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Arthritis & Hip Dysplasia Problems
As our pets get older, they may suffer the same complications of repetitive strain on the joints and tendons as humans do, and can lose some of the lubricating fluid between the joints and vertebrae. Many dogs and cats also suffer from hip dysplasia, which is the result of abnormal development of the hip joint. One or both hips may be involved and it occurs when the combination of weak or poorly developed muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments that should support and maintain joint health is deficient. The term dysplasia refers to the bones surrounding the joint not being held in place properly allowing them to actually move apart causing instability in the joint and the resultant pain, limping and restricted movement suffered by the animal. Hip dysplasia may begin in animals as young as five months old and will only worsen steadily without intervention or treatment. More commonly, hip dysplasia is seen in middle-aged to older animals and is often accompanied by osteoarthritis.
The Importance of Glucosamine and Other Nutrients
One of the key ingredients necessary for cartilage repair is glucosamine. Normally in healthy pets, the body can produce sufficient glucosamine to provide for joint repair. Under arthritic conditions, the need for glucosamine increases. If the body cannot provide enough glucosamine to meet this increased need then the joint repair process suffers and joints can become damaged. Chondroitin sulfate is the major glycosaminoglycan found in cartilage; it also helps inhibit enzymes that are destructive to the joint and has been shown to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Since chondroitin production by the body decreases with aging, supplementation with this compound may be especially helpful for older pets with arthritis.
Addressing the Inflammation of Arthritis
It is vitally important to control the inflammatory process, otherwise there will be further damage to the joint and inhibition of the joint repair process. Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) is an excellent source of sulphur, which is a key element in many compounds manufactured by the body to help control pain and inflammation. There are several herbs that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects: Boswellia serrata has been shown to provide anti-inflammatory relief from arthritis by inhibiting proinflammatory 5-lipoxygenase chemicals and blocking leukotriene synthesis.¹ Devil's claw has been reported in some laboratory studies to have significant pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.²
DIET & EXERCISE
There are several lifestyle factors that contribute to the onset and severity of arthritis such as poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise, just to name a few.
Weight loss, dietary changes, and carefully managed exercise levels are extremely important for pets suffering from osteoarthritis. Failure to address these issues will only exacerbate the problem. Try to buy foods and treats based on quality, not price. Many commercially produced foods contain chemical substances that can negatively affect your pet’s health, especially in the long-term. The growing trend today is to feed human grade foods that are fresh and organic. Raw foods for instance contain many essential nutrients and minerals that may be destroyed by cooking and processing. Just as we need to eat a wide range of foods to ensure optimum health, so do our pets. Exercise is also very important to the health of your pet. Take your dog for a walk at least daily and play rambunctiously with your cat frequently. A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to a sluggish metabolism, which can cause weight gain.
1. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2004 Feb;146(2):71-9, Dietary support with Boswellia resin in canine inflammatory joint and spinal disease.
2. Wegener T. [Degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system–overview of current clinical studies of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophyti radix)]. Wien Med Wochenschr . 2002;152(15-16):389-92