Natural Remedies and Relief for Dogs with Arthritis, Joint Pain, Hip Dysplasia and Shoulder OCD
Why is my dog limping?
Like so many other families, we own a Labrador retriever. Our Charlie is sweet, smart, goofy, ridiculous, destructive, obsessive and super lovable. Although he digs up the flower bed for entertainment and eats freshly thrown newspapers for breakfast (on those mornings when he has escaped the backyard fence), we still love him and always will. When he began limping at about nine months of age, we were concerned, as labs are known to be susceptible to joint problems. We were also incredibly squeezed for funds that month. I googled his symptoms, and while I'm not a vet, I got the impression from my research that he might have something called shoulder osteochondrosis, or shoulder OCD. It looked as though it was time for hundreds of dollars worth of x-rays and possibly thousands of dollars worth of surgery.
Fish Oil for Dogs
Based on my internet research, I began giving Charlie a fish oil supplement every day. Many dogs' diets are lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, and a fish oil supplement can help remedy that. Even if you feed your dog a commercial dog food that is enriched with omega-3 fatty acid, as many are these days, chances are your dog still needs a supplement, as most dog food manufacturers aren't adding enough omega-3 to their dog foods. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported a study which found that arthritic dogs were able to rise more easily from a resting position after being given fish oil supplements for six weeks, and had an improved ability to walk after 12 weeks. I simply put one capsule in his wet food every day and he gobbles up the entire portion without even noticing the capsule. I give him the same supplements we take ourselves; there is no need to purchase special fish oil supplements for dogs.
Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid for Dogs
Like fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid are supplements intended for human consumption. However, they will not harm your dog and may even help your furry friend. These substances have helped plenty of people and pets alike with joint problems. While you might think that three more supplements sounds like a lot, these three are often combined into one supplement. Our Charlie weights about 80 pounds, so I give him one pill each day, which for the brand I buy is half the recommended human dosage. Unlike the fish oil capsules, he does seem to mind these. To get him to take it, I crush it and sprinkle it over his wet food. My lime squeezer (normally reserved for making margaritas!) works well for crushing the tablets.
More Meat and Vegetables
From my research I also learned that most dogs eat too much grain and not enough meat and vegetables. Evidently, feeding dogs corn and other grains is something that humans invented and perpetuate; in the wild, dogs eat mostly meat and vegetables. A grain-free or low-grain diet can help ease joint pain in dogs. While Charlie does not consume a grain-free diet, I do make sure the dog food I buy for him, both dry and wet, has meat as its first ingredient. Since I'm on the subject of dog food, I'll throw in the matter of a dog's weight. Charlie is young and very active, and at this point in his life he is not overweight. However, if your dog is overweight, help him or her slim down, as being overweight can cause or exacerbate joint pain.
Soft Places To Walk and Rest
Unfortunately for the dogs who live with us, we have concrete floors. While concrete floors' good looks and easy upkeep are great for me as a parent and a dog owner, and great for my kids (indoor roller skating, anyone?) they are not so great for the dogs. I'm sad to say that my poor puppies' joints take a pounding on these floors, not to mention all the slipping and sliding the dogs do when they attempt to run. To remedy this I have made sure that our dogs have a large, thick, soft, memory foam bed to lie on when they're inside. In fact, we have one in the living room and one in the office, as those are the two rooms where the dogs spend the most time. In all rooms of the house I have placed large area rugs with thick pads underneath. Of course, the humans of our home enjoy and benefit from the rugs as much as the dogs do.
I am happy to report that within a few weeks of beginning Charlie's supplement regimen, he stopped limping. He is three years old now, and the limping has not returned. However, once he stopped limping, I did not stop giving him the supplements. I give them to him every day and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. I buy the large bottles from the warehouse store, and the cost is very manageable. He loves his beds and the rugs and spends lots of time on them, which I'm sure is helpful, too. Like I stated earlier, I'm no veterinarian. Maybe it's sheer luck that he stopped limping. Maybe he simply strained a muscle or two and his limping had nothing to do with his joints. I don't know, because I'm not a vet, and since he stopped limping there was no need to pursue further treatment. But I am happy to say that today he is healthy, happy, active and strong. Too bad he still eats the newspaper.