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Arthritis
(Scientific Name: Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease)
(Dogs, Cats and Horses)
For Specific information(Canine, Feline and Equine)

 

Simply put, arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. Arthritis is caused when the joint fluid (the synovial fluid) becomes less “fluid” and the joint is no longer properly lubricated. In the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, the cartilage cushioning the joints also wears down and the bones literally starting rubbing against each other and calcium deposits begin to form on the ends of the bones causing increasing joint pain. While arthritis can occur wherever there is a joint, the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and ankles are most commonly affected.

 

Causes of arthritis in dogs and cats may include (but are not limited to) the following: breed (see below) or familial predisposition, poor conformation, injury to the joint, poor quality food, autoimmune conditions, allergies and “leaking bowel syndrome” (also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome which ‘leaks’ bacteria and toxins into the vascular system).  Your veterinarian can properly diagnose the specific cause of arthritis in your feline or canine.

 

Large-breed dogs are commonly affected with arthritis simply because of their size and that their frames carry the most weight. However, medium to smaller dogs and cats do develop and suffer from arthritis. It is also important to understand that excess weight (obesity) on any animal can lead to potential joint damage and subsequent arthritis.

Canines prone to arthritis commonly include: Labradors, Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Collies and Kelpies. However, any very active dog can become prone to arthritis without proper supervision and prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Breeds prone to genetic defects like elbow and hip dysplasia are also at extremely high risk for developing arthritis.

Arthritis is also common in horses because they are athletic animals; often confined for long periods and then exercised hard (especially including equines that race, jump or show). These cycles of high activity – along with accidents, loose joints, familial predisposition, abnormal growth patterns and injuries –often lead to joint inflammation and the loss of movement or osteoarthritis. Just like with dogs, cats and humans, arthritis can appear in any joint; however the most common areas in the horse include the upper knee joint, the front fetlocks, hocks or coffin joints in the front feet.

Horses become particularly prone to arthritis after the age of 15 because the cartilage now starts to wear out faster than it is being produced. Another cause of equine arthritis includes toes that turn out or crooked legs; this abnormal growth causes the joint cartilage to wear out unevenly making it even more susceptible to the formation of arthritis.

 

 

 

SYMPTOMS:

Arthritic inflammation in canines, felines and equines (as well as in humans) is usually combined with pain, heat, swelling, increasing stiffness, lameness, decreased range of motion and immobility. For example, your aging dog may take longer to get up in the morning; your older cat doesn’t jump as high as she once did or your senior horse may exhibit lameness until properly warmed up.

Strenuous (and/or the wrong) exercise will worsen arthritic symptoms in dogs, cats and horses. In severe cases of arthritis, bony growths may also be visible. Animals with arthritis will also nip or avoid being touched, become depressed and may even change their eating habits.



RECOMMENDATIONS/SUPPLEMENTATION

There are proven medications, therapies, diets, environmental adaptations, modified exercises and Integrative Medicine options to help your canine, feline and/or equine live a more comfortable life even with arthritis.

 

The two primary goals of any arthritis treatment must include: 1) nourishing the joint; and 2) providing the proper anti-inflammatory formulas to effectively reduce the pain, swelling and stiffness of the affected joint.

 

Some animals on long-term supplementation for arthritis may need to change the type of product every year or so to enhance or maintain proper joint health.  

 

Ideally -- and especially in high-risk breeds -- your dog should start receiving joint support in their middle years to keep the joint and cartilage healthy and proactively delay the onset of arthritis in their later years.

 

In some cases, it may be necessary to address the origin of the arthritis to effectively support the treatment and healing process. To do this, your veterinarian will use a combination of your dog, cat or horse’s medical history, physical exams, x-rays, blood tests, MRI imaging, ultrasound and even fluid testing from the affected joint to properly diagnose the arthritis. It is also critical to rule out surgery (particularly for arthritis from hip or elbow dysplasia in canines), infections, slipped discs or even cancer before deciding on effective treatment options.

 

Once a diagnosis of your pet’s arthritis has been done, your veterinarian might prescribe steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs to help decrease joint swelling and make movement easier. NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are also commonly prescribed drugs for felines, canines and equines. It is important to understand that NSAIDs provide temporary pain relief and do not heal the arthritic joint.

 

In severe cases of arthritis, surgery may be required to remove chips of damaged bone (called an arthroscopy) or reconstruct affected joints or even fuse them (called arthrodesis) together.

 

It is very important that you do not self-medicate your pet’s arthritis on your own as many human anti-inflammatories can be dangerous to your animals. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is toxic to cats. Aspirin is also extremely dangerous for cats because they can be easily overdosed. Only your vet can properly diagnose your dog, cat or horse’s arthritis, determine any medication allergies or sensitivities and effectively avoid future liver or kidney damage (a potential side effect from NSAIDs).

 

Acupuncture, massage, herbal supplements and antioxidant vitamins are all viable and effective treatment options. However, to avoid dangerous reactions or inflicting more pain on your animal, always consult with a trained professional first.

 

Integrative Medicine
Dogs and Cats

 

Not all animals can use all natural remedies; allergic reactions to oils
and/or herbs and digestive problems are possible.
A natural remedy is not a substitute for veterinary care.

 

The following nutraceuticals or natural/herbal formulas can also provide effective treatment for your canines, felines and equines living with arthritis.

  • Glucosamine sulfate: The safest and widely-used remedies for arthritis. Helps rehabilitate the damaged cartilage and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent relieving some of the joint pain. When used alone, it helps the body manufacture its own chondroitin.
  • Chondroitin sulfate: Helps prevent the degradation of joint cartilage and reduces inflammation. Often used in combination with Glucosamine in protecting against future cartilage degeneration.
  • Curcumin: A powerful anti-inflammatory supplement – thereby reducing joint pain. Derived from turmeric (a herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family and native to tropical South Asia), curcumin also offers the crucial benefit of protecting your dog, cat or horse’s liver, kidneys and GI tract against the side effects of NSAIDs. When using curcumin as a treatment, it is important to use the highest potency and absorption rate available. (Maybe link to the article featured in the Knowledge Minute??)
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): Often recommended by veterinarians. Helps form glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and important amino acids. Animal studies have shown MSM helps maintain normal articular cartilage. May also help inhibit pain.
  • Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus): Research shows that perna mussels are effective in managing degenerative joint diseases and arthritis (in both animals and humans). Less joint pain, joint stiffness, inflammation and improved mobility have been shown.
  • Bromelain: An anti-inflammatory and pain reducer.
  • Boswellia: An anti-inflammatory which also increases blood supply to the joints for increased joint repair.
  • Vitamin C: Enhances the production of collagen which provides soft-tissue joint support.
  • Zinc, Selenium and Manganese: Helps the body utilize antioxidants.
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids: Helps reduce joint tenderness and morning stiffness.
  • Shark cartilage: Helps stimulate cartilage repair.
  • Acupuncture.
Arthritis/Degenerative
Joint Disease

– Canine and Feline Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)


FORMULAS

DOSAGE

MECHANISM/PURPOSE

Arthroplex12

Cats: 1 capsule sid
Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb bid

Anti-inflammatory; source of glycosaminoglycans, including glucosamine; decreases pain; supports production of collagen.

Buffered C Powder12

Cats: 125 mg bid
Dogs: 10 mg/lb bid

Stimulates phagocytic effect of leukocytes, nitrate scavenger, aids in synthesis of collagen and carnitine.

Calcium-Magnesium
Citramate12 

Dogs: ¼ capsule/25 lb bid

Use in addition to a pure calcium or calcium/phosphorus supplement; metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids; catalyst for many enzymes; required for ATP production.

CurcuVET- SA5012

Cats: ½ capsule daily
Dogs: 1 capsule per 25 lb daily

Curcumin has ant-inflammatory properties, hepatoprotective effects, increases glutathione levels, down-regulates tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), nitric oxide (NO), and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), decreases free radicals in colonic mucosa.

CurcuVET-SA15012

Dogs: 1 capsule per 75 lb daily

Curcumin has ant-inflammatory properties, hepatoprotective effects, increases glutathione levels; down-regulates TNF-α, NO, and NF-κB; decreases free radicals in colonic mucosa.

DL-Phenylalanine12

Cats: 125 mg bid
Dogs: 10 mg/lb bid

Analgesic.  

E400 Selenium26

Cats: ¼ tablet sid
Dogs: ¼ tablet/25 lbs sid

Antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; vitamin E and selenium are synergistic. Selenium in high doses is toxic; vitamin E in high doses can raise blood pressure and can increase coagulation time. Do not exceed recommended dose; use less in case of heart failure or if animal is on digoxin.

Glucosamine &
Chondroitin12

Cats: ¼ capsule sid
Dogs: ½ capsule/25 lb sid

This combination stimulates the production of cartilage cells, while inhibiting destructive enzymatic action on those cells. 

Glucosamine Sulfate12

Cats: ¼ capsule sid
Dogs: ½ capsule/25 lb sid

Important building block of cartilage.

Glycoflex II8

Dogs: as directed by weight

Anti-inflammatory; nutrients for cartilage formation.

Glycoflex II Double Strength8

Dogs: as directed by weight

Anti-inflammatory; nutrients for cartilage formation.

Glycoflex II for Cats8

Cats: as directed by weight

Anti-inflammatory; nutrients for cartilage formation.

Joint-Ease™27

1 capsule per 20 lb bid or
1 scoop per 20 lb bid

Supports normal joint mobility and healthy joint function.

Jointagen8

½ to 1 tablet per 30 lb

Provides support for connective tissue, skin, and joints. Designed specifically for dogs with greater need for joint and connective tissue support. 

PhytoprofenVET12

Cats: 1 capsule sid
Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb bid

Anti-inflammatory herbs.  

Small Animal Antioxidant12

Cats: 1 capsule sid
Dogs: 2 capsules/25 lb sid

Antioxidants to reduce damage to joints.

 

To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)

 


Exercise

The proper exercise is critical for the arthritic dog, cat or horse. Avoiding all exercise will cause the joints to ‘seize up’ and allow for further degradation of the affected joint. Light (and proper) exercise helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint thereby helping to stabilize the joint; it keeps the tendons and ligaments flexible, encourages blood flow to the joint and also prevents obesity.

Just like for people, low-impact exercise works best for animals living with arthritis. Swimming or walking under water (aquatic therapy) strengthens the muscles around the affected joints and helps maintain a more stable joint. Controlled leash walking is also recommended for your canine. DO NOT play fetch with your arthritic dog to avoid reinjuring or overstressing the joint. It is important to supervise your arthritic animal as much as possible. Once proper treatment (including drug-related and/or homeopathic) begins reducing or eliminating the symptoms of pain and/or stiffness, your dog, cat or horse may try to resume their normal level of activity since they are now feeling less pain. It is important to restrict them from doing this to reduce further injury, aggravation of the joints and additional pain.


Simple Home Remedies:                

  • Make sure your canine, feline or equine’s diet is a high-quality food with proper nutrients and supplements. Always make sure you’re feeding the proper amount of food to avoid excess weight which will only worsen the arthritic symptoms.
  • Properly provide supplements which reduce the swelling and pain from arthritis.
  • Raise your dog’s food and water dish (for the optimal feeder height for your canine, measure from the ground to the top of your dog's shoulder and then subtract six inches (for small dogs, subtract 4 inches).
  • Use a carpeted (offering good traction) ramp for stairs, couches or beds where your pet normally goes.
  • Put up a baby-gate to cut off access to stairs.
  • Put down non-skid runners on slippery surfaces like wood, linoleum or tile for traction and warmth.
  • If the litter box has high sides, cut a big enough opening on one side to allow for easy access for your feline. Leave just one or two inches at the bottom so litter does not spill out.
  • Keep your dog and his bed warm on cold, damp days. Use a soft, well-padded bed for your dog.
  • Apply moist heat to affected joints (a hot water bottle with warm water or a towel soaked in warm water).
  • Give your canine and feline a massage to increase flexibility, circulation and calmness. You should be trained by an animal massage professional beforehand to avoid hurting your dog or aggravating the affected joint.
  • Always supervise and support your dog when they are walking, climbing stairs or getting in or out of the car.
  • Groom your pet regularly. As flexibility and mobility becomes limited, so does self-grooming by your pet. Regular brushing helps maintain good hygiene and also helps relax and calm an anxious animal in discomfort.

Integrative Medicine – Horses Only

 

Not all animals can use all natural remedies; allergic reactions to oils
and/or herbs and digestive problems are possible.
A natural remedy is not a substitute for veterinary care.

 

In addition to the effective nutraceuticals listed above, the following supplements and/or drugs have also been shown to provide additional relief for horses living with arthritis.

  • Chia Seeds and Flax/Hemp Oil can provide effective treatment for equines living with arthritis.
  • Hyaluronate Sodium:  An intravenous, injectable (directly into the affected joint) solution available by prescription. Hyaluronate sodium quickly converts to hyaluronic acid in the joint offering an anti-inflammatory effect in the equine’s joint. It also seems to decrease the future degradation of the affected joint. Visible improvement has been shown after a series of injections. It can also be used in conjunction with oral supplements with no negative reactions.
  • Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG): Possibly the most powerful drug today for treating arthritis in horses. Protects existing cartilage from additional deterioration; may also help lay down new cartilage by binding itself to the existing cartilage structure.
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO): A common topical drug applied to the affected joint to reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs): Another common drug given orally or by injection to block pain and reduce inflammation. The use of NSAIDs in horses has been linked to equine gastrointestinal ulcers.
Arthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease

– Equine Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)


FORMULAS

DOSAGE

MECHANISM/PURPOSE

CurcuVET-EQ12 

1 scoop bid

Down-regulates the pro-inflammatory substances, tumor necrosis factor, alpha (TNF-α) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), supports normal joint function.

Limber Up14

4 tsp bid

Arthritis and stiffness, especially that worsens in cold and damp weather.

J-Flex Concentrate7

2000-4000 mg sid

Supports joint function.

Equinyl Combo9

3 scoops sid for 10 days, then 2 scoops sid

Glucosamine, chondroitin (can get with hyaluronic acid also), supports joint function, contains Vitamin C for synthesis of proteoglycans and collagen.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin12

6-10 capsules sid for 4 weeks, reduce to 4-8 capsules sid or as needed

This combination stimulates the production of cartilage cells while inhibiting destructive enzymatic action on those cells.

Hilton Multi

Flex2

Hilton Multi

HylaMotion9

½ oz sid

Hyaluronic acid reduces inflammation in joints, lubricates.

Noni IcyHeat15

Topical application to sore joints, as needed

Improves circulation, relieves pain. Use caution on front legs to prevent horse getting into eyes. Warming formula contains camphor. Can test positive.

Flax/Hemp Oil

3 tbsp sid

Anti-inflammatory; stabilizes membranes.

Chia Booster (chia seeds)19

1 scoop bid

Stabilizes membranes, source Omega 3 fatty acids.

Soreness Salve5

Topical application to sore joints, as needed

Improves circulation, relieves pain.

To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)


(Always consult with your veterinarian to properly diagnose any health problems. Misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment -- including OTC and/or homeopathic products -- can lead to dangerous complications.

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