Hi everyone, this post is dedicated to any of my friends who, like me, are suffering from arthritis or other joint problems. As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my right elbow at 18 months of age. It was a direct result from an injury I suffered as a pup, nonetheless, it left me in constant pain and discomfort. ( click here to read the full story )
Fortunately for me, mom was able to work with a wonderful group of vets (holistic/conventional/chiropractic/rehab) who all strived toward the same goal - make me feel better. I am very grateful for all their hard work, and am happy to say that I have not limped in my diseased elbow for over 4 years now!! I can run and play like most healthy dogs without coming back lame, and that makes my quality of life GRRRRRREAT!!
Here are things we did (and are still doing) that gave me the quality of life I deserved:
Note: Please keep in mind that each individual is unique to him/herself, so what worked for me, may or may not have the same effect on you.
ACUPUNCTURE - Acupuncture can work well on some dogs but do very little for others. However, patience is the key. It took me a good 4-6 weekly sessions to kick start my system in responding to acupuncture. After that initial 4-6 weeks, my body really started to respond to the acupuncture and my elbow never got as inflamed (warm or heat) or swollen as it used to get. The way my Auntie Janice explained it was that the acupuncture was able to get the inflammation process in my joint to the lowest possible point. So I was able to do what most healthy dogs could do without coming back limping or in pain. Sometimes we ran current through the needles over the most problematic joints to provide stronger stimulation to the acupoints.
CHIROPRACTICS - Since I have an arthritic elbow, I tend to over compensate with my other leg. When that happens, my entire body gets thrown off balance starting with my spine, then my muscles tighten in places where they shouldn't. So I used to see my chiro-vet, Dr. Gail Jewell once a months to have my muscles loosen, and have my spine put back into place. Now I see Dr. Jewell once every 6-8 weeks. Note to self: tell mom to make an appointment for me!!
HYDROTHERAPY - Hydrotherapy is just a fancy word for rehab therapy done in water. There are many forms of hydrotherapy, including: under water ultrasound, underwater treadmill, and of course, controlled swimming. The type of hydrotherapy I get is controlled swimming. Mom takes me to the ocean or lake during the summer months since the water isn't too cold, however, during the colder months, I go to a doggie rehab center with a heated pool. I really like the heated pool because I not only can do exercise to gain muscles without putting any stress on my diseased elbow, the heat from the water also increases circulation to my joints and that's always helpful!! My rehab vet, Dr. Jeff Bowra says that the more muscles I get, the more support I have for my unstable/arthritic joints.
This is a video taken when I was doing rehab with my therapist after my knee surgeries (that I have completely recovered from). We had to be careful that I didn't over do in the pool, so I wore a life jacket. However, I don't wear the life jacket now when I'm rehabbing my elbow.
Here are some useful links:
My rehab center-The SPAW
Links to Canine Rehab Centers in USA & Canada
Links to facilities providing animal Physio-Therapy worldwide
These are for you Charlie ;-)
Dogs In Motion-Physio and Hydrotherapy center for dogs
ANIMAL Physiotherapy Services
SUPPLEMENTS - The following are supplements on mom's "must" list for joint problems.
***"Liquid" glucosamine/chodroitin: Mom has noticed that I am a lot less stiff when I take my glucosamine/chodroitin in liquid form because it is better absorbed and utilized by the body. The one that I use is called Cortaflex. What's special about Cortaflex is that it contains the amino acid "precursors" to what would become glucosamine and chodroitin. When the body is presented with these precursors, it will not only absorb it completely, it will also start producing glucosamine/chodroitin itself. Most other glucosamine/chodroitin supplements out there, be it liquid or tabs have the synthetically made glucosamine and chondroitin. They work on people and animals who are able to properly absorb the synthetic glu/cho, but does very little to nothing for people and animals who are not able to absorb them completely, if at all.
Mom sometimes alternate Cortaflex with Syn-Flex just so my body doesn't get use to one thing and stop responding. Syn-Flex just contains the glu/cho, not the precursors, but I seem to respond well to it too.
***Canine Musculoskeletal Support (scroll down the drop list) by Standard Process:
- "Canine Musculoskeletal SupportÂ combines ingredients from whole food sources to provide support for the joints and periarticular tissues, as well as general strengthening of ligaments and tendons through a multi-organ approach. These nutrients include important animal tissue concentrates, whole vitamin complexes, minerals, botanicals, and phytonutrients specifically formulated to support joints and associated tissues."
- "Canine Musculoskeletal SupportÂ contains specific whole vitamin complexes and ProtomorphogenÂ and CytosolÂ extracts to enhance the ability of joints and associated tissues to respond to fluctuating physical and metabolic demands while promoting tissue regeneration at the cellular level."
You got all that??
Okay......... I just know that it really works well for me................ and my mom swears by it.
***Proteolytic enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes work to break down harmful proteins in the body, including in the joint capsules, hence, giving the anti-inflammatory effect. They should be taken on an empty stomach for anti-inflammatory purposes, or else they become digestive enzymes when taken with food.
There are many different formulas out there; the one that I get is called Wobenzym N. Mom alternates Wobenzym with Canine Musculoskeletal Support mentioned above, just because I seem to be doing really well. However, if I do get worse, mom will not hesitate adding both to my daily regime.
Scroll down on this page, click on "The Whole Dog Journal article - "Digest These Benefits"" to read about how Wobenzym benefits dogs.
***Fish body oil high in EPA & DHA: The omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are known to benefit people with heart disease, kidney disease, and arthritis. Try to avoid flaxseed oil as it contains alpha linoleic acid(ALA) which is later converted in the body into the more active non-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA). However, studies have shown that many species of pets and even some people cannot convert ALA into the other beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, supplementing omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil that has EPA & DHA in forms readily available is more beneficial.
Theraputic dosage is 1000mg/10 lbs of body weight. So for me, I get between 6000mg-7000mg of fish oil per day. If you are a big dog like me (60+ lbs), you might find that a liquid formula is more economical for your mom, and also easier than taking 6+ pills a day!!!
Omega 6 & 9 are big NO NO's as they are "pro" inflammatory!
***Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect cells from damaging oxidation by free radicals, and has been shown beneficial to arthritis, and many other ailments. The formulas mom alternates are CRYSTAL PLEX and ENZOGENOL (similar to the more well known Pycnogenol).
TIPS AROUND THE HOUSE - Make it clear to your parents that they should try to make your house more accomodating and accessible for your arthritic joints!! Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- put a ramp over stairs where it is possible
- if you have laminate flooring or hardwood floors at home, put runners, mats, or puzzle mats like I have to provide better traction and prevent slipping
- if you are a spoiled rotten brat like me with no manners, and is allowed on beds and furnitures, ask your parents nicely if they would consider moving their mattress down to the floor, or get a low bed frame so you can easily step on and off the bed without having to jump up, or endure the impact upon jumping off. This is my bed that I sometimes let my mom borrow. See how low it is to the ground??
- if moving the mattress down or low bed frame is not possible, then consider getting a piece of 7" or 9" foam, and put it down beside the bed or furniture so when you jump off the bed and land on the foam, most of the impact from the landing will be absorbed by the foam. You can make covers for the foam to make it look better. This is my "sofa"-bed, but you almost never see it in it's sofa position because I like to stretch out on it during the day...hehe! The navy blue thingy is a piece of 7" foam for me to land on when I jump off the sofa bed.
- you can also have your parents build or buy steps off the bed just to make is more accessible for you!!
Closing note: Even though arthritis is a pain in the a$$, but with patience and dedication, it is definitely manageable. Good luck everyone! Ohhhh, and try not to subject your diseased joints to major impacts such as fence bashing or flying off stairs!!!