Bone and joint health definition:

The musculoskeletal system includes the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When these are strong and working in harmony, pets may move free and easy, without pain. Unfortunately, many pets suffer from pain or mobility issues due to a variety of injuries, developmental abnormalities, and nutritional or other health imbalances.

How it affects pets:

Arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia, and osteochondrosis result in lameness, stiffness, and/or pain for our pets. Some pets may show symptoms after exercise, upon rising, when climbing stairs, getting into/out of vehicles, or other activities. Their appetite may be lower due to discomfort, sleep habits and temperament maybe affected as well. Their joints may swell and/or be hot to the touch. Their normal gait will likely be changed as they have a decreased range of motion. Over time, they may show signs of muscle atrophy. Overall, joint and mobility issues such as these greatly affect your pet’s quality of life.


Age, in itself, is not a cause for arthritis or other problems with the joints. Obesity causes strain on a pet’s joints, increasing the wear and tear over the years and also increases the chance of injury. CJ Puotinen refers to arthritis as a “cooked-food disease”. Hip and elbow dysplasia, and other malformations of joints, are often thought to be linked to heredity and are increasingly common. Dr. Richard Pitcairn DVM reminds us that proper nutrition during pregnancy is critical in the formation of a pup’s structural tissue. “Inadaquate nutrition is most detrimental at this time.”

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

The first and best defense against arthritic joints for most otherwise healthy dogs, is a wholesome fresh food diet, and proper, consistent, appropriate exercise. Most holistic vets and nutritionists will agree that it is best to avoid low-quality commercial foods and instead choose a well-balanced diet of natural and wholesome whole foods. Grains can increase inflammation for some dogs so choosing a high-quality grain-free diet is often beneficial.

Other modalities to consider:

  • Exercise is an essential part of a holistic approach to joint health!
  • Alfalfa is beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Dandelion is a valuable blood cleanser, anti-inflammatory, tonic and helpful to the liver.
  • Comfrey is great for topical applications on sore joints.
  • Cayenne & Eucalyptus are good for topical treatments bone and joint problems. They promote circulation.
  • Arnica, Rhus Tox, Rhuta Grav, and Calendula are all effective homeopathic remedies for the musculoskeletal system.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin are widely respected for their ability to relieve joint discomfort.
  • Animal Apawthecary’s Alfalfa/Yucca Blend is one of our favorites for arthritic joints.
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids have particularly anti-inflammatory properties and benefit arthritic joints and other bone issues.
  • Also consider MSM as well as Vitamin C and Cetyl Myristoleate.

To find holistic help with your pet's digestive problems, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.

For dogs with digestive problems, try these dog diets:

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