Arthritis in dogs is a common problem, and has several causes. The main ones are ageing, a developmental hip or elbow dysplasia, or trauma. The trauma can be a one-off event like a road traffic accident, or it may be a repeated low-grade trauma, for example a hip or elbow dysplasia that "throws the animal slightly off balance", leading to unequal loading of the joint .
Information on this page courtesy of veterinary surgeon Dr. David Urch.
During the early stages, the first changes involve loss of proteoglycans from the matrix of the joint cartilage. This reduces the joint elasticity and it's resistance to compression.
At the same time there is a loss of hyaluronic acid, which normally binds the proteoglycans together. Enzymes are also released from the cartilage cells, which break down the joint cartilage matrix and cause inflammation of the synovial membrane.
As a result of these changes, the joint cartilage cannot cushion and protect the hard bone ends on either side of the joint; therefore the bone ends experience increasing trauma from normal movements. The bone next to the joint starts to degenerate, and micro-fractures start to develop in the bone.
The body reacts to these changes by re-modelling the bone and laying down new bone. This results in increasing rigidity within the joint - leading to increased cartilage breakdown: It's a vicious circle! Also, the synovial fluid within the joint loses it's lubricating qualities.
What might you notice about your dog if it is developing arthritis?
If the condition is well-established, your dog will obviously have trouble walking and going up and down stairs.
What treatments are available?
It is impossible to cure arthritis in dogs, but it's progress can be limited. The aim is to repair the bone micro-fractures and the joint cartilage, and improve the lubricating qualities of the synovial fluid.
Traditional treatment usually includes corticosteroid injections into the joint. However repeated injections may damage the joint further!
What else is there?
Aloe vera - but in 2 forms.
First, you can add an aloe vera gel to your dog's diet. Second, you can massage an aloe vera skin product into the skin over the affected joint.
The best product to add to your dog's diet is the Forever Freedom gel. Aloe Vera gel contains naturally occurring glucosamine phosphate, chondroitin sulfate and methylsulphonylmethane (MSM), which are natural elements shown to maintain healthy joint function and flexibility.
The Forever Living products were originally designed for humans but vets have found them to be even better, and work quicker, when used on pets! They are very safe to be used on your dog.
The gel can be given direct by mouth or added to food or water. It can be given as a single dose or if preferred, the daily amount can be divided in 2 or more amounts and given at equally spaced intervals during the day.
The recommended doses for the Forever Freedom gel are below.
Dr. Urch has been able to produce consistent beneficial clinical improvements using these amounts.
Initial Maintenance Dose
Long Term Maintenance Dose
The first treatment dose is the volume required daily to help the condition. The second dose is the initial maintenance volume required and the long term dose is for maintenance or used as a tonic.
RRP: $29.17 USD - 1 liter
If your dog has mobility challenges you can read more HERE about how to overcome those challenges with mobility aids and other great tips!!
The best product to apply directly to the skin over the problem joints is Aloe Vera Heat Lotion. This is aloe vera in a heat producing formula which encourages blood supply to the area. It is particularly useful for its soothing action on joints, ligaments and muscles. In animals it is essential that it is applied directly to the skin and not onto the hair.
You may need to clip away the hair/fur over the affected area in order to be able to apply the Heat Lotion directly to the skin. You can apply it 4 to 6 times a day, massaging it gently over the entire affected area.
RRP: $12.66 USD
1. Dr. P.R. Kemble, Veterinary Surgeon. "When I was in veterinary practice I found frequent occasions when aloe vera was an appropriate treatment. In particular I found that aloe vera gelly used as a wound dressing produced rapid healing without infection and left less scarring than would have been expected.
I also found that dogs readily accepted aloe vera gel in their food, and this helped to improve the mobility of older animals. Skin problems in dogs and cats are commonly associated with disorders of the immune system, and I found aloe was frequently useful as an aid to controlling these problems."
2. Gay Jones. "I drink the Forever Freedom and wouldn't be without it, and I recently started giving it to my dog Dan as he is old and has joint problems.
In a very short space if time I have noticed a huge improvement in him, he can now climb the stairs with ease again and is generally much more lively."
To read about other great Aloe Vera products that can help your dog's quality of life click here.