As we are well underway in winter, the colder temperatures can affect our animals as much as they can affect us. Skin can become dry, itchy and flaky. Arthritic animals experience stiffness and sore joints, finding it harder to get up in the mornings. Cats and small animals may become more prone to colds, and of course, they all want to stay cosy and warm too.
Arthritis and Joint Support
An effective anti-inflammatory and great all-rounder in the treatment of arthritis is the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus, a New Zealand mussel). The green-lipped mussel (GLM) contains high concentrations of glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids, naturally chelated minerals, omega-3 and unsaturated fatty acids. Studies by Japanese veterinarians investigating the effects of GLM on dogs with joint problems showed that the mussel was very effective in 80 percent of cases. There were no adverse side effects.
Combinations of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, the anti-inflammatory bromelain, and fish and plant omega supplements can also be very supportive.
Vitamins C and E, and minerals zinc and magnesium are all known to be beneficial for arthritis.
Ginger and turmeric are easily accessible herbs that help to reduce inflammation. Herbal products containing Boswellia and Devil’s claw may also be beneficial for dogs.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis is referred to as bi syndrome – obstructions in circulation leading to pain and related to wind, cold and dampness. Treatment includes stimulating circulation, dispelling pain from muscles and warming the bones. This can be achieved through modalities including acupuncture or acupressure, Reiki, massage, hydrotherapy and other gentle forms of exercise, nutritional supplements, diet and/or herbs.
Homeopathy has many beneficial remedies for symptoms of arthritis and other joint conditions. Below are some remedies to consider.
- Apis addresses joint swelling, redness, and tenderness; cold compresses bring relief and heat worsens the symptoms.
- Arnica is helpful for obvious signs of discomfort and pain. It is great for arthritis that has been bought on from an injury. The animal wants to be left alone.
- Belladonna may be useful for hot and swollen joints, especially when there are sudden flare-ups. The right side is often worse than the left side, and the animal feels better for moving around and worse from resting.
- Bryonia is also indicated for swollen and hot joints but symptoms are made worse from exercise or exertion. The animal doesn’t like the affected areas to be touched.
- Calc carb is for overweight animals with joint inflammation and weaknesses.
- Causticum is good for older animals. It helps arthritis, bone and joint deformities, tendon problems and muscle weakness. Cold and damp weather worsens symptoms, while the application of a warm compress helps to improve discomfort.
- Dulcamara helps with arthritis in overweight dogs that also suffer from back pain, and experience worse symptoms in winter.
- Rhus tox assists arthritis, joint pain, and musculoskeletal aches and pains in general, stiffness on rising but improves with exercise and warmth. Symptoms are worse in cold damp weather
- Ruta grav may be beneficial for cases of arthritis associated with lameness and stiffness, where cold and damp weather makes the symptoms worse.
Essential fatty acids are important all year round but especially in the dry winter months. They are also very important for animals that eat heavily based dry food diets.
Add plant oils such as organic sunflower oil or flaxseed oil: 1 teaspoon daily for cats and small dogs, 2 teaspoons daily for medium-sized dogs, and up to 1 tablespoon daily for large dogs
Fish oils are excellent and often the first choice when supplementing omega-3 fatty acids. Ensure that fish oils are a therapeutic brand and kept refrigerated. For therapeutic dosing please seek advice from your local Vet or fully qualified Animal Homeopath for recommendations of oil per kg body weight.
Brushing and massaging your pet promotes circulation, and stimulates natural oils in their skin.
For pets with dry skin use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Select all-natural, chemical-free products, and consider chamomile based blends to help soothe the skin. Neem is an excellent all-around skin product.
Ensure that your pets are warm and comfortable with access to blankets and beds to help them stay comfortable and happy during the cold months.
The recommendations in this article are a guide only and are not a substitute for responsible veterinary care. In the case of any serious emergency, injury or symptom seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Homeopathy offers support for both humans and animals by restoring one’s body into balance. It’s important to seek professional advice from a qualified registered homeopath or local Vet for advice or to book an appointment for your pets health issues.
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National Animal Care Articles Library
Paws and Claws Magazine, 2011
Written by Eileen McLean