Practically every chronic (long-term or recurring) health problem in dogs is related to inflammation in one way or another. And yet, inflammation is supposed to be a good thing.
In fact, inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, infection, or an allergen. It is a normal, common physical response that occurs in humans and animals alike, although it can be very uncomfortable or painful.
So, why does inflammation, which literally means to set on fire, cause such serious problems? For starters, inflammation starts to cause problems when it continues for too long or starts to attack healthy parts of the body. In fact, many serious diseases such as cancer and various autoimmune diseases are linked to out-of-control inflammation.
The exact causes of chronic inflammation are still not well understood. However, we know that the body of a human or animal is a finely-tuned miracle of nature that requires a state of balance and homeostasis to stay healthy.
When there’s no OFF switch to tell the body to return to the normal resting state after an inflammatory response, then you have a big problem. Thankfully, there are so many natural treatments for inflammation that you don’t need to give your pets NSAIDs or any other harmful medication.
Inflammation is nature’s way of healing the body when an injury or illness happens. This immune response is marked by five signs:
- Redness – caused by increased blood flow into the affected area
- Heat – also occurs due to increased blood flow
- Pain – caused by the release of certain chemicals used to repair and heal the body
- Swelling –happens due to fluid accumulation when blood vessels dilate and become leaky
- Reduced or complete loss of function – the result of the other four factors
This is called acute inflammation which typically occurs when there’s internal injury or damage, such as when your dog breaks a bone. Normally, the acute phase passes and the healing or repair phase takes place. Pretty soon the problem is resolved and the body switches off the inflammatory response.
However, in the case of chronic inflammation, the body keeps up the inflammatory response indefinitely. The cocktail of chemicals released, high numbers of white blood cells (the body’s “soldiers”), heat, and other conditions cause damage to healthy cells and tissue.
This is exactly what happens in arthritis. The inflammatory response destroys the smooth cartilage that lines bones at the joints, causing painful bone-on-bone contact.
Other times, the inflammation spreads throughout the body and adopts a sneaky, low-level, more far more dangerous form. It stresses cells and tissues throughout the body and can even damage DNA. This in turn can cause premature aging, increase the risk of cancer and heart disease, and cause all kinds of serious problems.
The names of most diseases and conditions that are caused by inflammation end with -itis. Although most of these are caused by an injury (physical, thermal, or chemical) or an infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal), chronic inflammation can also occur when there is no invasion. For example, stress and anxiety can trigger an episode of acute inflammation.
Some of the most common diseases related to inflammation include:
- Arthritis – inflammation of the joints, which causes pain and stiffness. Include
- Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease
- Joint instability, such as hip dysplasia or CCL rupture
- Joint incongruity, such as elbow dysplasia
- Septic arthritis caused by an infection
- Arthritis resulting from trauma
- Dermatitis – inflammation of the skin due to allergies, infections, illness, and more
- Contact dermatitis from touching allergens, such as irritants and poisonous plants
- Atopic dermatitis, usually indicated by constant itching, redness, and lesions on the skin
- Parasitic dermatitis, which is usually a result of a reaction to parasites like fleas and mites
- Yeast dermatitis, which is one of the most common problems in dogs with signs such as foul odor, scaly skin, and hair falling off in patches
- Enteritis – inflammation of the small intestines due to inflammation, parasites, or allergies; usually difficult to diagnose and treat
- Otitis or ear infection – can be internal or external and is very common in dogs
- Steatitis – inflammation in the fatty tissues, with symptoms like lumps under the skin
- Eye inflammation – can occur due to a variety of reasons, including allergy, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, foreign objects, or uveitis
- Peritonitis – a serious condition in which the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity becomes inflamed due to disease or injury; the most common symptom is abdominal pain, and the animal will try to take unusual positions to try and find relief
- Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas, which often occurs in recurrent episodes of acute attacks during which the animal may take a “praying” position, with the rear lifted up and front legs and head bowed onto the floor; the condition can be life-threatening
- Colitis – inflammation of the colon (large intestine), with common symptoms such as frequent, loose, and watery diarrhoea usually with mucus or blood spots
- Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums and can spread to the tongue, inner lips, and the floor or roof of the mouth, in which case it’s called stomatitis
- Meningitis – Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord usually due to infection; can be fatal
There are many other diseases caused by inflammation. It’s important to talk to an expert if you suspect an inflammatory disease because many of them are serious. Most require careful diagnosis before treatment can begin.
How to Fight Chronic Inflammation Naturally
The good news is, once you have singled out the problem and the cause of inflammation, treatment is straightforward. There are many natural and homeopathic treatments that have proven effective over and over again when administered by an expert.
Colloidal silver is a natural anti inflammatory and very helpful to get the low lying pathogens causing some of this inflammation at bay. You’ll find that our flagship HighVibe Silver products help with inflammation of all kinds.
I’ll only go through the four main treatments since I’ve already covered some of them under natural pain relief for dogs.
Diet is the most important aspect of treating chronic inflammation. Many commercial food products for pets are full of gut irritants and lack the natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents the body needs to neutralize dangerous radicals.
A raw diet for pets has so many benefits for dogs it’s hard to list them all:
- Full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower inflammation
- Helps dogs and cats retain a healthy weight, since inflammation is closely linked with excess fat and obesity
- Allows the digestive system to stay healthy
- Reduces or eliminates allergies, which are direct triggers of chronic inflammation
- Improves immunity and balances immune function
- Prevents pancreatitis, which is most often caused by poor diet
Diet is one of the easiest and most important ways to avoid inflammation in dogs and cats, and also one of the easiest ways to deal with the problem when it occurs.
Avoid Allergens and Toxins
Environmental allergens and toxins are major causes and triggers of inflammation. They include pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals in artificial fragrances and hygiene products (like shampoos).
Sadly, medications like NSAIDs, antibacterial medication, and some vaccines, are also known to be harmful to the body. They wreak havoc on gut flora and throw the whole digestive and immune system out of balance, causing all kinds of serious problems.
Full-spectrum hemp extract (CBD) is one of the most powerful natural treatments we have for inflammation. It helps relieve pain and discomfort from inflammation, relaxes the animal to reduce stress, ramps up immunity, restores balance in the gut, and so much more.
Herbs and Supplements
In addition to CBD, there are countless other supplements that help reduce or prevent inflammation in the body. They include:
- Turmeric – works just as well, if not better, than some pharmaceuticals
- Echinacea – boosts immunity and has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds
- Licorice root – helps relieve different types of inflammation, especially those of the gut or joints
- Ginger – another powerful root packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, especially when treating gut inflammation, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain
- Yucca – contains saponins and other compounds that relieve inflammation, pain, and swelling
- Boswellia/Indian frankincense – works by preventing the production of inflammatory enzymes in the body and is often used to treat arthritis and manage joint pain
- Arnica – used externally to treat skin, muscle, and joint inflammation- Also can use homeopathic Arnica internally as well
Physical Therapy, Massage, and Acupuncture
When done by an expert, physical therapy can help relieve pain, build physical strength and flexibility, and maintain normal function.
Other homeopathic remedies such as massage and acupuncture also help to restore natural balance in the body and relieve pain, promoting natural healing and pain relief.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Inflammation is often accompanied by increased body heat. Applying heat or cold packs in specific areas can alleviate pain, relax muscles, promote blood flow, and ultimately promote healing.
Get Help From Experts
Inflammation is a tricky problem to treat, especially when you don’t know what remedies to use or how to use them. We’re happy to help pet parents everywhere by suggesting natural treatments you can use or by connecting you to trusted Certified Naturopaths and Holistic or Homeopathic vets. Please see our contact page for names of Naturopaths that offer paid consultations. For questions on our products etc. please use the online chat for quickest answers or browse our website for more information.