November 27, 2009

Did you know that herbs can lend a real helping hand to many painful problems that plague older pets, as well as injuries in younger pups and kitties, too? These remedies are also great for people. Please always check with a qualified practitioner when utilizing natural remedies.

Internal Remedies

Alfalfa, which is found in several of our dog food diets, including Force and Preference, is really beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism.

Homeopathic remedies can also lend a helping hand to bones and joint soreness, bumps and bruises. Arnica is an a versatile, all-time favorite which is especially useful for bruising and Rhus Tox is indicated when the problem improves with movement. Rhuta Grav is a remedy well suited to tendon and ligament sprains and joint stresses. Calendula offers soothing support to internal, arthritic conditions as well as topical problems such as scrapes and grazes.

External Remedies

Comfrey, also known as ‘Knitbone’ is a wonderful herb to consider for topical application to sore joints. We don’t recommend comfrey for internal use, except under the qualified supervision of a holistic medical professional.

Herbs that promote circulation, such as Cayenne & Eucalyptus, are also recommended by some herbalists, for topical treatment of bone and joint problems. Tiger Balm is a popular, warming salve that can be applied directly over sore joints (avoid use on open wounds) but should be avoided when homeopathic remedies are also being used, as it can inhibit their effectiveness.

Joint Health Explored

Joint health is an important concern for many pets owners, especially those with large breeds and aging animals. Exercise is a necessary part of a holistic approach to joint health, and nutritional supplementation is a second facet that can bring welcome relief for pain and inflammation, as well as prevention of bone and joint problems, in many cases.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are widely respected for their ability to relieve joint discomfort. We are often asked why we don’t include these substances in our foods. The first reason is that we believe supplementation should be reserved for those pets who really need it, rather than providing it through the diet, indiscriminately.

Secondly, the amount of Glucosamine and Chondroitin that is permitted in pet foods does not generally equate to a therapeutic dose in a single serving of food. More often than not, these ingredients are included as more of a gimmick on the label, rather than being valuable to the pet.

If you think your pet could benefit from supplementation with Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplementation, discuss it with your holistic vet and ask for a recommendation on dosage.

There are a number of other natural supplements on the market to help maintain healthy joints. Animal Essentials has a couple different supplements that are designed to do just that. The company also offers Animal Apawthecary’s product line, which is owned and formulated by Greg Tilford and Mary Wulf- Tilford. The Tilford’s are recognized experts of veterinary herbal medicine. Animal Apawthecary’s herbal formula, Alfalfa/Yucca Blend is one of our favorites for arthritic joints. To view this product line, visitwww.animalessentials.com.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are another important component in joint health. Omega 3 EFA’s have particularly anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that the beneficial effects of Omega 3 fatty acids on arthritic and other bone and joint problems, are based on two primary factors:

First, the ability of essential fatty acids to regulate the immune system, which suppresses the attack by our own immune cells on bones, cartilage, and tissues of the body.

Second, the ability of essential fatty acids to decrease the inflammatory response through the production of hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins.

The Honest Kitchen’s pet food diets contain a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of flax. Another good source is fish oil, although this must be stored very carefully to prevent rancidity. Animal Essentials has an EFA supplement line as well.

Other supplements to consider are MSM, as well as Vitamin C and Cetyl Myristoleate. These have natural ant-inflammatory properties and help to maintain the integrity of a joint’s internal structure.
Herbs that help to support normal joint mobility, flexion and movement include Alfalfa (a natural anti-inflammatory), White Willow Bark (analgesic and anti-inflammatory), Yucca (anti-inflammatory), Ginger (for circulation), Red Clover (anti-spasmodic) and Boswellia (anti-arthritic), Cleavers and Licorice.

The first line of defense against arthritic joints for most otherwise healthy dogs, is a wholesome fresh food diet, and proper, consistent, age-appropriate exercise.