Our gorgeous dog, Sausage has been with us for about 6/7 years, a rescue from Battersea Dogs Home. He is a Staffie/Labrador or, when I am feeling “posh”, a Staffydor! When we first brought him home he was underweight, suffering with poor digestion and I was worried about his joints as they were rather “clicky”.
We initially fed him on kibble but I noticed that this seemed to increase his flatulence, weepy eyes, bloating and diarrhea especially if it had any form of wheat in it. Crazy I know because this is a dog who finds things to eat when we are out that we consider inedible or downright disgusting! Initially I changed his diet to a kibble which excluded wheat and eventually all forms of gluten – a brand called Burns was a great start together with a daily dose of Aloe Vera gel. He tolerated this protocol well but still suffered with weepy eyes and flatulence, although they were improving. After further research and talking to an animal naturopath friend I began to research the BARF diet. This is essentially a raw meat diet with added vegetables and marrow. I changed his food from the kibble to the raw food – I bought it from www.naturalinstinct.com but there are various brands. Anyway, he started to thrive!! All was going well and Sausage was happy, energetic and playful until about March of this year (2012). He woke one day in a lot of pain, he was really stiff especially when first getting up and generally was not himself. He couldn’t jump into the car, climb the stairs, run or even walk without limping and crying. After a visit to the vet we were recommended anti-inflammatories. We tried these initially but he still did not impove. Next the vet suggested a bio-flow collar and acupuncture. The collar is OK but he was way to wimpish to tolerate acupuncture (although it did seem to ease the pain). Eventually we were referred to an animal specialist who diagnosed arthritis in the ankles – a hereditary issue for both Staffs and labradors. For 6 weeks we were asked to walk him on the lead for no more than 10 minutes three times per day with absolutely no running or playing with a ball, no swimming in the local pond unless we were able to dry him completely, to place carpet down for him to sit on at home and to lift him into the car! If he was not better after 6 weeks he would be prescribed steroids and need an operation! I was bereft at the thought of long term medication and wondered how Sausage would cope with such a limited amount of exercise. Here was a dog who was always on the go, loved a 6-8 mile walk daily and was his happiest chasing a ball. In July I applied my naturopathic principles. We left th bio-flow collar on but I added Turmeric to his food which is a great anti-inflammatory, plus Super Senior Glucosamine supplementation from www.dindins.co.uk which is a product full of seagreens, rosehip, green lipped mussels, chonodrotin, glucosamine and MSM amongst others. I included krill oil daily and continued with the aloe vera. I took him to the local clean pond to swim gently most days and dried him well. We continued with the raw food diet but had to change his fish based raw food meal to a chicken one due to new legislation about fish products. After a short while he started to improve – in fact when we returned to the specialist he was amazed at how well Sausage had progressed. There was no need for an operation or steroids, he was discharged, back to health and ready for his regular walks.
I have currently removed the turmeric, reduced the krill oil and aloe vera supplementation to every other day and reduced the glucosamine mix to a maintenance dose. Sausage still wears his bioflow collar daily. He seems fine. It is too cold for a swim in the pond during the winter months and I may need to increase the supplementation and take him for some hydrotherapy if I notice his joints causing him problems but right now I am thrilled that a naturopathic approach has helped him and he is back to his normal bouncy self!
If you have a dog who suffers with arthritis I would advise you to consider its food and whether a certain diet and specific nutrients, a bioflow collar, acupuncture and hydrotherapy would support it. Nutrient dosages need to be formulated on the animals weight so please do not give them human measures as this may not be appropriate!