Many dogs deal with occasional inflammation, and some dogs deal with chronic inflammation. If you believe that your dog may have pain or swelling related to inflammation, it’s important to be in tune with your dog’s needs. Here’s what you should do if you suspect your dog is dealing with inflammation.
What Causes Inflammation in Dogs?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a situation it perceives needs healing. The body sends inflammatory markers to injured tissues, requesting immune cells’ assistance in resolving the issue.
With minor injuries, inflammation naturally resolves over time. However, certain conditions can cause long-term (or chronic) inflammation that the body cannot easily resolve.
In many regards, inflammation in dogs is identical to inflammation in humans. Dogs are susceptible to many of the same conditions that cause inflammatory responses in people.
Conditions Like Arthritis
Canine arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes joint discomfort in dogs. Arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly recognizes healthy joint tissue as foreign or unnecessary, and repeatedly sends inflammatory markers to the affected joints. Arthritis is a condition that requires long term management.
Excess Body Weight
When your dog becomes overweight, the burden on their joints becomes substantially greater. Joints are built to handle healthy and proportionate weight, to their size. Every additional pound your dog weighs piles stress on their joints, wearing them down and creating pain and inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal response to an injury. If your dog has been injured, you shouldn’t be attempting to treat them at home. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible following an injury, especially if the extent of the injury isn’t immediately clear. Your dog may appear fine, but could be masking pain.
Do Human Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Work for Dog Inflammation?
You should absolutely never give human anti-inflammatory drugs to your animal. Dogs don’t respond to drugs the same way that humans do, and many of the things in your medicine cabinet can be toxic or fatal to your dog.
There are some foods with modest anti-inflammatory properties that you can incorporate into your dog’s diet, but they won’t actually manage or cure inflammation. They’ll simply provide a little boost to your dog’s body as it attempts to naturally manage its own inflammation.
In some cases, your dog’s body may not be able to naturally manage that inflammation at all. Your dog will require an all-encompassing holistic approach to wellness that involves medical intervention for any underlying medical condition.
First Things First, Speak To Your Vet About Your Dog’s Suspected Inflammation
The best course of action for resolving your dog’s inflammation is to use a veterinary approach in conjunction with wellness changes you can make at home. There isn’t any diet, supplement, or special food that can treat or manage injuries or conditions like canine arthritis. The very first thing you need to do is seek your vet’s advice.
Your vet may prescribe medications to help treat underlying conditions. Your dog may require special physical therapy or a complete overhaul of their daily routine. You should always listen to your vet above all else. It’s important to remember that the internet has never met or diagnosed your dog — your vet has the best background on your pup’s specific health history to be able to best help them and figure out what’s going on.
How To Naturally Reduce Your Dog’s Inflammation at Home
When you visit your vet about your dog’s inflammation, raise a few questions about your dog’s activity, weight, diet, and stress level. Your vet may encourage you to make some simple changes at home to support your dog’s overall health. Some of these changes might have a positive impact on your dog’s inflammation over time, especially weight loss if your dog is overweight.
Help Your Dog Maintain an Appropriate Weight
If your dog is overweight, you need to safely and gradually help your dog to reduce their weight. Even the best pet owners may not always be mindful of the amount their dog should be eating, and miscommunications often occur in households where multiple family members take an interest in caring for the dog.
This can lead to a dog being regularly overfed or being given a surplus of treats. Assigning responsibilities and clearly communicating about whether or not the dog has been fed can prevent miscommunications that can harm your dog’s health. Removing treats and human food from your dog’s daily life can also help to assure your dog reaches a stable weight.
Dog food comes with weight-related instructions on the back of the package. High-quality dog food is designed to be nutritionally complete. You’ll find a list of measurements of dog food correlated with your dog’s weight that will help you determine the proper amount of food your dog is supposed to eat each day. Follow these instructions.
Don’t give your dog less than what the package says. Increasing exercise and eliminating treats can safely create a healthy caloric deficit that will promote gradual and gentle weight loss.
If you live in a household with multiple pets, feed them separately to prevent your dog from eating food that wasn’t intended for them.
Feed Your Dog Wholesome Food
What you feed your dog is just as important as how much and how often you feed your dog. Lower quality dog food is generally not as nutritious as wholesome high quality dog food made from fresh, whole food ingredients.
Use a food formulated with recognizable ingredients like chicken, brown rice, and vegetables. Avoid foods with artificial ingredients. Feed your pet like you would feed your family.
Provide Your Dog with Plenty of Exercise
Dogs need exercise. Movement helps to stimulate circulation and build muscle, two things necessary for healthy joints and a healthy heart. Dogs with inflammation or overweight dogs may be more resistant to the idea of exercise at first, as they’ll likely find it uncomfortable. The key is to find a type of exercise your dog enjoys.
Dogs who experience discomfort during exercise often prefer exercising in water. Water helps to take the feeling of pressure and stress off of joints. Many rehabilitation facilities that offer physical therapy for dogs will have aquatic exercise programs that will allow your dog to safely get back into better shape.
Some dogs have the desire to move around more but aren’t given the opportunity to do so. If you haven’t fenced in your yard and made it safe for your dog to freely roam, it may be time to do that. A safely fenced yard will allow your dog the opportunity to run, play, and exercise at their leisure. If you’re a busy person who can’t necessarily fit in a few walks into a day, your fenced yard benefits both you and your pet.
Reduce Stress in Your Dog’s Life
Stress doesn’t directly contribute to inflammation, but it does negatively impact your dog’s life in a multitude of ways. If your dog is too restless to sleep, too tense to enjoy exercise, or overeats as a result of distress, it’s important to remedy the cause. Your house should feel calm and safe to your dog. Your dog needs a comfortable bed to sleep in and plenty of mental stimulation throughout the day.
If you keep your dog happy, your dog will be more likely to enjoy their quality of life, with or without inflammation.
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