Many clients in my practice want to avoid pharmaceuticals in their aging pets for as long as possible. Luckily, arthritis is one place where holistic medicine shines. In this article I am going to give you a complete plan to help your dog or cat’s arthritis holistically. I am also going to give a few tips to prevent arthritis if you have a younger animal.
This is the approach I use for the patient’s in my practice.
1. Chiropractic – Think of chiropractic like getting the tires aligned on your car. Joints sometimes need help with alignment. I have seen this be life changing for so many pets. I often use this as my first therapy to see what kind of lasting results a few adjustments can cause. It’s important that you use a veterinarian or a chiropractor with extensive experience adjusting animals. While generally safe, chiropractic can cause harm when done with excessive force or used in the wrong situation. To locate a practitioner near you click here.
2. Acupuncture – I have helped countless dogs and cats live longer without pain and with more mobility using acupuncture. With the exception of elbow arthritis, acupuncture almost always helps animals with arthritis. (Elbow arthritis can be helped with acupuncture but not as dramatically.) Most animals improve after the first session, but it may take up to three sessions to see results. If you don’t see any results past the three sessions, it may be time to find a different practitioner or move on to a different modality. To find a veterinary acupuncturist near you try IVAS or Chi Institute.
3. Laser therapy – This is a great modality for decreasing inflammation and and lessening the pain of arthritis. This therapy is becoming very popular even amongst traditional veterinarians. I find the best results with a Class IV laser as it delivers more joules(energy) to each location. Laser therapy is contraindicated for some conditions including cancer. Check with your veterinarian to see if they offer laser therapy.
4. Moving – This is an often overlooked treatment. It is important that dogs and cats with arthritis never stop moving. Daily leash walks for dogs are critical. If you are lucky enough to have the rare leash trained cat, then keep them walking! If not, keep your kitty moving with toys and play. A good time to play with your cat is right before a meal. If your dog is too arthritic to go for leash walks consider hydrotherapy (swimming) as a great non-weight bearing alternative. Underwater treadmills are also great for this as well.
5. CBD – Cannabis has shown great promise to help both dogs and cats with pain from arthritis. I have seen excellent results for both cats and dogs. Cannabis with high levels of CBD and less than 0.3% THC are legal in all 50 states. For cats I use HempRx oil or HempRx Soft Chewz. For dogs I like to use HempRx, HempRx Soft Chewz and Cannacompanion. CBD can take up to 4-6 weeks to show benefit, so be patient. To learn more about the use of Cannabis in dogs and cats in these articles.
6. Supplements – I am not a huge fan of supplements but there are a few that can be really helpful in arthritis animals.
- Fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids can be helpful for all forms of inflammation. I use Nordic Naturals and trust their manufacturing process.
- Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM. While this is a better preventative than treatment, it is still worth adding. If your pet has a shellfish allergy, avoid this supplement. I use Glycoflex III in my practice. Be sure to read the label and make sure that your pet is not allergic to any of the food ingredients in this product.
7. Massage – I have seen amazing results for both dogs and cats using this modality. You can learn to massage your animal at home or have a certified canine/feline massage therapist treat your pet. This is a great drug free way to help pets feel better and stay active.
Of course, there are other modalities and supplements that can be beneficial for the management of arthritis. These are the seven modalities I use frequently in my practice. I also use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Rimadyl when needed. I prefer to use these drugs on an ‘as needed’ basis instead of everyday. Rimadyl and other drugs can be hard on the liver and digestive tract. However, the benefits and risks must be evaluated for each animal individually. It is important to work with your veterinarian to find a plan that feels comfortable for you and is effective in managing your pet’s discomfort.
Does your pet have arthritis? What do you do to manage the symptoms?