Whether it’s allergies, acute or chronic pain, or disease, the root cause can be traced back to inflammation. Drugs are often the primary treatment option recommended by veterinarians and even the first treatment of choice by many pet parents. But there are natural anti-inflammatory remedies that are just as effective and safe for your dog.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to any type of injury, infection, or perceived threat to health. The immune system launches a biological response to help the body heal and defend it against a foreign invader. Sometimes, the body also attacks its own cells or tissues when it mistakenly identifies them as harmful. The immune system releases chemicals to the bloodstream, which increases blood flow to the target area. This, in turn, causes the characteristic redness, warmth, and swelling associated with inflammation.
Inflammation can also cause pain and other symptoms, such as loss of function, fatigue, and fever. When the inflammation is caused by an auto-immune response - when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells or tissues - this often leads to a variety of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, psoriasis, and even cancer.
Why should you avoid conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for your dog?
NSAIDs are commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat a dog’s inflammation. These drugs work by providing pain relief and reducing swelling, redness, and/or fever; they do not treat the cause but only address the symptoms of inflammation. While they are most effective, they also come with serious side effects, especially when used long-term.
These side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating, heartburn, stomach pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
- Allergic reactions, such as rashes, wheezing, and swelling of the throat.
- Dizziness and/or headaches.
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
- Long-term use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach ulcers, a tendency to bleed more, and kidney or liver problems.
Fortunately, your dog is not limited to NSAIDs in order to feel better. There are a variety of natural anti-inflammatory remedies that you can try to prevent inflammation, treat it, or both.
Natural anti-inflammatory remedies for your dog
Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is, of course, the best way to ensure optimal health and make his body strong enough to effectively fight off disease and quickly heal from injury. There are also some foods you can add to his diet which can prevent or reduce inflammation.
You can give some of these anti-inflammatory ingredients on their own, or mix them into your four-legged friend’s favorite homemade recipe. Some of these natural anti-inflammatories are available as primary ingredients in other pet-friendly food products.
Remember to always consult your vet before supplementing your dog’s diet with a new ingredient, whether for the purpose of supporting his overall health or to treat an existing condition.
This is one of the best natural health supplements with anti-inflammatory properties that you should add to your dog’s diet. Fish oil supports heart health, skin health, immune health, and brain function. It also helps maintain your dog’s silky coat, relieves allergies, and eases joint pain. Fish oil has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Salmon and mackerel are two of the best sources of fish oil for your best bud.
This is a type of microscopic algae that is loaded with nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms, boost the immune system, promote gastrointestinal health, support the kidney and liver’s detoxifying function, and reduce the risk and rate of cancer.
When buying spirulina, make sure it comes from a reputable manufacturer. Poor-quality spirulina may contain heavy metals and other toxic contaminants.
Ginger is not only effective in relieving nausea and gas, but also in easing pain associated with arthritis and promoting blood circulation in senior dogs.
However, ginger should not be given to your dog ginger if he has diabetes or a heart problem. Ginger may act as a blood thinner so do not give it to Fido prior to surgery, or if he is bleeding from an open wound.
This is a flowering shrub that is commonly used in herbal medicine. The plant is a great source of allantoin, a chemical compound known to promote skin health and healing.
Remember that comfrey should only be used externally. If your dog ingests the product, he may suffer from liver damage. Avoid using topical comfrey is you can’t guarantee that your pet will not lick it after you apply it to his skin.
Meadowsweet is an herb that delivers the same effects as aspirin. This plant is often used to treat colds, bronchitis, heartburn, an upset stomach, peptic ulcer disease, arthritis, gout, and bladder infections.
Horsetail can help facilitate quicker healing, even in post-surgical trauma, as it promotes the repair and healing of cartilage, bones, and tissues. When combined with comfrey or other joint health botanicals, horsetail enhances pain-relief from arthritis.
Capsaicin, which is found in cayenne, is a potent anti-inflammatory that provides substantial pain relief when taken orally. It also works as a vasodilator - dilating the blood vessels to improve circulation throughout the body. Cayenne can also help ease external inflammation when applied topically. Just make sure you give your dog the appropriate amount so as not to cause an upset stomach.
The medicinal properties of licorice are derived from the roots of the plant. Glycyrrhizi, the active component in licorice root, has a chemical structure similar to corticosteroids and, therefore, can effectively help reduce symptoms of inflammation. Unlike corticosteroids, licorice root does not deliver any adverse side effects.
Yucca root contains steroidal saponins, which stimulate the body’s production of corticosteroids, thereby reducing inflammation. Yucca is best used in combination with other anti-inflammatory botanicals, such as alfalfa and licorice; when used on its own, yucca can cause some gastrointestinal issues.
Preventing inflammation in your dog
A surefire way to prevent inflammation is by avoiding giving Fido certain unhealthy foods that are known to contribute to inflammation. Do not feed your furry pal any of the following, especially if he’s already suffering from some inflammation. If you must, just give Fido small amounts and only occasionally.
- Processed meats, such as bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs, and sausage.
- Hard cheeses, except for feta, parmesan, and romano.
- Egg yolks
- Refined grains, such as white flour and white rice
- Margarine, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and shortening.
- High-sugar foods.
Natural Anti-Inflammatories for Your Dog - Final Thoughts
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to harmful agents, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, or to injury. Under normal circumstances, inflammation helps the body fight off infections and diseases and faciliate quick and complete healing.
However, the symptoms of inflammation can cause discomfort or pain. Chronic inflammation can also lead to more serious health problems. The conventional course of treatment for inflammation in dogs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
While these drugs are normally effective, they come with adverse side effects. When used long-term, they can also cause severe issues. If you want to take the natural route to improve your dog’s condition, there are plenty of natural anti-inflammatory remedies available that are just as effective, if not more, and safe.
Maintaining your dog’s healthy diet is also key to preventing or treating inflammation. Combined with regular exercise, you can ensure that Fido lives a long, healthy, and happy life.