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Is arthritis in your dog a reason to panic?

Is arthritis in your dog a reason to panic?

8 steps to naturally treat inflammation and pain

This morning, I had an ‘aha moment.’ It started with a conversation with an old friend and client. Her dog went for an examination and the veterinarian said her 15-year-old dog has arthritis!

She shared with me how worried she was and it dawned on me that I have seen this kind of exaggerated reaction many times before. In my practice, I often had to give people the reports of a newly diagnosed disease, such as liver disease, kidney disease, pancreatitis and hypothyroidism to name a few.

But an arthritis diagnosis makes people react with worry and anxiety ten times more than other diagnoses. This made me realize two things. One, I need to write a few words and explain why arthritis is generally not as serious as it may seem. Two, people react strongly to the news of arthritis because they don’t fully understand the condition and have been under the influence of decades of over-dramatized arthritis drug advertising.


Arthritis is a Latin term for joint inflammation. It originates from the Greek Arthron – joint and ends with ‘-itis,’ a Latin term for inflammation. Another example is myositis, which stands for muscle inflammation or hepatitis and originates from ‘hepar’ (the liver).

Arthritis is not always a serious condition, it just means there is inflammation in the joints.

Inflammation is a signal from the body that there is an activation of the immune system and potential tissue damage. From a holistic point of view, inflammation has several functions:

  • It is a signal, like a red light, that there is tissue damage
  • It induces discomfort to stop your dog from continuing the damaging activity
  • Inflammation is a normal part of a healthy healing response


Like everything in life, even inflammation has its duality. It serves an important purpose in the initial process of healing, but becomes a problem when it is long lasting or chronic, in other words when the healing process is not completed. 

Here are 7 main reasons why dogs arthritis becomes chronic:

  1. It is suppressed by drugs while the damage goes on. Suppressing inflammation and pain is like removing the signal light from your car’s dashboard when there is an oil leak in the engine.
  2. When the cause of the problem is not addressed. With arthritis, the focus should be addressing the causes and not suppressing the signal that there is something wrong. If you address the cause, the signal, including pain and discomfort, will disappear. 
  3. There is excessive toxin build up in the body and hair testing is one of the most effective ways to check your dog’s levels.
  4. When a particular body part is under an unusual degree of stress or overuse. Some good examples are ball-throwing injuries or damage caused by incessant pulling on the leash.
  5. The body lacks the essential nutritional building blocks, such as minerals and amino acids or vitamins and omega fatty acids
  6. Immune system dysfunction, where it overreacts and attacks the body’s tissues. This especially happens in dogs that are on kibble and processed food. 
  7. When it is suppressed by steroids.

Now that you know all this, you may see more clearly why using drugs such as NSAIDs from Aspirin and even stronger arthritic drugs for dogs only masks the problem as opposed to addressing it. 

I hear some people say they need to give their dogs something because he or she is in pain. I agree, but that something is not drugs. They may make a difference in the short term, but they lead to more damage, weakness, kidney damage, liver disease and eventually a shortened lifespan in the long term.

At the time of writing this article, my dog Skai was 15.5 years old. Yes, he too had had a few injuries and his back was not perfect, but seeing how much difference a raw diet, all-natural supplements and targeted exercise makes, I know I made the best decision for him.


At the beginning of this article I talked about inflammation. When it comes to joints, diet and injuries are huge factors. Grain and wheat, in particular, causes excessive immune stimulation that leads to inflammation. Meat high in arachidonic acid, such as large-animal red meat, is also inflammatory. 

But there is one more thing that I see many dog lovers missing. The most important parts of the muscular-skeletal system of a dog are muscles, bones, nerves, tendons, fascia and joints.

When one area of the body is overworked, let’s say the quadricep muscle, it disengages and other muscles around try to take over. Unfortunately, this leads to more muscle fatigue and causes your dog’s fitness level and strength to spiral down. 

This weakness will put more stress on joints due to less stability, which will cause trauma and inflammation of the joint, or arthritis. Injuries also lead to this pattern. 


So what can you do to protect your dog from the damaging effects of arthritis? There is much you can do.

  1. Avoid drugs and do not let anyone tell you that they are your only option. My dog is 15.5-years-old and he is doing much better without drugs than the dogs on NSAID’s if they are still alive.
  2. Give your dog a high-quality omega rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Research has confirmed high-quality omega oil is as effective as NSAID’s, but without the side-effects. They are also less expensive.
  3. Switch to a raw diet - if you do not know how, you can register for a free raw diet course.
  4. Ensure that your dog is at his/her ideal weight. Underweight dogs usually suffer from muscle weakness and joint instability. On the other hand, overweight dogs suffer from excessive stress on the joints and connective tissues. They can also suffer from muscle and core weakness. If you want to know how much food to feed your dog, find out here
  5. Ensure your dog is not toxic and nutrient deficient by running a HairQ test.
  6. Embrace an exercise plan to strengthen your dog’s body. Especially the core muscles. You can register for a course taught by my colleague Dr. Megan Kelly here
  7. Avoid intense activities, such as too much ball retrieving, jumping and twisting. Instead, do what dogs would do in nature. Roam, hike or jog. Dogs sprint only a few times per day, but they do not chase a rabbit (the ball) every 30 seconds for a half an hour. Read more on this here
  8. Ensure that your dog’s body has all the nutrient building blocks and read what others have to say about the all-natural supplements for dogs I use for Skai and my patients.



I can imagine you are asking, why didn’t I mention any joint supplements? You see, the challenge is, based on what I’ve tried, I have not seen a product I am excited about for my patients and Skai. Some have preservatives and chemicals I don’t like, others are “glued-in pills” or their ingredients can’t be traced. 

What I have learned is the addition of turmeric and Perna Mussel (Green-lipped mussel) show some promising results. 

I have also been observing the current trend of using golden paste made of turmeric and coconut oil, but for now I have chosen not to use it with Skai. While turmeric is good to give in small doses and we have it in our all-natural multivitamin for dogs, SoulFood, I feel that large amounts of turmeric act in the same anti-inflammatory suppressive pathway as NSAID’s.

All I can promise is I will work very hard to come up with a formula that will address all the components of joint building and healthy inflammatory/healing response soon. You can join our community for updates here.

The main point today is to remember the seven-step plan for arthritis and also that arthritis is a part of life. All we need to do is to keep our dogs strong, equip ourselves with solid knowledge and throw NSAID’s in the garbage. 

I did not use them for Skai.

If you are worried about your dog and think that they may be in pain, don't miss the interview in the link below with Dr. Edward Bassingthwaite.  

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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