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Dogs who are slow to get up in the morning, walk stiffly or avoid stairs may be experiencing joint pain. Older and larger dogs may be affected by osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage or cushion in the joints breaks down. Dogs with osteoarthritis experience swelling, stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis affects at least 20% of dogs over one year of age. In the larger dogs and breeds which grow rapidly, that rate can reach 75% to 90%. Early treatment may improve joint mobility and slow down the rate of damage. However, dogs with osteoarthritis can experience reduced pain through a therapeutic program that includes diet changes, supplements and medication.
One of the first steps that should be taken to deal with arthritis is weight loss. Excessive weight puts added stress on joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also be beneficial to joint health by reducing inflammation. These can be added either through special veterinary diet foods, or through natural supplements with these fatty acids and additional joint-supporting ingredients like glucosamine, chrondroitin and MSM. These supplements are an alternative treatment when traditional anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are not an option, due to other medical issues like kidney, liver or stomach problems. Some supplements include medically active herbs such boswellia and turmeric, plant extracts with analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with joint pain and inflammation. In come cases, supplements may work as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, and may be used in addition to anti-inflammatories. When a pet receives any herbal supplement, you need to inform your veterinarian because interactions with other medications may occur.
Chronic pain can be relieved with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which work quickly and effectively to reduce inflammation and pain. These drugs should only be taken under your veterinarian’s direction.