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Occasional Inflammation Support for Dogs: What's the Safest Option?

When our dogs are uncomfortable, our hearts break. It’s hard to see a dog that is in discomfort, no matter what the cause.  Dogs are usually troopers in terms of keeping their heads high and dealing with discomfort, so when you see your dog suffering, it’s highly likely their discomfort has probably reached a fevered pitch.     If you suspect your dog is suffering, you can look for some signs:  
  • Limping or favoring a paw or leg
  • Refusal to play, eat or move around
  • Lethargy or sleeping more often than normal
  • Whining or crying

It’s important to try to determine the source of your dog’s discomfort, and the best way to do this is by having them examined by their veterinarian.  Though you may have seen your dog jump off the sofa and hurt her back, your veterinarian can determine if the injury is simply a twisted muscle or a more significant joint or bone issue.  Dogs don’t have the benefit of telling us exactly what is wrong, and a veterinarian is the best qualified person to help plan a course of action for treatment and some comfort.   

Just like humans, dogs can take certain medications for relieving discomfort, like the very common dog anti-inflammatory, Rimadyl.  Your dog’s veterinarian can help determine which medications are appropriate and needed for her issues.  Sometimes, however, these medications may have side effects that aren’t acceptable to you or don’t agree with your dog.    

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of medications given to your dogs for discomfort.   

What Are NSAIDS?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or “NSAIDs”, are medications that reduce inflammation and are prescribed for both people and animals, however, it is of extreme importance to note that the same NSAIDs prescribed to humans are not safe for dogs.    

This is why it is crucial for you to speak to your dog’s veterinarian to make sure that if your dog is in need of an NSAID discomfort reliever, they are given one that is veterinary grade and safe for their ingestion.  

NSAIDs work by reducing the amount of inflammation in your dog’s body and thereby alleviating discomfort that is associated with that inflammation.  NSAIDs may be prescribed to your dog after an operation, after an accident, or to help them with chronic discomfort from underlying conditions.  While these medications can sometimes be essential and necessary, it’s important to ensure you are only giving them to your dog as prescribed and as necessary to avoid as many side effects as possible.  

Possible Side Effects of NSAIDS for Dogs

Your dog’s veterinarian will likely not want to keep her on NSAID discomfort relievers for extended periods of time.  This is because, just like with humans, these medications can have side effects that aren’t good for us.    

NSAIDs are powerful discomfort relievers that are best used only when absolutely necessary and only when prescribed by your dog’s veterinarian.  Some of the most common side effects of NSAID usage are:  

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort.  Dogs who don’t tolerate NSAIDs well may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when these types of drugs are administered.  If this happens, discontinue use and speak with her veterinarian right away.  There may be a different medication that would work better for her.
  • Loss of appetite.  Some dogs may experience a loss of appetite while taking NSAIDs.  While this will likely dissipate, it’s important to notate any changes in your dog’s appetite and report them to her veterinarian if what she is experiencing falls outside of the range of appetite loss warned of by her vet or from the drug manufacturer. 
  • Lethargy, tiredness.  Your dog may become weak, tired, or nap more while taking NSAID discomfort relievers.  While this can be normal, a dog that needs daily medication may need something different if the medication she is on makes her perpetually drowsy.
  • Kidney and liver issues.  Because NSAIDs are processed through your dog’s kidneys and liver, the chance for damage to these organs is higher if the medications are taken long term.  As such, many pet owners whose dogs need long-term medication must be extremely careful in discussing long term medication use with their dog’s veterinarian so as to ensure their pet’s overall health.
 

Natural Ways to Support Our Dogs

Thankfully, there are supplements we can give our dogs to help support their overall joint and cartilage health, support and maintain their current level of mobility, and soothe sore muscles and aging bones.  Holistic, all-natural supplements can support your dog’s musculoskeletal system and help them feel better and move better.   Some of the most popular supplements for bone and cartilage health are:  
  • Turmeric.  Popular for use in humans as well as animals, turmeric has long been praised for its ability to provide temporary soothing to muscles and joints that are overworked from everyday activity or particularly strenuous exercise.  Turmeric is full of antioxidants which can also help support your dog’s immune system and maintain their overall health and wellness.  
  • Capsicum.  This is an extract from the chili pepper, and this spicy little supplement is thought to help increase circulation to your dog’s connective tissues and joints, and support their body’s own innate immune response.  
  • Glucosamine.  This is a naturally occurring compound found in cartilage that can be harvested from shellfish and given to your dog in supplement form.  This supplement supports cartilage health and keeps it strong!
 

Can CBD Help with Musculoskeletal Health?

Another all-natural supplement that can provide benefits for your dog’s musculoskeletal system is cannabidiol, or “CBD.”    

CBD is a plant-based chemical compound called a cannabinoid, which is extracted from a particular species of the cannabis-sativa plant.  CBD is one of over one hundred cannabinoids identified in the plant.    

CBD can be extracted from the cannabis-sativa plant in three main ways; as an isolate extract, broad-spectrum extract, or as a full-spectrum extract.  Isolate extracts contain only the cannabinoid CBD, with no other phytonutrients having been extracted along with it.  A broad-spectrum extract does contain some phytonutrients but does not contain any other cannabinoids except CBD.   

A full-spectrum extract contains CBD, along with all other usable phytonutrients like flavonoids, terpenes, other cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins.  When CBD is full-spectrum, it is able to produce the entourage effect.  The entourage effect refers to all parts of the cannabis-sativa plant working together synergistically to deliver maximum CBD benefit to your dog.  Only full-spectrum CBD extracts can deliver this benefit.  

CBD is non-intoxicating, so you needn’t worry about your dog feeling “high” or otherwise being compromised.  While full spectrum CBD does contain a trace amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the cannabinoid in marijuana that produces a feeling of euphoria, it isn’t enough to cause your dog to have a psychoactive reaction.  By law, a CBD product may only contain less than .03% THC.    

CBD extracts can be incredibly beneficial for your dog’s bone and joint health and can help your dog retain her current level of mobility by promoting this overall level of health.   

CBD oil is safe and generally well tolerated by dogs of all breeds.  CBD can also be administered daily, without concern for damage to the liver, kidneys, or your dog’s digestive tract.  If your dog is taking medications that cause side effects like appetite loss or nausea, CBD oil can help with occasional gastric distress along with supporting GI health as a whole.   

The best way to administer CBD oil to your dog is by using a high-quality CBD tincture made for pets.  A tincture is a liquid that contains CBD extract which has been dissolved into another carrier oil.  This allows your dog to receive CBD quickly and effectively.  VETCBD uses only full-spectrum CBD oil and organic extra virgin olive oil to craft our tinctures.    

When giving your dog a CBD oil supplement, you can simply give the oil to them directly from a syringe, as many dogs will tolerate this form of delivery quite well.  However, if your dog seems uninterested or difficult in taking CBD oil this way, you can add the oil to their food or to a special treat, which may encourage them to take it. Plus, CBD can even be better absorbed by your pet when given with food.    

Always Talk With Your Veterinarian First

The decision to give your dog anti-inflammatories or natural supplements should always be discussed with the veterinarian.  If your veterinarian suggests anti-inflammatories, discuss side-effects, long term usage, and other potential options for care.    

It’s important to advocate for your dog, and part of advocating for your dog is discussing options for supplements that can provide support and overall wellness for your dog’s bone and joint health.  If supplements are an option for your dog, speak to her veterinarian to discuss which supplements are right for her and can be administered safely along with her current care plan.    

Sources:  

https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/nsaids/#   https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-discomfort-relievers-pets

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