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Structural Joint Problems in Dogs
A fresh food diet, a good exercise program, chiropractic and other supportive treatments won't eliminate a poorly structured hip, knee, or elbow, but they may eliminate the symptoms and the need for surgery.
We've seen great results from the strategies detailed below, and hope you'll try them before resorting to surgery.
Why Does Your Dog Hurt?
A poorly formed joint, however, is more likely to malfunction or be injured. If inflammation is present from injury, diet or disease, joint function is affected. Injuries change communication between the brain and the joint too.
When this happens, the information loop with the brain is impaired, and it deteriorates further as incorrect information is circulated. Over time, the muscles no longer support the joint properly. Your dog begins to limp. Cartilage deteriorates. Soon, bone is rubbing against bone, and your dog is in serious pain.
A veterinarian may X-ray the painful area. If a problem is seen, surgery is often recommended, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or steroids are often prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
Surgery as well as NSAIDs and steroids can be just as life-threatening to your pet, as they are to you. Eventually, the relief to be gained may outweigh the risks involved, but these are choices to consider only after diet, exercise and non-invasive medical supports have been explored.
A broader view of treatment focuses on healing. The goal is to improve the function of the entire body, allowing the problem area to heal. If the nervous system works properly, stability is restored to the joint. If dietary and functional causes of inflammation are removed, pain may be eliminated. The steps below will help you optimize the function of imperfect joints, and help your dog feel the very best he can.
Diet: The Major Influence
Inflammation and improper immune function are involved in all of these conditions:
· Irritable bowel syndrome
Dogs with these conditions are more at risk for joint inflammation because they already have high levels of inflammatory chemicals circulating in their bodies. Radical improvement is often seen when these dogs are switched to a grain- free, fresh food diet.
Keep your dog lean! A 14-year study by Nestle Purina
conclusively proved lean dogs have much less arthritis, live longer and
maintain muscle mass longer into old age. (1) Those muscles will help
to keep your dog moving well as he ages. If there is a joint problem,
removing the stress on joints caused by excess weight is essential.
Exercise Improves Everything
Swimming is an excellent non-weight bearing exercise to build the muscles that support joints without stressing them. Free swimming gets things moving beautifully, and can quickly make a radical change in how a dog feels. When pain doesn't interfere with movement in the supportive environment of the water, the body can move normally. Dogs feel better immediately. Gradually, the communication between brain and joints improves, and muscle starts to rebuild.
When your dog feels better, he'll be ready for more weight-bearing exercise. On land, walking and trotting, use the body in natural ways. Varied terrain (mild inclines, grass in addition to pavement) provides exercise for different muscle groups. As your dog becomes more fit, alternate short bursts of sprinting until he is out of breath with walking slower until he's ready to go again.
· Always remember to build slowly and watch
for signs of stress. If your dog isn't keeping up, it's not because he
Supportive Medical Treatment
Most dogs respond very well to chiropractic, tending to heal and rebuild muscle quickly. Often a few visits make a radical difference in how your dog feels. Visits may be frequent at first, then scheduled further apart. A young, fit dog with a joint problem may do well on quarterly maintenance. Old dogs that have severe, long-term problems may be seen monthly for maintenance, once major issues have been resolved.
Acupuncture is very effective for pain relief, and helps to remove energetic blockages to good health in all areas.
To find a practitioner, visit the sites of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Association. Personal recommendations may help you locate the most effective practitioner in your area.
Acupressure, Massage and
You don't have to be a medical professional to learn enough to help your animal considerably. The additional benefit is a deeper relationship with your dog!
Help Your Dog Live Longer!
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT: There is indeed a special relationship that exists between pets and their owners that goes far beyond the sharing of a home together. Our happy-go-lucky, four-legged friends also provide us with constant unconditional love, devotion, friendship and something else that might not be at the forefront of most people's minds -- health benefits.
If you have a dog, I highly recommend you read their excellent book, See Spot Live Longer. Using philosophies similar to my own regarding the importance of nutrition, See Spot Live Longer presents solid evidence that a good diet is just as important for dogs as it is for us. When fed a proper raw diet appropriate for their body, hundreds of people, including veterinarians, have witnessed vast health improvements in their dogs.
Authors Steve Brown and Beth Taylor, both pet health and nutrition experts, provide an all-inclusive argument for feeding your dog a naturally balanced raw meat, bone and vegetable-based diet that provides much higher quality nutrition than any dry or canned dog or cat food. By convincingly covering all the bases, readers will:
· Review case studies of dogs and cats with
chronic illness that improved after fed a healthy diet of fresh food.