Joint disease, specifically arthritis, is a common problem in dogs and cats, especially as they age. The causes are many and include obesity, inflammation, immune dysfunction and normal wear and tear in joints. Conventional therapies include steroids, non-steroidal medications, analgesic medications to control pain and surgery, when applicable.
Clinical signs of arthritis include joint stiffness, pain, difficulty getting up and down, a pet’s decreased desire to walk or exercise and increased aggression due to pain. Keep in mind that other causes may be misdiagnosed as “arthritis”, but are related to another disease.
Many natural therapies for joint disease include acupuncture, chiropractic, cold laser treatment, physical therapy, Chinese and Western herbal therapies, nutrition and diet, homotoxicology and homeopathy. Several key homeopathic remedies recommended for human relief in osteoarthritic knee, hip and finger joints by Dr. Vikas Sharma, of Chandigarh, India, may also be helpful for pets with joint injury and pain, according to The Arthritis Solution for Dogs & Cats (PetCareNaturally.com). Consult a holistic veterinarian for individual treatment options.
This is a mainstay of homeopathy, as noted in the New World Veterinary Repertory, and applies to anything related to bones and joints. It is useful for chronic arthritis, especially if the painful parts of the body seem to worsen when moved or touched.
It’s especially helpful for pets showing signs of stiffness and inflammation with pain made worse as the pet moves, especially when rising and lying down. Offset cold dry weather with warmth and humidification. Discomfort is aggravated when the affected body part is touched, bumped or moved about, which may spur aggressive behavior, so show tender care and respect. Relief typically comes when the pet rests the affected part.
This remedy may ease deeply aching arthritis, particularly if bony or fibrous tissue has formed around joints. Avoid cold and dampness. Signs alerting a veterinarian to the problem may include muscle weakness, fatigue from exertion and a feeling of chilliness or sluggishness (these pets may also be hypothyroid).
Pets with advanced arthritis showing joints that are thickened or deformed may benefit from kali. Stiffness and pain are typically worse in the morning from cold, damp weather, so that’s an ideal time for applying prescribed treatment.
This is useful for many arthritic pets and especially those with rheumatoid arthritis, which is rare. The remedy is also beneficial for pets that start the day stiff and in pain, but improve with continued movement. Protect them from cold, wet weather conditions.
Another widely recognized arthritis remedy, ruta grav is for pets whose symptoms may be exacerbated by cold and damp and exertion. It may be prescribed for affected and damaged tendons and capsules of the joints, when arthritis may have developed from overuse, repeated wear and tear and associated chronic inflammation.
The practice of functional medicine teaches combinations of complementary therapies suited to the individual pet’s needs. Homeopathics can be a beneficial element in treating animals suffering from a variety of joint disorders.
Shawn Messonnier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practicing in Plano, TX, is the author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets.