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Nutritional Supplements For Pets With Inherited Or Degenerative Joint Disease

A variety of dietary nutrients are available that may reduce joint pain or even enhance joint health. There is good evidence that some essential fatty acids (EFAs) are "pro-inflammatory" while other EFAs are "anti-inflammatory". Translating this fact into a therapy should, at least in theory be possible. EFAs found in marine fish oil or linseed oil are high in "anti-inflammatory" EFAs, particularly EPA and DHA fatty acids. Adding these to your pet's diet may reduce some joint inflammation and alleviate pain. The question that remains is how much EPA and DHA is necessary for a clinical improvement. As yet, no one has produced an answer other than that the quantities may need to be considerable. We recommend feeding a fish-based diet or adding fish oil to meat-based diets.

There are many products marketed as joint cartilage protectors (chondroprotectants). The most widely used are glucosamine and chondroitin. Ashley McManus will advise you on ehich product is most suitable for your pet.

Complimentary Therapies May Be Useful

Some complimentary therapies certainly make some pets with DJD more comfortable. The exact reason why remains elusive but there are clues, old and new.

The old clues come from research carried out in the 1960s on pets by Dr. James J. Lynch, the author of The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness. In a scientific paper titled "The Effect of Petting on a Classically Conditioned Emotional Response", Lynch showed that petting a dog considerably reduced pain. (The unpleasant experiment itself would never be sanctioned today!)

Almost 40 years later, vets at Bruce’s college, the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, in Canada dispensed to 10 veterinary clinics in southwestern Ontario four different but identical-looking treatments for pets suffering from DJD. One treatment was a placebo, just rice flour. Others were rice flour and either a North American Native herbal formula for arthritic pain, traditional Chinese herbs for arthritic pain or aspirin. Neither the vets, their patients nor the owners knew what was in the gelatin capsules. When the vets and owners assessed responses, 40 percent reported improvements on placebo alone. (A similar number reported improvements on North American Native herbs while a greater number saw improvements in pets given traditional Chinese herbs. The greatest improvement was reported for pets given aspirin.).

We feel that for dogs, any form of touch, including the gentle touch of an acupuncturist inserting needles can be physiologically rewarding and reduce pain.

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