Proper management of arthritis can reduce pain, functional limitations and related problems. Treatment and management of arthritis can include medication, physical therapy, weight loss and surgery. Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in new treatment options for osteoarthritis, both for humans and pets, especially dogs. The so-called nutraceuticals have become available because some patients cannot tolerate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Nutraceuticals have been described as naturally occurring, biologically effective nutritional supplements that can confer some degree of health benefit.
Studies show that Vitamin B6 is essential to joint health. It has been demonstrated that a deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is associated with degeneration of joint tissues. The B-complex of vitamins also support the liver as they help break down the toxins and deactivate hormones so they can be excreted. Furthermore, there is evidence that both vitamin Vitamin B12 and folic acid lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Why this occurs is not clear.
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Like the carotenoids, flavonoids are biological pigments that contribute the coloring of most fruits and flowers. They may slow the progress of osteoarthritis and help reverse the disease by:
- Helping collagen form a strong matrix
- Limiting damage of tissue by free radicals
- Decreasing inflammation
- Preserving collagen
- Helping injuries heal more rapidly
Food sources for flavonoids include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and seeds. Citrus, berries, onions, and green tea contain the highest concentration of these nutrients. Of course, most animals have no interest in these foods, but a good supplement should provide all the necessary flavonoids. As always, talk with your veterinarian before giving your pet flavonoids.
Healthy Oils That Decrease Inflammation
Although fats have a reputation for being unhealthy, certain oils, known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), can actually help the arthritic patient, both human and animal. Oils are fats that ae liquid at room temperature. Some oils are categorized as omega-6 fatty acids, and others are known as omega-3. These fatty acids are the raw material that make up prostaglandins (hormone-like molecules that can trigger inflammation in a variety of body tissues). The important thing to remember is that omega-6 fatty acids promote the formation of arachidonic acid, which eventually turns into a type of prostaglandins that can worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, arachidonic acid is also plentiful in beef, pork, lamb, turkey, and chicken. In addition, organ meats commonly used in pet foods, such as heart and kidney, have high levels of arachidonic acid.
The conscientious pet owner is now presented with a true quandery. How can you feed your pet the meat it needs to be healthy without making the symptoms of arthritis worse? Actually, this is where omega-3 fatty acids come to the rescue. You can counteract the effects of arachidonic acid by adding omega-3-rich flaxseed oil to the diet of whole grains, vegetables, and moderate amounts of fish and chicken. The omega-3 in the flaxseed oil can then reduce inflammation caused by arachidonic acid. Find out from your veterinarian what is the most appropriate level of flaxseed oil to add to your pet's diet.