Many times dogs are affected by canine arthritis (osteoarthritis) which is caused by the degradation of the cartilage within a joint. The cartilage functions as a buffer between the bones – once the cartilage breaks down, it reduces the function of the joint and creates pain and/or stiffness. While minimal breakdown of the cartilage can produce an uncomfortable condition, severe arthritis – which can progress to bone on bone contact – can become a debilitating and extremely painful disease.
All dogs will inevitably exhibit some signs of arthritis in their senior years, normally between the ages of 10 to 15 years old, but canine arthritis is not only limited to older dogs. Inactive and overweight dogs are the most likely candidates for canine arthritis though it can appear in younger dogs as well – sometimes due to an accident or injury. Hip dysplasia for instance, is a condition characterized as the malformation of the hip socket and is one disease that may leave a young dog crippled by arthritis.
There are several different types of arthritis – the most common variation being osteoarthritis. There are several symptoms that can be used to diagnose this condition. Some of the most common ones are:
* Stiffness of the joints after exercise
* Difficulty sitting, standing, or jumping
* Hesitancy to jump
* Reduced activity level
* Trouble getting up in the morning
* Lagging behind on walks
* Yelping in pain when touched
* Personality change resisting touch
* Loss of appetite or unusual weight gain
* Unusual urinating in the house
* Depression or withdrawn behavior
Minor relief from arthritis conditions can be gained by adding a supplement to your pet’s daily food regimen, but be aware that it takes time to gain the benefits from these supplements. Using omega essential fatty acids have also been successful to control inflammation. This is a much safer approach than the use of harmful steroids which only provide temporary relief.
Diet plays an important role in arthritis treatment especially in controlling the dog’s weight. Excess weight causes more stress on the joints and exacerbates existing arthritis pain. For puppies, it is important to prevent too rapid weight gain which can be caused by kibble diets that contain high levels of carbohydrates.
Arthritis and stiff joints can also be a telltale sign of a nutrient deficiency. A subclinical deficiency means that the body’s nutrient stores of vitamins, minerals and trace elements have been drained, resulting in a loss of optimal health and impairment of body processes leading to a variety of degenerative diseases. (1)
The destruction of many of the vital and essential nutrients in processed canned or kibble diets have led to a subclinical deficiency in many of our higher performance dogs. Obviously, the more stress that is put on the joints, the higher demand for greater nutrient levels to maintain the animal’s mobility. The fact that most of today’s commercial pet food choices are deficient in these essential nutrients compounds the problem. Thus our veterinary offices are now filled with cases of arthritis, obesity and allergy issues.
Canned and kibble diets – which are heat-processed – do not provide a 100% balanced diet for our dogs and cats. Once the vital nutrients are altered or destroyed by extreme heat, you cannot substitute synthetic vitamins and minerals back in and have them be anywhere as effective and utilized in the body compared to the way nature has provided them. So it is best to feed your pet fresh, raw foods and eliminate as many processed pet foods as possible. This will provide the best possible defense against a subclinical nutrient deficiency.
Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. He and his wife love to travel around the world with their dog, Moxie – a Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese mix. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.