Many pets develop some form of arthritis with age or even early in life. Dogs are more likely to develop arthritis than cats and they’re also more likely to show changes in behavior due to their condition. Treating arthritis is limited to symptom relief because the diseases are generally considered irreversible.
Treatment also involves slowing down or stopping diseases progression. Unfortunately, conventional treatment options such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and corticosteroids (cortisone) can be damaging to overall health which is why pet owners often turn to herbal remedies as a safer option. In this article, we explain how you too can use herbs to help your pet find relief.
Arthritis is a general term for a great number of diseases affecting the joints. These diseases can result and are a result of damage to different joint tissue such as cartilage, the synovial fluid, surrounding bones, the joint sac, muscles, and connective tissue. However, most cases of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in both humans and pets.
These diseases usually affect older pets but can happen to younger pets as well. When young animals are afflicted, it is usually due to congenital abnormalities. Some breeds are more likely to develop arthritis in dogs than others.
Arthritis is usually a result of permanent damage to the joint tissue and it is irreversible. Your pet may be in pain, as a result, be reluctant to move, and the joints may be visibly swollen and tender.
Why Conventional Medication Can Be Dangerous?
Although your pet may find relief from conventional arthritis medicine, none of these drugs are suitable for your pet in the long run according to Randy Kidd, D.V.M.
Some of the well-known side effects of conventional treatments include stomach ulcers, liver and kidney problems, and in some cases, even death. To complicate matters further, some studies even found that drugs like NSAIDs seem to contribute to cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis.
As mentioned earlier, most conventional treatment options today focus on relieving the symptoms of arthritis but the same treatments may end up doing more harm than good.
Why Choose Alternative Remedies?
Some herbal and other natural remedies collectively called nutraceuticals have been used for centuries in the treatment of arthritis pain and inflammation. Most of these remedies are completely safe and free of side effects and many are as effective as conventional drugs.
Herbs contain powerful chemicals that are able to reduce inflammation, promote healing, stimulate cartilage repair, and block pain. Since nutraceuticals are considered safe, they can be used for extended periods of time and even as preventive medicine. Nutraceuticals may also be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for best results.
Popular Herbs For Arthritis
Some of the most popular herbs used for the treatment of arthritis in humans are also used for pets. For instance, willow bark (Salix spp.) is the plant from which Aspirin is made. It contains anti-inflammatory ingredients called salicylates that have been used for centuries in treating pain and inflammation.
A systematic review of the effectiveness of willow bark extract in treating pain shows that it is effective in treating moderate osteoarthritis pain but not rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Other anti-inflammatory herbs include St. John’s wort, feverfew, turmeric, and cayenne. Turmeric has proved especially beneficial in treating arthritis due to the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of its main constituent – curcumin.
Herbs such as oregano, basil, ginger, parsley, and celery are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds, usually vitamins, that help scavenge free radicals in the body and thus slow down disease progression.
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an unpaired group of electrons that can damage cells. Studies show that free radicals play a great role in the development of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
Increasing your pet’s intake of antioxidants through antioxidant-rich herbs may reduce the burden of free radicals in the body. You can sprinkle these herbs over your pet’s food or purchase a supplement form that contains greater levels of these herbs and their extracts.
How to Give Your Pet Herbal Remedies for Arthritis?
Many companies sell supplements for arthritis in pets that contain one or several herbal ingredients. Your veterinarian may also suggest a good supplement for your pet containing these ingredients.
You may also sprinkle these herbs over your pet’s food or find tinctures specifically designed for pets. However, make sure to keep these supplements away from your pets as cases of poisoning from an overdose on these supplements have been reported.
Pets can suffer from the same age-related ailments that humans suffer from. Keeping an eye on your aging pet will help you catch signs of arthritis early on. The sooner your pet begins treatment, the better the outcomes.
If your pet has a genetic predisposition for arthritis, it would be a good idea to introduce preventive herbal remedies. Also, make sure your pet is active and keep their weight at healthy levels to prevent joint damage.