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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Joint Pain: How Holistic and Homeopathic Remedies Can Help Your Pet

With the arrival of the cold winter months, animal guardians across the country are seeing their pets affected by creaky and often painful joints, especially in middle-aged to senior animals. There are also increased incidences of traumatic and/or immune mediated/inflammatory joint issues during the cold winter months. This can include more flare-ups of ligament and tendon issues, such as Anterior Cruciate Ligament issues (known as ACL problems), and patella tendon flare-ups, both of which are weaknesses involving the stifle or knee joints of affected animals.

Fortunately, holistic and homeopathic veterinary practitioners have many natural options to offer animal guardians. These are not only quite effective in helping manage these chronic, debilitating conditions, but also have a much larger safety profile, compared to some of the stronger pain and anti-inflammatory medications, such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (which may lead to gastrointestinal, liver or kidney side effects), or stronger narcotic medications, which may lead to excessive sedation, as well as constipation, and/or liver side effects.

For the aging middle-aged to older animal companion with increasing levels of degenerative joint or spinal disease, I usually recommend a multi-modality approach to naturally addressing these issues. For many decades holistic, and even now conventional veterinarians, are using natural fatty acid and other oil supplements, which help decrease joint and spinal cord inflammation with regular use. Omega 3 fatty acids such as Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet, as well as other fatty acids such as Cetyl myristeolate, also lubricate and soothe inflamed joints. We will also combine these fatty acid supplements with glucosamine/MSM supplements, of which there are many effective options now available.

My favorite product line, relative to these options, include the Glyco-Flex Soft Chews chewable line from Vetri Science, which are conveniently labeled to arthritis severity from Stage 1 to Stage 3. I also like that all of the Glycoflex products come with the whole food Perna Canaliculus, which is the Green lipped sea mussel, and which has been shown quite effective for relieving many types of arthritis in many human clinical studies over the years.

Other options in this arena include the Cosequin and Dasuquin line of products, as well as the economic alternative from 1-800-PetMeds known as Super Joint Enhancer Bite-Sized Chews. I will often combine a fatty acid, and glucosamine/MSM product with the natural anti-inflammatory known as Yucca Intensive Holistic Animal Care as well, which is an excellent alternative to prescription anti-inflammatory medications. This trio of nutritional supplements and products often provides dramatic improvement to painful and achy animals during the icy months of winter.

Finally, and my biggest passion to help these painful animals, is to incorporate homeopathic remedy treatments as part of the winter arthritis regimen. Probably the two most effective homeopathic remedies in this group are the remedies Boiron Rhus Toxicodendron 30C in 30C POTENCY, and Boiron Ruta Graveolens 30C in 30C POTENCY. Rhus Tox is excellent for that painful animal who is worse in cold, damp weather, and who is worse in the mornings on waking. The typical animal that benefits from Rhus Tox is one that initially gets up very stiff and painful, and improves with motion and/or warmth. The Rhux Tox state is probably the most common arthritic state we see in middle-aged to senior animals and the results can be dramatic when this remedy is used when these symptom states are present.

Rhus Tox and Ruta Graveolens are probably the two most effective homeopathic remedies for helping those dogs with torn ACLs or luxating patellas of the stifle or knee joints of companion animals. For those pets diagnosed with these conditions, I will often prescribe Rhus Tox 30C in the morning given once daily with Ruta Graveolens given that same evening. Duration of treatment I recommend is usually at most 2 to 3 weeks. If there is no improvement seen by that time, then the remedy or remedies should be stopped, and that the animal be re-evaluated. Ruta has a great predilection for helping with injuries or inflammations of tendons and ligaments, while Rhus Tox can help not only these areas, but also most importantly, the joint health as well.

If an animal suffers a sudden fall or trauma on slippery icy roads, or slippery kitchen floors, the homeopathic remedy Arnica in 30C POTENCY given several times over a few days, or even the combination remedy T-Relief Tablets, which has arnica as well as other acute injury remedies in one formula, may often be helpful in these acute injuries.