The Seasons Are Changing…So If Your Pet Is Approaching Their Senior Years Or Has Arthritis Now Would Be A Good Time To Start Working On Your Pet To Prevent Cold Weather Flare Ups

 cute old golden

Arthritis will strike approximately 65% of dogs over the age of 10. And it’s not just a canine disease: Up to 30% of cats will suffer the pain of arthritis sometime in their life. Arthritis can strike any joint in the body, but the most common places we see it is in the spine, hips, elbows, and knees. In dogs especially, arthritis of the lower spine – called spondylosis – is extremely common, and probably the most common cause of rear limb weakness in older dogs.

Signs of spondylosis include difficulty getting up from a lying position, especially on slick surfaces, muscle wasting in the hips and thighs, dragging the rear feet when walking or trotting, and pain in the lower spine when manipulated.

The seasons are changing and Fall is here.. If your pet has arthritis, now is a good time to start working with him or her before the cold weather and winter sets in, as that can be a big trigger for arthritis flare ups.

If you have an older dog or cats odds are they will develop a bit of osteoarthritis. There are ways to minimize and hopefully prevent this. A species appropriate diet is very helpful. Exercise in moderation is also a great way to keep their joints happy and healthy. In addition weight control keeps a lot of stress off their joints.  Hydrotherapy and Acupuncture or Acupressure can be used prophylactically to help prevent or delay the onset. If your dog has been diagnosed with OA the above still applies but you can add a few more modalities eastern and western to the list to maintain a good quality of life.  There is information below and a new study published human based but interesting on acupuncture worked even better if used for a duration of at least a month and did not have the side effects of analgesics

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is a common disease that causes joint stiffness and pain. Dogs suffering from osteoarthritis will experience intermittent lameness and difficulty with exercise. The most effective course of treatments for osteoarthritis is a combination therapy of analgesics, to reduce pain, and natural treatments that include:

  • Healthy diet and exercise
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Heat therapy
  • Comfortable environment
  • Chondroprotectants/
  • Acupuncture
  • Laser Therapy

Osteoarthritis gets progressively worse over time. Without treatment the dog can become severely debilitated. There is no cure for the condition. Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and slowing the degradation of joints.

Maintaining Healthy Weight with Diet and Exercise

Maintaining a healthy weight is the first step to alleviating joint pain. Extra weight means additional strain on the joints during movement. If a dog is overweight, a diet and exercise will be necessary to reduce stress on the joints.

Regular exercise can maintain joint flexibility and build or preserve muscle mass. Short walks of approximately 20 minutes should be done several times a day. The dog should be kept on a leash and restricted from activities such as jumping or standing on the hind legs. If a dog appears more uncomfortable and stiff after exercise, the regimen should be changed to an appropriate comfort level. The dog should not engage in activities that cause exertion or bouts of lameness. Physical therapy exercises, such as range of motion exercises, can also improve flexibility and strength.

Hydrotherapy for Dogs with Osteoarthritis

Some dogs may have difficulty even with short periods of exercise. Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, can provide beneficial exercise without putting stress on arthritic joints. The buoyancy of water prevents the weight of the dog from impacting the joints. The dog can then attain muscle strengthening and increased flexibility, without becoming sore or experiencing joint fatigue. Hydrotherapy can be done at canine rehabilitation centers or at home with:

  • Underwater treadmills
  • Physical therapy pools
  • Outdoors (lakes or ponds)
  • Sink or bathtub (for smaller breeds)

Heat Therapy for Osteoarthritis Relief

Moderate heat applied directly to the joints can increase circulation, enhance tissue healing and flexibility, and reduce stiffness. The heat should be low to moderate but not hot to the touch. Heat therapy can be easily done at home using:

  • Heat packs
  • Hot water bottles
  • Microwavable heat disks
  • Warm towels

A Safe and Comfortable Environment

Dampness and cold can aggravate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A warm and soft place to sleep can prevent the dog from experiencing joint stiffness after periods of inactivity. Keeping the dog warm outdoors, with protective clothing, can also provide relief. Slippery surfaces indoors put an arthritic dog at risk for injury. Place non-slip rugs or mats in areas the dog uses to prevent falls or sprains. Ramps can assist a dog with osteoarthritis with stairs or jumps.

Read more: Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis in Dogs

 Laser Therapy is another amazing option with good results.  Cold therapy laser is the newest FDA approved treatment modality to help combat the destructive inflammation of arthritis. Cold therapy laser uses infrared laser beams to stimulate what’s termed as Photobiomodulation, or light-initiated changes in the way that cells react. By applying high power infrared light to the cells in a joint, they are stimulated to actually heal themselves

Read more

Acupuncture reduces pain and improves functional mobility for patients with osteoarthritis. Researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada, conducted a meta-analysis of 12 trials consisting of 1,763 patients with osteoarthritis. All trials compared true acupuncture with sham acupuncture, conventional treatments and no treatments. The study finds acupuncture effective in reducing pain intensity levels, increasing mobility and improving quality of life scores. A subgroup analysis reveals that patients receiving acupuncture treatments for intervention periods greater than 4 weeks have greater reductions in pain intensity levels than patients receiving acupuncture over a shorter duration of time.

Here are the main points from the study and a few others that have been used successfully.

Be sure and find a licensed Veterinary Acupuncturist or a Certified Animal Acupressure Practitioner

Happy Pointing

 ST34 Lateral aspect of the thigh 2 cun above the outer border of the patella

Xiyan, ST35A  35B  two points on the lateral and medial side just distal to the patella

ST36 find the front of the knee and slide your finger down into the little groove on the lateral side of each knee

SP9 Medial aspect of the of the pelvic limb in the depression of the caudal border of the tibia and the gastrocnemius

GB34 Between the head of the tibia and head of the fibula on the lateral side of the back leg down from the kneecap. The point is found on the lateral aspect of the hind limb between the head of the tibia and fibula


KI3 BL60Top of the hock thin skin your fingers will slide into it on either side it is kind of like our Achilles this is actually two points KI3 and BL60

Bai Hui Dorsal midline in the lumbar sacral space

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