Holistic Therapies for Canine Hip Dysplasia

Many remedies are available to help treat a dog's symptoms by reducing swelling and minimizing pain.


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Vitamin E: Another antioxidant, vitamin E (a fatsoluble vitamin) helps to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. Vitamin E helps to maintain the structural and lipid integrity of the cell membranes by preventing free radicals from attacking the bodys lipids.

B-complex vitamins: B-complex vitamins help animals to cope with stress, but as water-soluble vita-mins, they are the first to leave a dogs body when he is experiencing stress or pain. For this reason, holistic veterinarians recommend supplementing a dysplastic dogs diet with B-complex vitamins so that at a minimum the dog will be receiving the required vitamin levels for a normal dog.

Chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine: In recent years, chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine have received much publicity in treating arthritis in humans and in treating arthritis and hip dysplasia in pets. The many benefits of using these supplements have gained recognition among conventional practitioners as well as holistic doctors; both supplements are currently the subjects of several studies.

So what do these supplements do for a dog suffering from hip dysplasia? Glucosamine, which is made of sugar (glucose) and an amino acid, is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of both cartilage and synovial fluid. It can be derived from mammals (bovine trachea, aorta, and nasal septum), shellfish, sharks, and plants. Glucosamine has shown promise in slowing or stopping the degenerative effects of hip dysplasia. Researchers are currently testing the effects of glucosamine on subjects ranging from dogs and horses to humans. The substances also have shown promise in causing few if any of the undesirable side effects caused by many conventional drug therapies such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Chondroitin sulfates are long chains of sugar units that help inhibit enzymes that seek out and destroy cartilage in the hip joints. Chondroitin sulfates also help to keep water contained within the joint fluid.

When glucosamines are used with chondroitin sulfates, the effect is reported to be synergistic in that the whole has a much greater effect than the sum of either of its parts working alone in stimulating the body to produce cartilage. The combined therapy is gaining in popularity, not only with holistic veterinarians but with conventional practitioners as well. (The use of the combined nutrients is promoted by Dr. Jason Theodosakis, a Board Certified preventive medicine physician, in his books The Arthritis Cure and Maximizing the Arthritis Cure.) 

Owners should be aware that as with other holistic products, those containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates can vary widely in quality and therefore in effectiveness. It would be wise to ask your veterinarian which product he or she feels is most effective and to obtain his or her advice as to the proper dosage for your dog.

Natural anti-inflammatories: Many holistic veterinarians recommend using such natural products as green-lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus), yucca, boswellia, and super oxide dismu-tase (SOD), instead of NSAIDS, to reduce inflammation and pain. NSAIDS, when given for an acute or chronic condition such as hip dysplasia, can cause serious side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, blood problems, and liver failure.

In addition to nutritional supplements, chiropractic, and acupuncture, holistic veterinarians frequently integrate the following therapies into treatment plans for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia.

Next step: Flower Essences

Reprinted from The Essential Guide to Natural Pet Care for Dogs: Hip Dysplasia © 1999. Permission granted by BowTie Press.

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