Q: My Golden Retriever is 13 years old and has recently been diagnosed with arthritis and may be diabetic too. Although he’s currently on a strict diet and exercise regime (slow walks daily), I want him to be able to live a pain-free life for the remainder of his days. My vet recommended acupuncture, but I’m not quite sure how it works. How would you treat a dog with arthritis and what kind of treatment plan is involved?
A: One of the things I always do first is look at diet, and make sure the diet is going to support your dog as it gets older – arthritis is a degenerative condition, and a good source of high quality, highly digestible food will help slow down the disease process – this is best supplied by a raw food, fully balanced diet. I would then add some dietary supplements to support the joints – shark cartilage, green lipped mussel, omega 3 (flax oil or fish oil) and boron are key nutrients to control arthritis and accelerate natural repair to the joint surfaces. Adding some chromium will also assist your dog’s insulin production and help control or prevent diabetes. Acupuncture is quite effective at providing pain relief for arthritis, and it works by stimulating the body’s natural production of endorphins (natural opioid pain killers). The draw-back is that it will usually require repeat treatments, and not all dogs like the treatment.
You may choose to use a natural anti-inflammatory herb like Devils claw, or you can choose a traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), like Meloxicam or Carprofen (Rimadyl). As long as you are feeding a good raw diet high in protein, and using the supplements to promote natural repair to the joints, then choosing to use a traditional NSAID is a good combination to ensure the best pain free future for your dog. I have also had very good results using a magnetic collar in combination with the above suggestions.
Always make sure you keep up regular but gentle exercise (as you have described above) as joint function and muscle tone will deteriorate if your dog becomes lazy and does not keep moving. Keep your dog on the thinner side of normal also, as any extra bodyweight will exaggerate the pain of arthritis.
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