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Surgery Alternatives To Help With Your Aging Dog's Bone And Joint Disease

Face it. Your dog just isn't as nimble as he or she was as a lively 5-year-old. The signs of bone and joint disease can creep up slowly, or you may wake up one day and your furry friend suddenly no longer wants to jump up on his or her favorite spot on the sofa. It can be heartbreaking, but it's a natural part of aging. However, just because it's natural doesn't mean you can't do something to ease your pup's pain and improve quality of life.

When a younger dog experiences a bone or joint disorder such as dysplasia, osteochondritis, bone spurs, intervertebral disc disease, or arthritis, your veterinarian has a number of options for treating the disease or at least reducing the pain. He or she can prescribe pain killers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and if necessary, surgery. Although these methods have a degree of risk associated with them, when used properly, the benefits typically outweigh the problems. However, in older dogs, the risks are exacerbated. An older dog's liver may not be able to break down or properly filter the NSAIDS from the blood, resulting in serious side effects. And surgery in an older dog is also riskier because of possible liver problems, and the body of an older dog takes longer to heal properly. For these reasons, veterinarians are reluctant to use these methods, and an increasing number of them are turning to alternative treatments. Here are some that you may want to consider to relieve your dog's distress and make his or her golden years more golden.


Acupuncture is basically the same process in dogs as it is in humans. This ancient Chinese healing technique is based on the belief that there is a vital energy called chi that flows throughout the body through pathways called meridians. Practitioners of acupuncture believe that an imbalance of this energy (too much, too little, or blocked flow) results in disease. They believe that by inserting extremely thin acupuncture needles into specific points along these pathways, they can rebalance the energy and return the body to its naturally healthy state. It has been used in humans to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, and is becoming a popular form of alternative therapy for certain conditions in animals.

Many owners are concerned that the insertion of needles into the relevant acupuncture points is painful for a dog. However, the needles are so fine that dog patients are usually unaware of them, and they typically relax after needle insertion. The acupuncturist will set up a suitable schedule for treatments, which are cumulative and will decrease once notable improvements are seen. Your regular veterinarian should be able to tell you if acupuncture is a good option and help you find a qualified acupuncturist.


By using manual manipulation and stretching and strengthening exercises, a pet physiotherapist can help a dog retain muscle mass, increase flexibility, and restore proper movement to an arthritic joint. Typically, a dog will start out having physiotherapy sessions several times a week and decrease as the joint improves. Over time, physiotherapy can significantly decrease your dog's pain and increase his or her mobility.

Hydrotherapy or water therapy is just as it sounds—physical therapy in a pool. The water supports your furry friend and reduces the stress on his or her joints while exercising the surrounding muscles. The warm water also increases relaxation and relieves pain. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, so be sure to introduce hydrotherapy to your dog in a controlled environment with a trained animal hydrotherapist.


In addition to a high-quality dog food, many dogs benefit from supplements, including antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as products containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. These supplements can reduce the wear and tear on the cartilage lining the joints and may even help to repair it. Fish oil can also help prevent erosion of the cartilage and can lubricate the joint to allow freer movement with less pain.

If your senior dog is suffering with the joint problems that come with age, there are several ways to help increase mobility while reducing the pain. So before you opt for a risky surgery or jump to prescription pain medications, check into these and other natural remedies. Click here for more information.