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Natural options for addressing your pet’s joint discomfort

Dog limps with joint discomfort

It’s hard to see your dog sore and limping, or slowing down due to age, but joint discomfort is very common in dogs. In fact, just about all dogs over the age of seven experience some form of discomfort due to aging. Unfortunately, products commonly used to address discomfort in pets often come with negative side effects and cannot be used long-term. 

Pet parents are looking to natural therapies as a way to provide relief for discomfort in pets, hoping they might be safer or gentler options than commonly used products. But it can be hard to know what works, what is actually safe, and which to choose. 

What are some of these popular natural options for pet joint discomfort? CBD is one of the most popular and effective natural therapies, but what makes CBD + CBDA stand out from the pack? 

Table of contents 

Signs of discomfort 

How can you tell if your dog is experiencing joint discomfort? There are a few key indicators to look for: 

  • Does your dog have difficulty getting up off his bed in the morning?  
  • Has your dog stopped climbing stairs or hesitate before climbing stairs?  
  • Has he stopped jumping in or out of the car?  
  • Has your pup stopped or slowed playing with toys or other dogs?  
  • Restlessness, panting, agitation  
  • Stiffness or lameness  

If you see any of the above signs, it is likely that your dog is experiencing significant discomfort. 

Why natural options are attractive 

Unfortunately, while commonly used products can work well in addressing joint discomfort, they often come with negative side effects. Particularly with long-term use, commonly used products may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and decreased appetite, and over time, issues like gastrointestinal upset and kidney and liver complications. 

As pet parents become educated in the potential risks of these products, they are seeking alternative solutions in the form of natural options.   

Is natural always best? 

The assumption is that natural means safe, or that natural must be gentle. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. An untested natural product can be harmful, so researching any product, natural or not, is necessary for the wellbeing of your pet.   

Pet parents should always consult their veterinarian about helping their pet with joint discomfort and to ask questions about alternative options. Veterinarians are typically very knowledgeable about many alternative therapies and can be an invaluable resource for you and your dog.  Therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic should only be performed by licensed veterinary professionals with certifications in these areas. 

Natural options 

Acupuncture 

Dog acupuncture

Used in China for over 3,500 years, acupuncture is used to address discomfort and support the function of organs by stimulating the nervous system. 

According to Chi University, traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force—known as chi—believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. 

Acupuncture involves inserting very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body, called acupoints, to produce reactions. Acupoints are well-mapped in humans. Fewer points have been identified in dogs, with many points transposed anatomically from humans to dogs. These acupoints have a high density of nerve endings, immune cells, and lymphatic vessels. These areas can also be stimulated through acupressure, cupping, aquapuncture, moxibustion, and electroacupuncture. 

Chiropractic 

Chiropractic is a non-invasive technique based on the relationship of the nervous system to the spinal cord. Manual correction of subluxations (improper alignment between two bones) allows the nervous system to function at an optimal level. 

Chiropractic is one of the few modalities in veterinary medicine where results are often immediate, often seen within minutes of treatment. In general, patients experience improved gait and comfort.  

Chiropractic care is meant as an adjunct therapy, not as a substitute for regular veterinary care. In orthopedic conditions such as fractures or ligament tears, chiropractic care may not replace the need for surgery, but will be useful in addressing secondary problems and discomfort caused by compensation to the injury.  

Chiropractic adjustment for both humans and dogs is safe when it’s performed by someone trained and certified to deliver chiropractic care to a specific population. Always consult a licensed veterinary professional with specific certification, as serious complications can occur otherwise. 

Electromagnetic therapy 

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) delivers a micro-current to damaged tissue to trigger an animal’s own natural anti-inflammatory response and promote healthy cell function. 

PEMF is approved by the FDA to treat several diseases in humans, and it offers the same benefits for animals. For dogs, it is commonly used to address joint discomfort, inflammation, stiffness, bone injuries, and wounds. PEMF products like the Assisi Loop have been used to treat ligament injuries, spinal cord injuries, and neurological conditions. 

One of the main benefits of PEMF therapy is that it’s safe and non-invasive. There are no negative risks or side effects, which is not true for more commonly used products or surgery. However, despite a long-time interest in the potential medical applications of electricity, veterinarian Brennen McKenzie points out that there is surprisingly little evidence showing meaningful clinical benefits. 

Herbals and botanicals 

The use of herbs and plants for therapeutic purposes has been practiced for millennia all over the world. Veterinary herbal products include Western herbs, Ayurvedic herbs from India, traditional Chinese herbs, and many others. Most modern-day herbal formulations are derived from age-old formulas used for generations by physicians practicing traditional Chinese medicine. 

Turmeric is a popular herbal ingredient you have likely heard of. It contains curcumin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These benefits can address swelling and discomfort but the product must have good bioavailability which garden variety turmeric from the kitchen does not.  There are formulations used in humans and people where the curcumin has been emulsified with small lipids or phospholipids so you or your pet can absorb them better.  

Herbal formulations from licensed distributors have been researched thoroughly and documented through clinical studies to be safe and effective. However, at large doses, gastrointestinal upset may occur. Consult your veterinarian about the use of herbal and botanical options. 

Hydrotherapy 

Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, can refer to any therapeutic use of water to support health. For dogs, hydrotherapy usually consists of either swimming or walking in water, whether in shallow water along the beach or on an underwater treadmill. 

Hydrotherapy can be used as part of a very specific, structured program with the goal of easing joint discomfort in pets and improving function after injury or surgical procedures. The low-impact nature of hydrotherapy exercise allows for more comfortable muscle building and movement, which is helpful for supporting mobility in the long term. It can be used in patients of all ages, including senior patients with joint discomfort and muscle atrophy. 

Massage 

When joints and muscles get achy, simple massage is non-invasive, relaxing, and often offers immediate results. 

The benefits of massage therapy for dogs include improved circulation, improved joint mobility, stimulated healing process, reduced discomfort, and sleep support. Massage can address inflammation, discomfort, and help release happy endorphins in the brain that lead to increased feelings of relaxation and a more comfortable state. 

It is important to keep in mind that massage is not a standalone treatment. While it is an excellent supplementary treatment, it won’t replace a comprehensive treatment plan from your veterinarian. 

Thermotherapy and cryotherapy 

Heat 

Thermotherapy involves applying external heat to your pet, with a moist, warm towel or heating blanket. Heat can reduce inflammation and stiffness, improve blood flow, and address joint discomfort.  

Thermotherapy can also be used to warm up ligaments, tendons, and muscles prior to exercise or massage, as it improves flexibility. In addition to these benefits, heat therapy provides comfort, relaxation, and stress support.   

Cold 

Cryotherapy involves applying cold compresses to your pet, with bags of frozen peas or soft gel ice packs. This constricts blood vessels and addresses inflammation, muscle spasms, and joint discomfort.  

It is important to note that cryotherapy is typically used within the initial stages of an injury or onset of discomfort, approximately 48 hours. Heat application with thermotherapy is then used to address longer term discomfort. 

CBD + CBDA 

CBD + CBDA is a powerful natural option for addressing your dog’s discomfort and one of the most popular and utilized therapies. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA is proven safe and effective in clinical trials for helping dogs by modulating perception of discomfort. This helps them maintain comfortable joint function. 

CBD + CBDA is extremely beneficial for use during physical rehabilitation and in conjunction with other natural therapies like acupuncture and hydrotherapy, maximizing positive results for joint discomfort.  

More than just discomfort 

When experiencing discomfort and reduced mobility, dogs can understandably become stressed and agitated. More severe stress can then make inflammation and physical discomfort worse, so it is important to tackle stress as soon as possible. 

Not only does CBD + CBDA directly address joint discomfort, but it also provides support for stress associated with this discomfort. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can offer support for dogs’ generalized stress by helping their stress levels decrease and return to a normal state of balance. CBD and CBDA truly calms without sedating, which is key to allowing dogs to handle stressful situations like being cooped up with discomfort and limited mobility. 

ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort chews act quickly to provide maximum support for dogs experiencing situational stress surrounding vet visits or physical therapy sessions, which can be challenging with joint discomfort. When given 1.5 hours ahead of an appointment, these chews are extremely effective in addressing acute level of stress.  

Bottom line 

CBD + CBDA can be an excellent alternative to commonly used products and an excellent natural option to use alone or in conjunction with other therapies. However, it is important to emphasize that not all CBD + CBDA is created equal. The results of a study using one product cannot be applied to another product. Make sure you know how to find a quality CBD + CBDA product for your pet

For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your canine friend live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help. 

Any health or medical information in ElleVet blogs is from a variety of public and reputable sources. This information is intended as an educational resource only and is not a substitute for expert professional care.  

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