Natural dog joint pain relief, such as herbs, essential oils, acupuncture, etc., can play a significant role in improving the quality of life of an old dog suffering from arthritis.
This is Part 3 of my “Ultimate Dog Parents’ Guide to Arthritis in Old Dogs”.
In this post, I will introduce the following natural joint pain relief for dogs with arthritis:
Herbs as Natural Dog Joint Pain Relief
Quite a few herbs have the ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Here are some that are safe for dogs:
Yucca (Yucca glauca)
This herb contains phytochemicals called saponins that are known to reduce pain and stiffness.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Many of us are familiar with this powerful herb. It has been the subject of many studies for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative functions. One study showed that turmeric could reduce arthritis symptoms (joint pain and swelling) better than diclofenac, an NSAID.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
This herb has traditionally been used to treat arthritis and it’s really effective! Alfalfa is also a nutritive herb – the nutrition found in Alfalfa helps support joint health.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
Known commonly as Indian Frankincense, boswellia is a resin that contains boswellic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It improves circulation and increases viscosity of the joint fluid.
Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Devil’s claw has long been used as an herb for the joints, as it contains high levels of a component that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
This is an excellent herb for arthritis. It is commonly used to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, joint pain and stiffness.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
If you like cooking with ginger, you will know its warming taste! Ginger is stimulating, warming and anti-inflammatory. It promotes circulation and is good for the arthritic joints.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa)
CBD hemp has widely been studied on its ability to treat arthritis and joint pain. The good thing is, hemp doesn’t make a dog “high” and is safe to use. If you want more information on this plant, please read my article here.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
This herb contains high amounts of silica, which is a trace mineral important for bone formation and tissue health. Horsetail is also rich in bioflavonoids, which can protect cells and connective tissue.
Herbal Products for Dogs with Arthritis
It may not be easy to “test out” all these herbs to see which works for your dog! I would recommend getting some herbal formulas that are designed for dog arthritis.
Here are a few that work well:
Aromatherapy as Natural Dog Joint Pain Relief
Using essential oils that have pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties is another natural option to reduce dog joint pain.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent substances. Therefore, it is not recommended to be taken orally, unless under the supervision of a holistic vet with proper training in animal aromatherapy.
When using essential oils, follow all the usual precautions, such as:
- Only use 100% pure essential oils
- Always dilute essential oils with carrier oils, such as jojoba oil, aloe vera, almond oil, etc.
- Do not apply the oils near the face, on mucous membranes, or near the genitals.
Effective Essential Oils for Dog Joint Pain
There are a lot of essential oils that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. But not all of them are safe to use on dogs.
Some essential oils that can be used safely on dogs with arthritis include:
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
- Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
- Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)
How to Use Essential Oils for Dog Joint Pain
Here are a couple of ways to use EOs for dog joint pain and arthritis:
You can dilute any or a combination of the above oils in a carrier.
For added pain killing effect, I like to use Trauma Oil (a combination of the herbal oils of Arnica, St. John’s wort, and Calendula).
Start with a low dilution rate (e.g. 1% – 5-6 drops/1 oz of carrier). Use a few drops of the diluted blend to gently massage into the sore joint.
For added effect, put a hot compress on the joint after the massage.
A hot compress can simply be a wet towel heated up in your microwave (be sure it is not burning hot). The heat from the compress dilates skin pores and increases blood circulation, and helps the oils get into the blood stream.
Essential oil massage followed by a hot compress can help reduce stiffness and ease pain.
Diffusing any or a combination of the above oils (except Vetiver – it is a very thick oil and can clog up your diffuser) in the room where your dog rests can help as well.
Do not diffuse for hours on end though – 20-30 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day should be enough.
What NOT to Do
Do not apply undiluted oils to a dog, especially an old dog. (I know I may have repeated that several times, but it is so very important!)
And NEVER let anyone talk you into giving “Raindrop Therapy” to your dog.
Raindrop Therapy is “dropping” a lot of undiluted essential oils (sometimes highly stimulating and skin irritating oils) on the spine. This can cause at least two major issues:
- The undiluted oils can cause skin irritation to the dog.
- Once the oils get into the blood stream through the skin, they have to be metabolized by the liver. With a large quantity of oils to metabolize, the liver is put under a lot of stress. In the long term, your dog may develop liver toxicity and damage.
As mentioned before, essential oils are very potent even in diluted form, and a low percentage (1%) diluted in a carrier can usually do the job. There is absolutely no need to use large quantities of undiluted oils on dogs (and, for that matter, on people).
Homeopathy as Dog Joint Pain Relief
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like”. It uses a very small amount of a substance that can cause certain symptoms in a healthy body to help cure similar symptoms in an unhealthy one.
Homeopathic remedies are derived from a variety of plants, animal materials and minerals. These remedies are given in much smaller and less toxic doses than traditional medications, and are used for both prevention and treatment.
Dogs respond differently to homeopathic remedies – some show good results within a very short time, others don’t seem to benefit from them too much.
I have included a homeopathic remedy for arthritis and joint pain here for you to consider and maybe try. The good thing is, it is safe and the worst that could happen is, your dog’s condition doesn’t change!
Acupuncture for Dogs with Joint Pain and Arthritis
Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles to specific points on the body in an attempt to treat different diseases and symptoms. This non-medical way of treatment has been studied most often in the treatment of pain.
If you would like to give acupuncture a try, be sure to consult with a holistic vet, who may help you find a licensed vet certified in acupuncture.
Want more information? Visit this page.
Dietary Control for Dogs with Arthritis
You may wonder, “Can foods affect how my arthritic dog feels?”
There are foods that cause inflammation, and there are foods that are “anti-inflammatory”. For dogs with arthritis, obviously we don’t want to add fuel (inflammatory foods) to the fire (inflamed joints), right?
A lot of food items can cause inflammation, the most common ones found in dog food include:
- Grains, gluten, and starchy carbohydrates
- Processed foods
- Some vegetables from the nightshade family, e.g. tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine)
- Chemicals such as artificial flavorings and additives
As you can see, the above list of inflammatory foods basically rules out kibbles, especially the low-quality brands, which commonly contain grains, artificial flavorings and additives, and are highly processed.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Dogs with Arthritis
Some dog-friendly anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, tuna)
- Fish oil (e.g. salmon oil)
- Seeds (e.g. chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
- Some vegetables (e.g. celery, leafy greens such as kale, spinach)
- Dark, colorful fruits (e.g. blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
- Beans (e.g. lentils)
- Spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon)
Dog Food Good for Arthritic Dogs
So… what kind of food is suitable for dogs with arthritis?
If you can feed a well-balanced, grain-free, raw diet with bones (and cartilage) to your oldie, that would be very beneficial.
An example would be:
35-40%% raw meaty bones
30-35% muscle meat including eggs
5% organ meat (liver, kidney, heart)
25% vegetables and fruit
You can add anti-inflammatory spices (such as turmeric and ginger) to the meat, as well as fish oil (such as salmon oil) for additional anti-inflammatory properties.
I know, not everyone wants to give raw bones and meat to their dogs. Sometimes circumstances just don’t allow dog parents to do so.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t. I think we are all doing our best.
If you want to feed a commercial diet, get a high quality grain-free diet, such as:
Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dinners Freeze-Dried Dog Food.
This food contains freeze dried raw meat (never cooked), and dehydrated fruits and vegetables good for arthritic dogs. To feed, you just have to add water and soak the food for 10 minutes! You can of course use bone broth instead of water to add more collagen to the diet.
Natural dog joint pain relief is safer and milder for the dog, and is particularly beneficial to weaker oldies.
Remember, however, usually natural remedies such as herbs work slower than conventional medication. Give at least 4 weeks to see if there is any improvement in your dog’s mobility.
Also, as I have mentioned above, dogs respond differently to remedies. So, if one remedy doesn’t work, don’t give up. Try another one. It takes time to find and collect an arsenal of remedies that work for YOUR dog.