Holistic Concepts About Arthritis, Lameness & Stem Cell Therapy

Arthritis is probably the most common of the chronic diseases that progressively steals quality life from our senior dogs. Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can effect any size dog or cat but is seen much more often in larger breed dogs. Arthritis often starts with stiffness and is first noticed when the older dog has a hard time rising in the morning. In time the owner may noticed that their dog is slower going up the stairs and may be reluctant to jump into the car. A dog with hip displasia or hip arthritis tends to run like a rabbit using both back legs at once. As the arthritis progresses the dog may begin to hold up or favor one limb. He or she may walk with short stiff steps and the dog’s gait may show a hind end instability (swaying).  The pet’s hind legs may shuffle along the ground while walking.  At the end stages of arthritis the pet may not be able to rise without the owners help. It is a sad thing to see otherwise healthy animals euthanized because their caregiver is unable to lift them up in order to get them outside when they need to eliminate.

It is my opinion much of the arthritis our dogs experience could be eliminated by changing their diets from a grain based food to a more meat based recipe when they are young.  Just because the first ingredient on the pet food  ingredient list is meat does not make the diet meat based. The only way to distinguish if a food is meat based is to asked the company’s nutritionist (not customer support person) “what percent of their food is meat when measured on a dry matter basis ?” Judged on this basis, most pet foods are no more than 20% meat. Grain based diets are hard for carnivores to digest and the poorly digested large grain protein molecules act as allergens which damage the intestinal lining and result in a “leaky gut syndrome”. This leaky gut allows grain protein molecules to get into the blood stream where they can migrate to the pet’s joints and set up an inflammatory reaction. Feeding your pet a meat based diet will help prevent the above sequence of events. Supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes, fish oil, and antioxidants will help reduce the likelihood of arthritis.

If your dog has already developed arthritis there are a number of ways  to help slow its progression  and reduce the discomfort it produces.  Personally, I am not a big proponent of using non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)  like Rimidyl or Deramax to reduce inflammation and pain because their long term use may result in gastro intestinal, liver, and kidney disease .  Injections of “chondroprotective” substances, like Adequin and hylauronidic acid which will increase joint fluid production and encourage cartilage and ligament repair can be  a much more effective arthritis remedies.   It has also been shown that long term use of NSAID drugs in humans actually results in cartilage degeneration .   Providing  oral glucosamine, chondroitin , MSM, Gerizyme, Adequin, Legend, Zeel , systemic enzymes, hyaluronic acid, Comfort Zone and antioxidants in place of NSAIDs can also be very helpful in restoring joint integrity and, in my opinion, is a much preferred approach to the more problematic drugs.

Other  alternative/ holistic ways to treat advanced arthritis include , acupuncture, chiropractic,  Frequency Specific Microcurrent therapy (FSM), “infra-sonic therapy”, “pulsed magnetic therapy”, prolotherapy, gold bead implants, cold laser therapy, physical therapy,  and massage therapy.  Teaching pet owners how to massage their pet and provide passive range of motion can be very helpful in extending and enhancing their pets quality of life.   Of course it goes without saying that keeping your pet at the proper weight and frequencly trimming your dog’s nails will make a big difference in how he or she walks.  Prolotherapy is a non surgical approach to treating torn cruciate ligaments and in my hands has been quite successful in repairing unstable  the knee joints in dogs.    

Finally, I want let my readers to know about a very exciting advance in arthritis therapy. Adult stem cell technology is now available to help treat advanced arthritis. The stem cells are harvested from the patients own fat. These stem cells can be injected intravenously or directly into joints.  Fat derived stem cells are “non embryonic” andwill develop into connective tissue and cartilaginous cells which will help to rejuvenate the damaged joint.  This technology  has already been used successfully in hundreds of dogs and horses and although still on the expensive side is now available to the family pet. Presently I am one of the few veterinarians certified to provide such therapy.  Adding “cold laser therapy” to stem cell therapy has improved  my chances of a successful outcome.

Detecting the early signs of arthritis and instituting early treatment can make a huge difference in the success of therapy. Providing a high quality meat based diet, with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants along with weight management and regular exercise can help prevent the onset of arthritis and help extend both the quality and quantity of the pet’s life.


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both conventional andalternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at  www.doc4pets.com

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio

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