Does your dog have degenerative joint disease otherwise known as osteoarthritis? Has it been difficult to treat? There are many different treatment options to control this disease process. Many of them work well and some do not work at all and it is very dependent on the individual dog. There is one treatment that stands out above all others as a significant improvement to the dog’s health and comfort.
No, it is not giving him a ton of supplements. It is not giving him a bunch of anti-inflammatory pills everyday. It is not chiropractic or acupuncture. No – the number one treatment and preventative of osteoarthritis in dogs is optimal weight using a restricted diet.
Most dogs with symptomatic osteoarthritis are overweight. What do I mean by symptomatic? It means they are actually sore, having a difficult time standing up after laying, difficulty with stairs, difficulty jumping, can not walk for long distances without limping, etc. etc. Now there are dogs with osteoarthritis that are not symptomatic and guess what these dogs are usually at their ideal weight or even thinner.
Studies have shown that dogs on a restricted diet do not have problems with osteoarthritis. Even dogs with trauma induced arthritis such as found in a torn meniscus from a knee injury, do much better at a lighter weight. Dogs with surgical repairs to their knees do markedly much better when they are thin and not heavy.
Here are a couple of those research studies –
A longitudinal study of the influence of lifetime food restriction on development of osteoarthritis in the canine elbow.
The effects of lifetime food restriction on the development of osteoarthritis in the canine shoulder.
Diet restriction and ageing in the dog: major observations over two decades.
Effect of weight reduction on clinical signs of lameness in dogs with hip osteoarthritis.
This last study showed that weight loss alone can result in a significant improvement in lameness in a dog with osteoarthritis.
So be sure to keep your dogs weight under control by reducing the amount of food they consume and increasing the amount of activity the dog does. You know just like us – less calories and more exercise and you will have your weight under control. A fat dog is not a happy dog it is an unhealthy dog. So keep your dog at an ideal weight and you will have a happy healthier dog with less problems with osteoarthritis.
Found a good blog post from another blogger at the Daily Tail on Halloween Safety Tips. With Halloween just around the corner be sure to follow these tips to keep your dog safe and healthy. One other tip – as a dog lover you should have healthy dog treats at your door if you get dog trick-or-treaters!
Tip: Have a safe Halloween with your pet
Halloween can be a lot of fun for you and your pet. Plan ahead, so you make sure you both won’t be exposed to dangerous or uncomfortable situations. Here are ten tips so you prepare yourselves for Halloween:
Read more about Safe Halloween tips for your dog
Had one of my clients bring their dog in today for treatment of a hot spot. A hot spot is sore on your dog. It is a bacterial infection of the skin usually caused by trauma. Now most of the time it is self-induced trauma from licking or scratching due to allergies.
About 80 to 90% of the time you can take these simple steps to treat a hot spot –
1. Shave the hair from the area. Hair can trap moisture at the affected site and continue the irritation to the sore. Remove the hair will allow the hot spot to dry.
2. Wash with an antibacterial soap. Cleaning the affected area twice daily with an antibacterial soap to kill the bacteria causing the continued irritation and infection.
3. Apply an astringent to help ease the itching. A natural astringent that you may have at home is a tea bag. Place a cool but moist tea bag on the affected area several times a day. The tannic acid in the tea acts as an astringent. Otherwise other natural astringents are lavender oil and tea tree oil. There are other preparations your veterinarian may have to help relieve the itching. Do not put an ointment on the area as this will not allow the area to dry.
4. Prevent the dog from scratching and/or licking the area. If you can not stop the self-induced trauma the hot spot will not heal. Use a device to prevent the dog from irritating the spot more, such as an Elizabethean collar or even a t-shirt if the spot is on the body. Do not bandage the area because again it needs air to get to the spot to dry it out.
If you have a dog that has a hot spot that is one of the 20% that does not resolve using these simple methods, you will need to bring your dog to the vet and it will possibly need oral antibiotics to help clear up the secondary underlying infection.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy is a viable alternative to drugs for the treatment of pain in dogs due to a variety of causes such as arthritis, surgery, inflammation, and wounds. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy or PEMF affects pain perception in many different ways. It affects calcium ion movement, endorphin levels, acupuncture point stimulation, nerve regeneration, circulation, tissue oxygen, and even cellular metabolism. All these affects help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
How does it work? No one really has a definitive answer but there are some good theories and some good scientifically based research pointing to some very likely causes of the success of this treatment. One of the more prominent and most likely reasons for the reduction of pain and inflammation has to do with the calcium ion movement that an electrical field causes in the body. PEMF therapy causes a natural anti-inflammatory process to occur more rapidly. It binds Calcium and in a cascade of events produces Nitric Oxide (NO), a natural anti-inflammatory. NO then continues the natural healing process by reducing pain, improving blood flow, reducing swelling and helps in the production of a molecule called cGMP, a growth factor producer. This growth factor producer helps in the regeneration of blood vessels and tissue growth and remodeling.
In the past the machines that produced the electromagnetic fields were large and very powerful. New research however has suggested that the fields do not have to be so large to produce great healing effects. Also with the advancement of technology now we can produce a good healing PEMF with a very small device powered by simple batteries. One of the devices available for dogs is made by the company ASSISI Animal Health. Assisi makes 2 types of units one for the veterinarian for use in the office and a portable PEMF unit for an owner to bring home and do treatments at home. Considering that treatments should be given for up to 15 min twice a day for 2 weeks or even longer for dogs suffering with arthritis, the portable units are an excellent choice. The cost is about $250 for a unit which gives 90 15 min treatments which is about $2.75 a treatment and should last about 6 weeks. For an injury such as a cruciate ligament tear and subsequent surgery this is perfect.
One of my clients is currently using them for her dog and the severe degeneration in its knee joints. The dog is doing very well with nutritional supplements and using the unit every other day for 15 minutes and no need for pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, so there is no risk of stomach ulcers or liver damage. PEMF is a great tool for veterinarians and dog owners in the treatment of pain. Check out Assisi if your dog is experiencing pain. they will send information to your veterinarian for you.
I have a new simple theme for the blog. I will be back posting on a regular basis. I apologize for letting this site lay dormant as I attended to other projects. However my first love is giving information about dog and horse health and so my 2 blogs on these subjects will be updated frequently again.
This blog will be about dog health and my specialties of alternative and sports medicine. Injuries and helping your dog improve its movement whether it is a top notch sporting dog or just an old timer having difficulty getting around, I will share with you ways to improve their movement and also their health.
Thank you for reading and staying with me. Looking forward to getting back to writing.