Osteoarthritis (commonly referred arthritis) affects 25-30% of dogs (according to some estimates, that number is on the rise). It’s a chronic condition that arises when the cartilage surrounding a joint deteriorates, often because of chronic inflammation. Because cartilage covers the ends of bones and acts as a kind of barrier/shock absorber to keep them from scraping against each other, as the cartilage wears down, the bones it surrounds can rub against each other, which is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst.
- Trouble moving around
- Abnormal gait
- Difficulty standing up
- Clicking sound when walking
- Difficulty jumping in or out of the car or onto the bed
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
- Make sure your dog is the proper weight.
- Ensure your dog gets the appropriate, adequate exercise. If your dog is showing signs of arthritis, you can (and should!) start them out with gentle walks so you don’t stress their muscles out. If your dog is in a lot of discomfort, a slow, short (10 or 15 minutes) walk twice a day is a great place to start. As they start to build up endurance, you can increase the distance and the speed. Let your dog guide you…you want them to be comfortable, but you also want to make sure their joints and muscles get used on a frequent, consistent basis.
- Get your dog onto a balanced, varied, species-appropriate raw diet. Moving them off a processed-food diet and on to a raw diet helps ensure that what they eat isn’t causing inflammation, which is the cause of joint disease and damage.
- Consider providing appropriate supplements: omega-3s (found in oily fish such as whole raw sardines, as well as fish oil and krill oil), MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), turmeric paste (also called golden paste—recipe available in the Resources section), glucosamine, and/or chondroitin sulfate are all good options.
- Consider alternative therapies to give your dog more relief: Frankincense essential oil, massage therapy, and TTouch are all good choices.