Arthritis is an unfortunate reality for many pets. Once they hit a certain age, pets are more likely to stiffen up and slow down as their joints become inflamed and painful. While there are a number of pet arthritis treatments that relieve swelling and pain through medication, there are even more non-traditional methods that can round out your pet’s management plan.
Traditional treatments like steroids and anti-inflammatory medications might help some pets, but they might not be the right choices for others. And, mainstream methods like supplements with MSM and glucosamine or regular exercise might not be enough to relieve your pet’s pain. If you’re looking for all-natural, holistic treatments to help your pup or cat manage their condition, a few alternative treatment methods might be perfect to add.
These six alternative arthritis treatments might be what your pet is missing.
- Herbal supplementation: Supplements containing compounds like glucosamine and MSM may help stimulate the production of healthy cartilage, which cushions the joints. Many pets who currently have or are prone to arthritis take these types of supplements with great results. However, there are even more types of arthritis supplements to explore. Some supplements contain a blend of herbs like yucca root and turmeric, which are believed to help joints move easily and reduce bodily inflammation. Others may contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful fatty acids capable of reducing inflammation, so your pet’s joints don’t feel as stiff.
- Probiotics: Probiotic supplements might also be useful for helping your cat or dog manage their arthritis. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help balance the microbiome inside your pet’s gut. In doing so, probiotics help strengthen your pet’s immune system (which is closely related to gut health) and reduce inflammatory markers throughout the body, which may reduce chronic inflammation in the joints.
- Acupuncture: Veterinary acupuncture is a holistic practice derived from traditional Chinese medicine. By strategically placing needles around your pet’s body, a trained veterinary specialist helps draw blood flow to certain pain points and stimulate the release of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving chemicals. Acupuncture is believed to offer pain relief for sore joints and the surrounding tissues after a few sessions. For many pets, it’s a great non-invasive, completely natural treatment for chronic arthritis that is safe for the long term, unlike many medications.
- Massage: Pet massage therapy is another safe, non-invasive and gentle treatment for pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Massage also helps stimulate blood flow to certain areas, which floods the body parts with oxygen and nutrients. It can also help relieve muscles and tissues that might have tightened due to altered movement from joint pain. Plus, massage feels great for dogs and cats! The result is often a more relaxed and flexible pet. You can massage your pet at home after learning a few techniques or treat your pet to a professional session.
- Water therapy: Exercise is a very important part of a well-rounded arthritis treatment plan for pets of all ages and sizes. It’s critical that your pet keep moving to keep the joints loose and flexible. Otherwise, they will continue to tighten more! Unfortunately, some pets are harder to encourage to exercise than others because they are in quite a bit of pain. In this case, a gentle method like water therapy might help. Being in the water helps support your pet’s weight, which takes pressure off their joints and makes moving easier. A specialist can work with your dog in the water to stretch and move their limbs to increase their range of motion without the painful impact of running or walking on land.
- Laser therapy: A relatively new arthritis therapy method is low-level cold laser therapy, which uses targeted light wavelengths across your pet’s body. This treatment is intended to increase circulation in the targeted areas, decrease swelling and reduce pain. Laser therapy was originally designed for humans but has shown promising results in pets with arthritis. It is also non-invasive and easy to apply to pets.
Create a holistic pain relief plan for your pet
Arthritis treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all for pets. Your cat or dog might need to rely on a combination of treatment methods—some conventional and some alternative—to truly find relief from pain and stiffness.
Make sure you speak with your vet before beginning any new treatments to understand their side effects and how they might interact with other treatments your pet is using. However, many alternative methods make great additions to a holistic plan and can help your pet feel their best.