Anti Inflammatory for Dogs: Why Controlling Inflammation is Critical For A Healthy Dog
Inflammation in dogs can both stem from, and contribute to, many health challenges. Dog parents who want to help their pup achieve and maintain an optimal quality of life need to understand what this problem can mean and how the proper nutritional support can help.
Whether your dog suffers from a known inflammatory disorder or you just want to keep him happy and healthy for life, take a moment to consider the following key points about inflammation in dogs.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation plays a key role in the body's nonspecific immunity against physical threats such as an infection or injury. When the immune system perceives such a threat, it releases large numbers of white blood cells, which then travel rapidly to the area in need of help. Inflammation may look and feel unpleasant, but it can help to wipe out invading germs and speed tissue repair.
Acute Inflammation vs. Chronic Inflammation
While inflammation usually proves helpful under normal circumstances, it can also cause problems if it gets out of control or occurs for the wrong reasons. Acute inflammation may cause redness, pain, and swelling, but these symptoms should go away once the underlying health issue resolves itself. Unfortunately, chronic conditions often lead to chronic inflammation. This state of ongoing, low-level inflammation can cause serious problems such as cell damage, joint trouble, premature aging, major organ disease, and even cancer.
Common Inflammatory Disorders: Symptoms and Complications
Dogs can develop a variety of chronic inflammatory problems, some of which are easier for owners to spot than others. You and your vet will want to watch out for the following common inflammatory conditions.
- Enteritis: Enteritis occurs when the small intestine becomes inflamed. Many kinds of irritants can trigger this condition, including parasites, allergies, intestinal blockages, and ingested germs such as bacteria or viruses. Dogs suffering from enteritis may experience abnormal stools, abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss, and fever.
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis commonly affects older dogs (just as it affects older humans), but it can also develop because of premature joint wear and tear. In this inflammatory condition, the cartilage that lines and cushions the bone ends in joints thins out and breaks up. Symptoms include swollen joints and painful stiffness when your dog tries to walk, climb stairs, lie down, or stand up.
- Hepatitis: Dogs can develop chronic inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) because of infections, reactions to toxic substances, or no identifiable reason. Genetics may also play a role, since the condition appears more often in such popular breeds as Chihuahuas, Springer Spaniels, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers. Symptoms include jaundice, an enlarged abdomen, increased thirst/urination, weight loss, diarrhea, and lethargy.
- Dermatitis: Dogs often suffer from skin inflammation related to canine allergic dermatitis, sometimes referred to as canine atopic dermatitis. This condition can affect any dog, but Bulldogs, Dalmations, Golden Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, and many breeds of terriers seem especially vulnerable to it. Common triggers include specific foods, airborne allergens, irritants that contact the skin, or even normal skin microorganisms. Dogs who lick or bite at the inflamed, itchy lesions caused by this condition may develop skin infections.
Veterinary Treatment Options for Canine Inflammation
Regular wellness exams can help your veterinarian identify a chronic inflammatory condition, even if that condition hasn’t yet displayed obvious external symptoms. Conditions such as osteoarthritis may reveal themselves through X-rays, visual evidence of joint swelling, and observations of your dog’s stance and gait. Allergy testing can help to confirm sources of skin inflammation. Analysis of blood, urine, and fecal samples can pinpoint internal problems related to chronic inflammation.
Veterinarians commonly treat inflammation with a combination of therapies. For example, anti inflammatory for dogs, such as NSAIDs or steroids, may help reduce inflammatory reactions. Histamines can help dogs with allergic inflammation. Dogs with osteoarthritis may also benefit from gentle exercise to keep the joints limber (and prevent unwanted weight gain that might stress the joints further).
Diet and nutrition also play important roles in the treatment of canine inflammatory disorders. Your dog may need a special diet to help him cope with digestive inflammation, allergies that trigger dermatitis, or organ problems related to chronic inflammatory damage.
Foods and Nutrients That Can Help Your Dog Manage Inflammation
Many foods and seasonings contain nutrients that can help to prevent or control chronic inflammation in dogs. This approach can prove safer and gentler than a heavy reliance on medications (which can produce unwanted side effects or interact with other prescription drugs).
Food allergy-based inflammation may recede after your pet switches to a hypoallergenic diet. For instance, if your dog has allergies to the proteins commonly found in commercial food products, he may do much better with a diet that relies on less common protein combinations such as eggs and rice, duck and peas, or fish and potatoes. Seasonings such as cinnamon and turmeric can also help control chronic inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a major ally in the fight against canine inflammation. These fatty acids — commonly found in salmon, anchovies, sardines, and other fatty fish — also come in fish oil supplement form. Omega-3 supplementation makes it easy to ensure that your dog gets enough of these fatty acids regularly, even if he doesn’t like fish.
Joint issues can start very small and overtime become serious. With the increase severity comes increased inflammation. Nutrients that help reduce inflammation, like omega fatty acids, are critical for treating the body's response. Additionally, the initial issue should be treated as well. Nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin help improve joint health and mobility. By helping lubricate and cushion the joint, these nutrients help to stop the damage that is causing inflammation.
Give your pet the regular evaluations he needs, work with your vet on any necessary treatment plan, and provide the right dietary and nutritional support to help your dog fight inflammation. Your best friend will appreciate it!
- Holly W