The Problem: Increasing lameness, stiffness and arthritic problems in our pets.
The Solution: Individualized treatment while supporting your pet’s body while it heals. By optimizing lifestyle and using nutritional supplements (if needed).
We all love our animal companions and we don’t want them to suffer. Fortunately there’s lots of ways to help them.
Lifestyle improvements are really important, but sometimes are not enough.
Optimizing the internal underlying imbalance is critical, but not always practical.
That’s where nutritional supplementation is most useful. There are many, many ways to internally support your pets and help them have better lives.
How Do Supplements Work?
Unlike homeopathy and acupuncture, supplementation works on the physical body. Not the vital force (or chi, prana, etc.).
Nutritional supplements are like natural drugs.
They help the genes work better. The proteins produced from the genes support life and health.
Supplements are (usually) supportive and not curative.
Dr. Hahnemann coined the phrase “allopathic” for the medical practice based on the use of dis-similar substances. Whether using a natural herb, an artificial drug, or a supplement.
Allo- (or different) vs. homeo- (the same) and pathic (from dis-ease or suffering).
The rare exception is when a supplement fits the totality of the symptoms of the individual so well that it works “homeopathically”.
Supportive and Curative Treatments at the Same Time?
Homeopathy arose as a method of optimizing internal balance. Not covering up symptoms (as supplements can do). However, even the founder of homeopathy (Dr. Hahnemann) describes many ways to support the body during treatment of the underlying dis-ease (imbalance).
Herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes, were routinely used in the “olden” days. Naturopathic methods were integrated into conventional medical treatments.
That changed with the advent of the AMA and modern “scientific” medicine.
However, that has shifted again. By the 1970s, natural and holistic nutritional supplements were coming back! Nowadays, almost every veterinary practice has multiple supplements on their pharmacy shelves.There are new ones coming on the scene almost every day. Just like drugs.
Crippling Arthritis Be Gone!
One of my first experiences with nutritional supplements took place almost thirty years ago. A client of mine with a stiff older dog named Sasha asked me about omega-3 supplementation. Because it had been recommended by her own amazing informed and open-minded rheumatologist.
The pup’s guardian had started taking them. Within a few weeks, her gnarled, painful fingers and other joints improved! More than with any anti-inflammatory that she had taken. And without the side-effects of the medications.
This intrigued me so I started doing some research on the use of omega-3s for arthritis. Unlike there is now, at that time there was not much data on their effectiveness in animals (or people). Despite this, the woman requested that we try some for her crippled German Shepherd.
The next time I saw Sasha, she was like a new dog! Happier, more energetic and clearly feeling better. Her mobility was markedly improved and my practice was changed forever.
Specific Supplements I Use for Arthritis
I’d therefore like to share a few thoughts about the 10 most commonly prescribed nutritional supplements in my clinical practice for lame and arthritic dogs and cats:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids: Many, many beneficial efects both in arthritic dis-ease as well as heart, skin, brain, etc. challenges. The best sources are usually from anchovies and sardines. It’s best to stay away from salmon oil (which is highly contaminated with heavy metals). The triglyceride form is most natural, best absorbed and utilized.
2. Superoxide dismutase: Has a very short life in the body. It is often used in combination with other antioxidants. These reduce the harmful “free radicals” that worsen many dis-eases and promote aging and cancer. Nu-Pet antioxidant wafers are among my favorite sources.
3. Hyaluronic acid: A chief component of joint fluid and lubricant to many connective tissues. Previously only absorbed and used as injections such as Adequan. But now with Trixsyn and other oral well-absorbed HA supplements it is invaluable for the stiff pet.
4. Glucosamine sulfate: Another component of the joints and musculoskeletal tissues and one of the first supplements thought of in lame animals and arthritis. Other forms that don’t contain sulfer, don’t work as well. They need to be combined with chondroitin sulfate.
5. DimethylGlycine (DMG): A methyl donor which improves many metabolic functions. Often used in combination with other supplements. For arthritis I advise the chewable Glycoflex 1 + DMG.
6. Coenzyme Q-10: A critical part of any arthritis support program. Helps mitochondrial function, energy production and arthritis symptoms. But it is not very well absorbed. Ideally use a non-powdered and non-crystalline form. Xymogen’s Co-Q Max is my favorite one to date (but is also only available through your doctor).
7. Resveratrol and grape seed extract: Not whole grapes. Those can be toxic. But extracts are awesome antioxidants. They have many, many benefits. Resveratrol has even been shown to prolong life (in people).
8. Boswellia: An herb used for thousands of years that naturally works on same part of the inflammatory pathway as aspirin. It can quickly and effectively decrease arthritic pain when used judiciously.
9. Curcumin + black pepper: Turmeric root has also been used for millennia as a natural anti-inflammatory. It works wonderfully for arthritis. Its’ effect is increased by combining it with black pepper. As found in the popular “Golden Paste” mix.
10. Bromelain usually along with other enzymes: Also natural anti-inflammatories. Great for helping many uncomfortable dis-orders. Wobenzyme makes the most popular human enzyme of this type. But also talk to your veterinarian about Vetriscience’s Devcor + Mobility Pro. An awesome combination of enzymes and herbs that has helped many pets.
MSM is the one nutritional supplement that I rarely advise. Why? Because it’s very effective at covering up the symptom clues that help monitor and treat the internal dis-ease. Especially at higher doses like 100-500mg.
Does it work? Yes. But unlike with many other supplements it has a better chance of manipulating and harmfully altering the underlying problem.
Any supplement can have the same effect. MSM especially can mask the symptom clues. This defeats the purpose of restoring wellness.
Natural Nutrition is Best
If you’ve read this far, you probably really care about helping your pet. I therefore want to impress upon you the far superiority of optimizing your pet’s body naturally. Not with artificial supplements. You can harness the power of nature with nutritional items like the blueberry-kale slurry, bone broth and eggshell membranes.
What’s most important? The treatment goal of eliminating imbalance by monitoring the symptom changes of your pet’s body.