Daily life used to be a never-ending adventure for Matthew and his dog, Arthur. Jogging in the neighborhood, exploring the wilderness, enjoying picnics at the park — nothing could keep Matt and his four-legged partner inside!
But lately, Arthur hasn't been as excited about going on new adventures, much to his parent's concern. Pain, lethargy, discomfort, and behavioral changes have become the norm for this otherwise bundle of joy. Ultimately, Matthew decides to take Arthur to the vet and get to the bottom of things. The diagnosis? Inflammation.
In a nutshell, inflammation is the body's natural immune response occurring when its tissues are injured or damaged. This way, the body protects itself from harmful agents, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins, and initiates the healing process. Localized swelling is the clearest sign of inflammation in dogs.
Most symptoms of inflammation resolve themselves once the body achieves healing, but prolonged inflammation is a sign of more serious health issues. Treating this condition reactively can take a significant toll on your dog's health. That is why choosing a proactive approach — starting with a healthy diet packed with natural anti-inflammatory foods — is the safest way to keep your dog inflammation-free!
The Two Types of Inflammation in Dogs
The two types of inflammation affecting a dog's health are acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is the short-lived immune reaction we frequently associate this condition with — there's an injury or an infection, and the immune system sends in white blood cells to deal with the threat. Once the issue is resolved, the inflammation recedes, and the affected area is healthy again.
The onset of chronic inflammation occurs when the acute inflammation is mistreated or allowed to spread. That's when things become even more concerning, as chronic inflammation is linked to severe health issues, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Kidney failure
- Periodontal disease
- Shortened life span
How to Tell if Your Dog is Dealing With Inflammation
The clearest sign of inflammation is the swelling of the affected body area, accompanied by redness. The inflamed body part will become tender and painful, adding to your dog's discomfort. Moreover, behavioral changes will set in, such as disinterest in exercise, increased sleepiness, and difficulty waking up.
Approaching Inflammation in Dogs Proactively
When we look at the causes of many conditions affecting canine health — from allergies to cancer — we frequently identify chronic inflammation as the root source. And by the time the pet parent notices any change, the inflammation will have had plenty of time to settle in, causing other medical issues in the process.
At that point, a reactive approach is the only way to reverse the damage caused by inflammation. The go-to move of numerous pet parents is conventional anti-inflammatory medications. In many cases, veterinarians prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to contain the inflammation while providing pain relief.
NSAIDs come with serious potential side effects, which pet parents must be aware of. If your vet prescribes medicine for your dog, be sure to look it up and weigh the pros and cons. You want to battle the pain, but you don't want to jeopardize your dog's health in the process.
Every medical treatment becomes both helpful and harmful after a certain point. That's why proactiveness is your strongest weapon against inflammation. The more you observe your dog and take measures to keep them healthy, the lower the chances of them ever dealing with chronic inflammation!
Putting Your Dog on a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The first step in your proactive approach is ensuring that your dog stays away from foods that promote inflammation. That's where the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet comes into play.
A healthy anti-inflammatory diet balances Omega 3s and Omega 6s (i.e., members of the family of polyunsaturated fats). Preventing inflammation cannot be achieved without balancing Omega fatty acids (Omega 6s are inflammatory, whereas Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory) — you cannot completely get rid of Omega 6s in a dog's diet, but you can balance it with enough Omega 3s. Ham, bacon, egg yolks, refined grains, vegetable oil, and potatoes are examples of rich sources of Omega 6s. Having foods like these in the diet may raise inflammation, so you must choose Omega 3-rich ingredients to balance it out.
Instead of feeding these Omega 6-rich foods, it's time to switch to a natural diet that will help reduce inflammation, such as our Volhard Rescue! Switching to our hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, and grain-free food will be a true game changer in trying to prevent the development of many ailments, including inflammation and its associated pain. It will also help prevent deadly heart conditions and diabetes — often stemming from chronic inflammation — and slow the progression of health issues like arthritis or joint pain!
Improve Your Dog's Food With These Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Remedies!
Once you've laid the foundation, you can include herbs and homeopathics with anti-inflammatory properties in your dog's diet to minimize the risk of inflammation!
Alfalfa is an anti-inflammatory supplement already present in our Volhard food. It contains many nutrients and vitamins and helps with arthritis, pain, and inflammation.
Many holistic experts cite Arnica Montana as the best natural anti-inflammatory homeopathic. You can use it as a topical cream. It shouldn't be used in open wounds, though, since it stimulates the dilation and circulation of blood vessels. You can also use it as an oral homeopathic remedy to help your dog with any pain or discomfort.
Another herb with natural anti-inflammatory properties — and one of our Volhard favorites — is comfrey. It's an effective source of allantoin (i.e., a cell growth stimulator) and has many anti-inflammatory properties known to promote healing. Used externally, it helps reduce pain and distress. However, make sure that your dog can't reach the inflamed area since ingesting comfrey can be hazardous for their health.
Devil Claw's Root
Devil's Claw root is an African plant used for dogs suffering from arthritic pain. One of the ingredients found in this plant, harpagoside, is exceptionally effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
However, Devil's Claw root sometimes causes adverse reactions with conventional medicines; therefore, avoid feeding Devil's Claw root supplements if your dog is on medications.
Ginger is another one of the natural anti-inflammatory options found in our Volhard diets. It eases arthritis pain while relieving nausea and gas.Ginger also promotes circulation in aging dogs.
Be careful not to feed ginger to your dog before surgery because it is a blood thinner. Likewise, ginger can affect dogs suffering from heart problems or diabetes. For the most part, however, ginger supplements are benign as long as you're not excessively feeding them to your dog.
Horsetail is another anti-inflammatory herb with pain-relieving properties. In addition, horsetail supplements promote bone healing and alleviate connective tissue injuries.
Horsetail is exceptional for dogs and post-surgical trauma since it rebuilds cartilage, bone, and tissues. Holistic experts recommend combining horsetail with comfrey to treat arthritis pain.
The root of licorice has medicinal properties that reduce inflammation and provide natural pain relief. We recommend using licorice instead of conventional corticosteroids and their associated adverse effects.
Meadowsweet is one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents. It contains anti-rheumatic and analgesic properties that help dogs suffering from arthritis.
Spirulina is a microscopic alga that packs tons of needed nutrients while also having substantial anti-inflammatory benefits. It boosts the immune system, promotes gastrointestinal tract health, aids in detoxifying the kidney and liver, decreases cancer rate, and alleviates allergies. You could say that spirulina is a total wellness-of-the-body kind of anti-inflammatory supplement!
Always ensure you're buying from a reputable manufacturer, as the algae contain toxic byproducts and contaminants when not grown in the right conditions.
Yucca — which is also part of our AM/PM diet — contains steroidal saponins, which are precursors to naturally occurring corticosteroids in the body. Yucca supplements stimulate the production of corticosteroids, reduce pain and inflammation, and act as a natural appetite stimulant. It also decreases unpleasant odors in urine and feces by reducing urease production. Yucca is even more effective at treating arthritis when combined with other herbs, such as alfalfa, licorice, and dandelions.
Boost Your Dog's Anti-Inflammatory Diet With Natural Remedies!
For Matthew's dog, switching to anti-inflammatory food options was the secret to relieving inflammation and managing the associated pain. Need help figuring out how to proceed? For starters, introduce your dog to the anti-inflammatory Rescue diet, then experiment with the various natural supplements discussed today! Your dog will reward you for your help and diligence with a strong immune system capable of battling any sign of inflammation! For more advice on transitioning your dog to our Volhard diet, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!