There are two general causes of joint problems - degenerative (a natural processes caused by aging) and developmental (such as hip or elbow dysplasia). Although many of the things mentioned in this article can help with developmental joint problems, we will be focusing on degenerative issues. Considering that 1 in 4 dogs suffer from arthritis, (arthritis is fairly uncommon in cats) knowing the signs and what can be done to help, is beneficial especially when you catch it in its early stages.
- less subtle: decreased activity, litterbox mishaps, hesitant to climb stairs or jump
- lameness, stiffness, muscle atrophy, swelling, pain to the touch, licking joints
- less subtle: restlessness, nervous or aggressive behaviour, reluctance to jump or run.
How Can I Prevent or Treat Joint Issues?
Keep your pet lean, as extra weight puts a strain on the joints and increases the chance of injury. Do keep an exercise regime but low-impact. Perhaps consider more frequent shorter walks in lieu of 10k marathons. Some beneficial foods to add to the diet include papaya, alfalfa, celery, and ginger, all have anti inflammatory constituents. Perhaps raised water and food bowls would make him more comfortable. Pay attention to the stairs if they are not carpeted, and maybe install a runner which could help prevent injury. Along the same lines, keep nails short. Use a ramp to get in and out of the car would be a good addition if your pet travels with you frequently. Additional considerations to discuss with your vet: physical, laser, water and massage therapy, as well as acupuncture. Lastly, look for supplements containing the following ingredients:
- Fish oil: helps reduce inflammation and eases joint stiffness
- Herbs: such as arnica, Boswellia, cayenne, comfrey, ginger, Licorice Root, devil’s claw, turmeric, and yucca
- Glucosamine, chondroitin: protects the joints by helping to rebuild the cartilage and restore synovial (joint) fluid
- MSM: helps maintain normal articular cartilage
- Green-lipped Mussel: maintains cartilage and connective tissue
- Hyaluronic Acid: increases joint lubrication
- Curcumin: removes damaging free-radicals and supports normal inflammatory response.
And why not try this?
Another supplement that has been making headlines recently (and in my personal opinion a miraculous plant) is CBD oil derived from Hemp. CBD has been reported to decrease pain and reduce inflammation. Although vets can’t prescribe it, the more open-minded ones who have researched it themselves, will discuss its benefits. Or come talk to us about all the heart-warming stories we have heard and would love to share with you.
Once starting a joint focused regime, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised because many people have claimed their pet regain a new “joie de vivre”. True, we can’t stop them from getting older, but we CAN make their senior years more comfortable.