My old dog Chili is a walking disaster …
She wobbles around on four very unsound legs … the result of jumping off mountains and tearing her cruciate ligaments a few times in her salad days.
Now that Chili is 13, she’s paying the price of her youthful indiscretions!
It’s a challenge keeping her active and comfortable, but I’ve managed to do it without harmful NSAIDs … and it worked so well that Chili is now a happy, healthy 13 (and counting) and there was a time when I thought she’ld never make it to 10 because her joints were so bad!
Everyone who knows Chili asks me how I’m able to keep her so active, even with severe arthritis … and since this is also one of the most frequent questions DNM readers ask me, I thought I’d share my critical 3 steps for dealing with degenerative joint issues naturally.
Inflammation: The Real Cause Of Dog Arthritis
We once thought arthritis was the result of wear and tear – but more recent research shows this isn’t the case. Researchers from Stanford University say arthritis may be the result of chronic, low-grade inflammation. In a nutshell, the immune system releases proteins that damage joints – and these proteins also bind to cartilage-producing cells in the joints, causing them to secrete even more of the damaging proteins. This creates a cascade of chronic, low-grade inflammation in the joint … especially if there’s already arthritis.
Low-grade inflammation has been linked not just to arthritis, but virtually every health condition. It’s the one, true cause of most disease. Dr Brent Bauer, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, says “inflammation appears to play a role in many chronic diseases”
Now you might be thinking “Great, I’ll give my dog anti-inflammatory drugs and the arthritis will go away.” But those drugs won’t address the cause of your dog’s inflammation. And, ironically, new research shows NSAIDs (or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause even more damage to your dog’s joints and soft tissue.
Not all inflammation in the body is a bad thing. If your dog is exposed to viruses or bacteria – or if he hurts himself – then acute inflammation will bring white blood cells to the joint and start the healing process. But chronic inflammation – the kind of inflammation that stays for weeks, months and even years – is the real culprit behind most degenerative and inflammatory health issues in your dog.
Researchers are finding that heart disease can be linked to dental disease. Chronic bladder infections can lead to bladder cancer. And they’re finding that chronic low-grade inflammation is a major driver of joint degeneration.
So let’s take a look at the best ways to fight against the inflammation that can cause and worsen your dog’s arthritis, in the order of importance. The more steps you do, the more your dog will benefit (and not just his joints) …
Step 1 – Fix Leaky Gut
For years, I believed a poor diet would cause joint disease, but I wasn’t really sure how. But now I know …
Your dog’s gut lining contains millions of tiny little holes that allow digested foods and proteins to enter the body to be used as fuel. The tiny holes prevent larger, undigested proteins and toxins from entering the body and wreaking havoc with the immune system.
But these tiny holes can stretch if the gut is damaged – and when this happens, proteins, harmful bacteria and undigested food particles will start to enter the body, causing an immune reaction.
The immune system responds to any foreign invader with inflammation … but because the dog’s gut is damaged, foreign invaders continue to enter the body with every single meal, causing low-grade chronic inflammation that can lead to arthritis (and literally hundreds of other health conditions).
Most foods today are high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids and this causes the chronic inflammation that can cause or worsen arthritis.
What are the main causes of leaky gut in dogs?
Processed, grain-based foods containing wheat, rice, spelt and soy, food additives and preservatives; the lectin found in unsprouted grains; sugar; genetically modified foods (GMOs); pasteurized dairy; and meat from stressed, factory-farmed animals.
Drugs And Other Toxins
Unnecessary steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), deworming drugs, flea and tick treatments (many contain pesticides) and antibiotics (leading to an imbalance of healthy gut flora, also known as dysbiosis).
Vaccines contain foreign animal protein as well as heavy metals like aluminum, which are meant to exaggerate the immune response. This combination wreaks havoc on the immune system and causes chronic inflammation in the gut and the body. Limiting vaccines is an important step in limiting inflammation.
So step 1 is to eliminate processed foods, drugs, toxins and vaccines as much as possible. And if your dog has been exposed to any of the above, step 2 is to treat him for leaky gut.
Step 2 – Fix The Fats
Fats are one of the most important ingredients in your dog’s diet … they affect every cell in his body … if he doesn’t get enough fat or gets the wrong balance of fats, things can go very wrong.
Many of the fats your dog eats are either omega-6 fats or omega-3 fats. Both are important and both help control your dog’s hormones and immune system. The omega-6 fats trigger inflammation and the omega-3 fats reduce it. These fats work in perfect balance … unless we mess around with the foods we eat.
Because antioxidants clear the “rust” out of your dog’s body, they’re the perfect choice for fighting arthritis.
Today’s foods are different than the foods your dog’s ancestors ate. Most foods today are high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids and this causes the chronic inflammation that can cause or worsen arthritis. Grains are high in omega-6 fats, as are factory-farmed animals (they’re also fed grains so feeding factory-farmed animals to your dog is pretty much the same as feeding him grains … you are what you eat).
To reduce inflammation, your dog needs to be eating grass-fed animals, not factory-farmed and grain-fed animals. And if that’s not possible, you need to add omega-3 fats to balance the fats in his diet. You can do this by adding fish or phytoplankton (but not fish oil – most fish oils turn rancid and can increase the inflammation in your dog).
Step 3 – Add Antioxidants
Free radicals are tiny but dangerous substances that build up from metabolism, inflammation and environmental factors like pollution. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause them to die. Free radicals build up in the body like rust and they’re the cause of degenerative disease and premature aging.
Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent the cell damage free radicals cause. Antioxidants have anti-aging effects and they help prevent cancer, heart disease, eye problems, and immune issues.
Because antioxidants clear the “rust” out of your dog’s body, they’re the perfect choice for fighting arthritis. Here are some foods that are loaded with high quality antioxidants:
- Phytoplankton (contains SOD, the cancer-fighting king of all antioxidants)
- Astaxanthin (another super-powerful antioxidant)
- Turmeric (we’ll show you how to make super-potent turmeric paste here)
- Wild blueberries, goji berries and cranberries (they’re high in vitamin E, lutein, vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids and lycopene)
- Herbs (oregano, basil, cinnamon, parsley, cumin and ginger are all high in antioxidants)
These 3 simple steps will get to the root cause of your dog’s arthritis and I think you and your dog will love the results. Remember my old Chili? I treated her for leaky gut when she was 10 and her joints and her movement were so much better after I did (and as a bonus, her allergies were too).
Why waste your money on NSAIDS and even natural joint supplements that may or may not work? Try this simple 3 step process and you’ll set your dog up to succeed – not only can you reduce his joint pain, but you’ll also reduce his risk of cancer, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
nate processed foods, drugs, toxins and vaccines as much as possible. And if your dog has been exposed to any of the above, step 2 is to treat him for leaky gut.
–Dana Scott of Dogs Naturally Magazine