By Guest Author Barbara Osgood-Hartness, In Clover
Joint disorder is the #1 chronic condition affecting up to 25% of dogs. Yet less
than 15% of dogs afflicted with joint disease actually receive care, thus
reducing the quality of life for the animal. Injury, repeated stress, excess
weight, poor diet, and genetic predisposition can contribute to unhealthy
joints. There are effective treatment options available and significant
differences among them.
When the Healthy Joint Becomes Unhealthy
In healthy conditions, the natural joint building blocks, cartilage and synovial
fluid, reduce friction and act as a shock absorber. The body makes these joint
building blocks normally by producing glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. These GAGs
consist of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. In the
unhealthy joint, production of these joint building blocks is impaired. The
animal’s body is unable to keep up with demand for building blocks, resulting in
irritation, inflammation, pain, and decreased mobility.
Common Signs of Unhealthy Joints
Pet guardians can easily recognize signs of unhealthy joints in their dog or
cat. For dogs, one might notice decreased endurance, stiffness following
activities, inability to jump into the car or onto furniture, hesitation getting
up, difficulty with stairs, and stumbles or “bunny hops.” Cats tend to show
signs of joint disorder by reduced grooming, due to pain when twisting or
turning. Cat owners may also notice long and overgrown toenails, since
scratching hurts the toes and feet. Also, joints may be swollen and seem painful
Pet guardians have many options to treat unhealthy joints in their dogs and
cats, but they fall primarily into two different categories. There are
pharmaceutical, or drug, options and there are natural alternatives. Drug
options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which block the
production of prostaglandins associated with pain and inflammation; COX-2
inhibitors, which target specific prostaglandins, and Aspirin/Ascriptin®, which
reduces pain. These drugs are very good at blocking pain and decreasing
inflammation. They do not however add to the body’s joint lubricants or
biochemical process. Because of the often unacceptable side effects and inherent
mechanisms of NSAIDs, there has been a market push toward natural alternatives.
Natural treatment, uses alone or with a drug option, has demonstrative benefits.
The Natural process supplies the body with the joint building blocks-
glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. This is what the pet’s body would
provide in a healthy situation. Complete Natural Alternatives also provide
select ingredients such as herbs to increase circulation, decrease inflammation
and slow oxidative damage allowing the body to repair and rebuild the affected
Key Active Ingredients in Natural Treatment Alternatives:
Non-complete vs. Complete Formulas
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives no treatment, recovery is not
likely due to continuing pain, swelling and the body’s inability to produce
enough of the joint building blocks. This will lead to a less comfortable and
less active life for the pet.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives an incomplete formula, containing
only glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate, repair of the joint is enabled but
the recovery of the pet is not optimized, since these ingredients do not address
the inflammation and oxidative free radicals.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives a complete formula that combines
the joint building blocks with ingredients to decrease inflammation, increase
circulation, remove free radicals and enhance absorption, optimal and
accelerated recovery will result.
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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for
informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product.
The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian.
Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff,
guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care
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