation and nourish the joints. Fatty acids stimulate the production of lubricating joint fluid to boost mobility of the joints. Some research even suggests that fish oil increases the efficacy of glucosamine, so the two nutraceuticals are often used together as a natural dog arthritis treatment.
Exercise is extremely important to your dog’s at-home arthritis treatment for two reasons. It not only supports weight loss efforts, but exercise also advances joint function and decreases pain by improving joint fluid circulation.
All joints — even healthy joints — have poor blood supply. Inflammatory mediators build up, become stagnant, and create pain if the body isn’t moving on a regular basis. This is why humans and dogs alike experience the worse arthritis pain in the morning when they try to get out of bed. Exercise prevents this stiffness because it helps the body flush out inflammatory mediators and circulate joint fluid with newly oxygenated anti-inflammatory materials.
Keep in mind that your dog shouldn’t be sprinting across the yard or chasing the ball during arthritis exercises. The best movements are low-impact or no-impact. Swimming is an ideal exercise for arthritic dogs because it provides a wide range of movements without causing any physical impact on the joints.
Other Treatment Options for Severe Dog Arthritis
If your dog’s arthritis doesn’t respond to natural at-home treatments, or if the disease has progressed into a severe condition, a few other options do exist.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs, Metacam, and Rimadyl are usually the first medical treatments suggested by vets when treating dog arthritis. These prescription medications combat arthritis inflammation, but they aren’t always enough to relieve the condition. When anti-inflammatory drugs aren’t enough, your vet may recommend painkillers like gabapentin, tramadol, or an opioid.
However, these drugs and painkillers do cause unwanted side effects. Long-term NSAID use is especially dangerous because it harms the gastrointestinal system and makes your dog more vulnerable to kidney and liver problems like chronic kidney disease and hepatitis. Steroids and painkillers are also harmful because they inhibit other essential biochemical processes without enabling any long-term healing.
It’s challenging to balance the benefits of medical treatments with the harm they cause. Though some non-medical alternatives exist, like laser therapy and underwater treadmill workouts, they don’t offer the deep rehabilitation needed to overcome a serious condition like arthritis.
This is exactly why more pet owners are turning to a brand new alternative called stem cell therapy.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is an innovative and natural option that does what no other dog arthritis therapy can do. It infuses a dog’s joints with a concentration of stem cells to aid in decreasing inflammation and rebuilding damaged joint tissue.
Stem cells accelerate healing beyond the body’s normal capabilities by anchoring themselves to the damaged tissues, secreting specialized chemicals, and converting into the specific types of cells that need to be repaired or replaced. Through stem cell therapy, even dogs with severe arthritis have been able to feel comfortable once again.
How Is HUC-DT Stem Cell Therapy Unique?
Stem cell therapy for dogs and humans alike has evolved over the years. Stem cell therapy for dogs was first performed as autologous stem cell therapy, which is restricted by a few significant drawbacks:
- Requires canine patient to undergo anesthesia
- Fat cells must be harvested and treated to boost reactivity
- Patient must undergo a second round of anesthesia to receive stem cells
- Limited power with only 1,000 stem cells per ml
Human Umbilical Cord Cell Derivatives, or HUC-DT, has recently emerged as a safe and powerful alternative to autologous stem cell therapy for dogs. It overcomes the numerous limitations of traditional stem cell therapy and delivers significant benefits:
- No anesthesia required
- Cells are pure and untreated
- Powerful concentration of 5 million stem cells per ml
Thanks to its impressive healing capabilities, HUC-DT stem cell therapy offers an unprecedented procedure for dog arthritis.
When Should You Consider Stem Cell Therapy for Dog Arthritis?
When weight loss, nutraceuticals, exercise, and pain medications fail to alleviate your dog’s arthritis symptoms, it is definitely time to consider stem cell therapy. Many pet owners are now even choosing stem cell therapy in place of conventional painkillers and steroids in order to improve their pets’ health without the risk of side effects.
As soon as stem cells are injected in high concentrations into your dog’s joint, they immediately travel to find the chemicals released from degrading, damaged cartilage. These chemicals are responsible for the pain, swelling, and inflammation associated with arthritis.
By producing the growth factors, proteins, and other biochemicals necessary for deep healing, stem cells can decrease cell death, slow the progression of arthritis, and even rebuild damaged tissues. This dynamic process overcomes the effects of arthritis to bring your dog true, lasting comfort.
Dr. Tyler Simpson and his team at Stem Cells For Dogs are committed to using the power of HUC-DT stem cell therapy to help your beloved family pet escape the daily pain and suffering of arthritis. Learn more about Stem Cells For Dogs and find a veterinarian who offers premier stem cell therapy services near you.