Features November 2016 Issue

Herbal Remedies for Your Dog's Arthritis Pain

Herbs can be used internally and externally, individually or in combination.

[Updated December 10, 2018]

Can adding herbs to your stiff old dog’s dinner help him run, jump, and play like a puppy? It might. Last month we reviewed causes, risk factors, and nutritional treatments for canine arthritis. This month we’ll explore medicinal herbs that bring relief to our best friends.

Plants were the original pharmacy for humans and animals, and over thousands of years, cultures around the world developed remedies that remain in use today. Herbal teas, tinctures, capsules, poultices, rinses, and massage oils are widely sold. American consumers spent nearly $7 billion on herbal products in 2015, which is $480 million more than we spent on them in 2014, marking the 12th consecutive year of growth. The medicinal herbs industry is thriving.

While it’s true that some herbs recommended for use with canine arthritis have drug-like actions, including contraindications and potentially adverse side effects, the plants mentioned here are easily acquired from reputable sources, widely used, and safe for most dogs. The descriptions that follow include safety notes as applicable. See the “Professional Resources and Quality Control” below for additional information.

Herbal Terms

Although culinary plants and leafy weeds come to mind when we think of herbs, in botanical medicine all plants are herbs and so are all of their parts, including leaves, stems, blossoms, bark, fruits, and seeds.

A simple is a single herb, and whole schools of herbal medicine use one herb at a time to treat a condition until it improves. In contrast, a blend is a combination of herbs – as few as two or as many as dozens. Traditional Chinese remedies often contain 20 or more different herbs. While some herbalists consider blends safer than single-herb formulas because they are less likely to cause adverse side effects, that theory has not been proven. If a blend contains a potentially toxic herb, its smaller quantity may be helpful, but it is not necessarily safer than a tea or other product containing a single well-tolerated herb.

A specific is any herb known for its effectiveness in the treatment of a condition, such as turmeric for arthritis pain. Specifics can be used alone, in which case they are simples, or combined with other herbs, where they act as the blend’s active ingredients.

A catalyst, stimulant, activator, carrier, or emissaryherb can be added to herbal blends to increase their effectiveness, usually by improving circulation and digestion, thus helping other ingredients reach their destination. Some catalyst herbs are used alone but most make up a small portion of an herbal recipe. Cayenne and ginger are examples of pain-relieving catalyst herbs that can be used as simples or in blends for the treatment of arthritis.

arthritic dog playing

Many owners find that herbal remedies can restore an older dog’s interest in playing and exercise, and postpone the need for conventional drugs for pain relief.

Herbs can be given continuously or they can be pulsed by interrupting treatment, such as five days on and two days off per week, or three weeks on and one week off per month. While this approach has not been scientifically tested, some herbalists theorize that the treatment is less likely to cause adverse side effects, allows the body to recover from treatment, and may improve the overall result.

Medicinal Terms

The medicinal properties of herbs have their own vocabulary, and terms most important to the treatment of arthritis include the following:

- Analgesics, also called anodynes, relieve pain. These can be used internally or externally, depending on the herb.

- Anti-inflammatory herbs inhibit the effect of chemicals that cause pain and inflammation in the body at injured areas.

- Antispasmodic herbs prevent or ease cramps and muscle spasms.

- Nervines calm and soothe the nerves, reducing tension and anxiety.

- Rubefacient herbs draw inflammation and congestion from deeper areas, increasing circulation and promoting warmth.

- Tonic herbs restore and strengthen the entire system, producing and restoring normal tone. They are usually well tolerated and safe to take daily for long periods. Most tonics have general positive effects on the entire body.

Canine Arthritis Research

Search the medical literature or the websites of educational organizations like the American Botanical Council, and you’ll see many studies examining the effect of medicinal plants on humans with arthritis. But while canine arthritis is a popular veterinary research topic, only a few canine studies have examined plant-based therapies.

A 2004 study of 29 dogs with degenerative osteoarthritis conducted in Switzerland (“Dietary support with Boswellia resin in canine inflammatory joint and spinal disease” by J. Reichling, et al, Schweizer Archiv Fur Tierheilkunde) showed that boswellia extract significantly reduced symptoms and increased mobility in more than 70 percent of the canine patients.

In “A medicinal herb-based natural health product improves the condition of a canine natural osteoarthritis model: A randomized placebo-controlled trial” published in Research in Veterinary Science in 2014, scientists at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine worked with 32 dogs weighing more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds), all of whom had been diagnosed with arthritis by X-ray and orthopedic exam.

The researchers developed their own combinations of medicinal herbs. Their first formula contained devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata), black currant (Ribes nigrum), white willow (Salix alba), and feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), plus small amounts of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids). The second formula contained smaller amounts of the first two herbs, along with the same amount of black currant and the omega-3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish), added bromelain (Ananas comosus) and curcumin (Curcuma longa), plus glucosamine sulfate, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), chondroitin sulfate, l-glutamine, and hyaluronic acid.

Half of the dogs received the first formula for four weeks and the second formula for another four weeks. The other half, acting as the control, received a placebo. To determine results, the dogs were filmed as they walked at a consistent speed over a special platform that captured the strength of each paw; a special electronic collar recorded their daily activities; and owners were asked to provide their own evaluations.

As head researcher Maxim Moreau reported, “After the eight-week course, on average, the strength of the dogs receiving treatment had improved to the equivalent of a kilo of extra strength per paw . . . . None of these dogs saw their health decline, unlike 35.8 percent of the dogs who were given the placebo.” In addition, the placebo dogs became less physically active while the treated dogs became significantly more active.

pet supplement aisle

Compared to conventional pain-relieving drugs, herbal remedies are inexpensive and easy to find in any number of forms at your local health-food store.

Helpful Herbs for Arthritic Dogs

Study the labels for products intended to relieve athritis symptoms in dogs (and humans) and you’ll see the following herbs, all of which are widely used for arthritis pain relief and considered safe for dogs.

Note that some herbs inhibit COX-2 enzymes, which promote pain, swelling, and inflammation. Herbal COX-2 inhibitors block those enzymes, as do many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Herbs containing COX-2 inhibitors or compounds related to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) should not be taken together or in combination with COX-2 inhibitor drugs, aspirin, or other NSAIDs.

Arnica (Arnica montana)

A small alpine plant with yellow blossoms. The flower heads, made into tea, tincture, or massage oil, are anti-inflammatory and relieve the pain of bruises, sprains, arthritis, and inflammation. Arnica is used externally.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

A large tree native to India, is a potent anti-inflammatory that effectively shrinks inflamed tissue by improving circulation and increasing synovial fluid viscosity. Boswellia may help alleviate pain and improve range of motion within a week of daily use, and may slow the progression of cartilage damage. A bitter herb, boswellia is usually taken in capsules.

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa)

Describes both hemp and marijuana. As WDJ contributor Mary Straus wrote in “Dogs Going to Pot?” (April 2013), marijuana can be either harmful or beneficial to dogs, depending on dosage. The plant contains more than 60 chemicals called cannabinoids, the most important of which are cannabidiol (CBD), which has therapeutic properties, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive but may provide additional benefits when small amounts are combined with CBD.

“Unfortunately,” wrote Straus, “because of the politics surrounding the use of medical marijuana, there is no reliable information about what dosage of marijuana is safe and effective for pets. This problem is further complicated by the wide variety of products, including flower buds, oils, tinctures, and other extracts, as well as the variation in strengths for each of these based on the strain of marijuana grown, the timing of the harvest, and the preparation of the medical product. Concentrated forms in particular can cause toxicity to dogs even in small amounts.”

Given its very low THC content, hemp is not considered intoxicating. Instead, its cannabinoids are known for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic properties. Hemp capsules, oils, and other products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp are sold throughout the U.S. for human and canine use without restriction.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)

2016’s official Herb of the Year (see “Cayenne for Canines,” WDJ May 2016). Its active ingredient, capsaicin, makes cayenne a contact rubefacient, which means that it increases circulation to sore joints and painful areas when applied topically. Capsaicin also acts as a nerve block, reducing pain. Cayenne is an important stimulant or catalyst herb that can be added in small amounts to blends, improving their effectiveness, or added to food or given in capsules.

Cayenne is a member of the nightshade family, and while most dogs appear not to be adversely affected by nightshades, some may be sensitive. If cayenne seems to worsen your dog’s arthritis symptoms, try avoiding not only cayenne but its nightshade cousins tomato, potato, eggplant, paprika and other peppers, tobacco, and the medicinal herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, Anthemia nobilis)

One of the world’s most widely used herbs. This nervine, tonic, antispasmodic plant soothes mind and body, relaxes the nerves, and relieves muscle cramps. Chamomile can be safely added to food or applied topically to dogs of all ages unless they are allergic to plants in the aster family (rare among dogs).

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

The most significant plant source of the cell-growth stimulator allantoin, which speeds the healing of wounds and even broken bones (comfrey’s common name is “knit bone”).

This tonic, anti-inflammatory herb is no longer recommended for internal use because its pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) may cause liver toxicity, but comfrey tea can be safely applied as a rinse or poultice to inflamed joints or sore spines. Alcohol-based comfrey tincture can be applied to sore joints, injuries, muscle strains, and other painful areas.

Devil’s Claw Root (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Native to South Africa, has anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates the lymph system, and is a detoxifying herb for the entire body. Devil’s claw is usually taken in capsules. Unfortunately, overharvesting and adulteration have made much of the devil’s claw sold in the U.S. of little value. To give devil’s claw products a fair trial, look for sustainable sources. This herb contains COX-2 enzyme inhibitors.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

A bitter-tasting green plant with daisy-like blossoms, remained an obscure herb until its ability to prevent migraine headaches put it back into home gardens and natural food markets. Because so many arthritis patients report that feverfew’s positive effects continue after they stop taking the herb, it appears to do more than temporarily alleviate symptoms. It’s usually taken in capsules.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

A familiar spice in cooking and baking, is stimulating, warming, and anti-inflammatory. Ginger helps improve circulation and digestion, and it is often added to blends as a catalyst or stimulant herb.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

A good source of the trace mineral silicon, which plays an important role in bone formation and bone and connective tissue health. Horsetail’s effectiveness may result from its ability to boost silicon levels, which naturally decline with age. Taking this herb internally improves the skin, coat, nails, and joints; applying it externally as a soak, compress, or rinse speeds the results.

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce joint pain and other arthritis symptoms while improving digestion and respiratory function. In small amounts, licorice root has no adverse side effects, but in large quantities or with daily use it can contribute to hypertension, edema, and hormone imbalances. Products labeled “deglycyrrhizinated licorice” or “DGL” have had the problematic substance removed, though some of the herb’s benefits are removed along with it.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

A perennial herb with anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, rubefacient, and analgesic actions. Its leaves, root, rhizomes, and flowers contain volatile oils whose compounds may be oxidized into salicylic acid, which, when metabolized in the gut, act like an herbal aspirin. In fact, the name aspirin is derived from Spiraea, meadowsweet’s old botanical name. This product should not be combined with NSAIDs.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

While best known as an herb for the respiratory system, has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)

A mild sedative, antispasmodic, and pain reliever traditionally used to treat insomnia, nervous anxiety, and pain. It has a relaxing influence and can help relieve discomfort.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

The popular seasoning herb, has traditionally been used to improve memory, relieve muscle pain and spasm, and support the circulatory and nervous systems. Applied topically, rosemary can be used to treat muscle pain and arthritis and improve circulation. Important note: While most dogs respond well to rosemary, which is widely used as a food preservative (including in pet foods), rosemary extract has triggered seizures in some dogs. Avoid this herb if your dog has a history of seizures. If your dog suffers a seizure after consuming rosemary or a food containing rosemary extract, switch to other products.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Has long been used to relieve the pain and discomfort of inflammation in addition to reducing or alleviating anxiety. Skullcap’s active ingredient, scutellarin, is a flavonoid compound shown to have sedative and antispasmodic properties.

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Does more than flavor Italian food! Its anti-inflammatory effects make this a popular herb for arthritis, joint pain, and sore muscles. Like other culinary/medicinal herbs, it can be taken internally or applied topically. In addition to improving arthritis symptoms, marjoram is a relaxing nerve tonic that helps relieve nervous tension and stress-related symptoms.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2 inhibitors. By itself, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory that can reduce arthritis symptoms. In human studies, turmeric extracts containing at least 20 percent curcuminoids are comparable in their effects to the drug ibuprofen. Combining turmeric with bromelain (the pineapple enzyme) provides even more impressive results.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian's distinctive fragrance has been compared to old sweat socks, is one of the most effective nerve tonics available.

White Willow Bark (Salix alba, Salix spp.)

Contains salicin, a chemical similar to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). In combination with white willow’s anti-inflammatory flavonoids, salicin is thought to be responsible for the plant’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. This product should not be combined with NSAIDs.

Yucca (Yucca schidigera, Yucca spp.)

Contains saponins, soap-like chemicals that reduce pain, joint swelling, and stiffness. Yucca is a popular ingredient in animal feeds because it reduces unpleasant odors in urine and feces. It should not be used in large doses for extended periods because it can irritate the stomach lining and cause vomiting.

For best results, use products recommended for dogs, follow label directions, and instead of giving it every day, consider a two-day break from yucca every week and a week-long break every one or two months.

Chinese Herbs for Arthritic Dogs

Conventional Western medicine typically uses symptom-suppressing drugs and therapies to relieve pain. Traditional Chinese medicine takes a different approach, examining the ways in which Chi or Qi (pronounced “chee”), the body’s life energy, might be slowed or obstructed.

Some traditional Chinese herbs used in arthritis remedies, such as stephania root (Stephania tetrandra or han fang chi), have been removed from formulas because they contain aristolochic acid, which can (rarely) cause renal damage.

Fortunately, most traditional Chinese blends contain herbs that are well tolerated, especially in small amounts. Chinese therapeutic categories include “vitalizing the blood,” “resolving hidden phlegm,” and “removing obstacles to the flow of chi” through the body’s meridians or energy channels. Formulas may contain warming herbs, herbs that support the kidneys or blood, or herbs that dispel dampness.

Key herbs used in Chinese blends for the treatment of arthritis include epimedium (Epimedium grandiflorum), rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), peony (Paeonia lactiflora), white mustard (Sinapis alba), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), angelica (Angelica archangelica), mulberry (Morus nigra), frankincense (Boswellia sacra), cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and ligusticum (Ligusticum porteri).

For best results, use Chinese herbal formulas that are manufactured in the United States or which have been tested for purity and label accuracy. Many herbal products imported from China contain dangerous ingredients or are incorrectly labeled.

Commercial Products

animal essentials joint support supplement

Most pet-supply stores and natural-food markets sell a variety of herbal products, and so do online retailers. Check with manufacturers regarding their guarantees of purity and label accuracy.

To discover which products work best for your dog, follow label directions and complete one course of treatment (typically four to six weeks) before starting another. Make notes about your dog’s arthritis symptoms (such as his willingness or ability to get in the car or jump up on the couch, or how long it takes him to get on his feet after a nap) in your dog’s health journal before beginning any new remedy, and again at weekly intervals. Another good way to track the effectiveness of a new product is to take video of your dog walking, turning, or playing before and after a course of treatment.

If your dog is taking prescription drugs, be sure to discuss herbal products with your veterinarian before adding them to your pet’s medications.

The following are some of the leading herbal blends for relieving canine arthritis symptoms:

? Alenza Chewable Tablets, combine Boswellia serrata with a proprietary blend of bioflavonoids to help active and aging dogs manage discomfort, recover from stress or injury, and speed the rehabilitation process. Scored tablets can be given during or after meals or crumbled into food.

? Animal Essentials Joint Support (formerly Alfalfa/Yucca Blend) is an alcohol-free vegetable glycerin tincture containing certified organic alfalfa, yucca root, burdock root, and licorice root. The sweet-tasting glycerite can be squirted directly into a dog’s mouth from the measured dropper or added to food twice daily.

? Arnica tincture, an alcohol extract of Arnica montana, is made by several herbal product companies for topical application and is widely available, though you’ll find the largest selection online. Arnica tincture is usually effective for acute pain, especially if it is applied topically over the area that hurts as soon as symptoms develop.

? Hemp products from Canna-Pet, Bluebird Botanicals, Vet CBD, Dixie Botanicals, and Healthy Hemp Pet Company are designed for pet use. Hemp’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids help relieve pain, swelling, and other arthritis symptoms in dogs.

? The Australian remedy DGP (Dog Gone Pain) contains marine collagen extract, boswellia, corydalis root, wheatgrass, turmeric, feverfew, celery seed, and a proprietary blend of wild rosella, capsicum, aniseed, mountain pepper, and other ingredients along with the enzymes bromelain and papain.

? Dr. Christopher’s Complete Tissue and Bone Formula is a dry herb blend containing white oak bark, comfrey root, marshmallow root, mullein leaf, black walnut leaf, gravel root, wormwood, lobelia, and skullcap. It’s named for the late Dr. John Christopher and is available from Dr. Christopher’s Herb Shop.

I like to simmer four rounded teaspoons of the dry blend in a covered quart of water for up to an hour, then let the tea cool to room temperature before straining it into a glass jar and refrigerating. Because of its comfrey and wormwood content, this tea is not recommended for internal use. It can be gently rubbed into the skin around sore joints, poured over the neck, spine, or other affected joints as a rinse, or applied as a compress where needed. Apply frequently, two or three times a day, for best results. Refrigerated tea keeps for about a week.

? HerbAprin (formerly Herbal Aspirin) from Glacier Peak Holistics provides a proprietary blend of white willow, feverfew, skullcap, valerian, chamomile, rosemary, passion flower, and cayenne for dogs. It is available in tincture, powder, and capsule form.

Note that HerbAprin contains white willow, which should not be combined with COX-2 Inhibitors or NSAIDs. It also contains rosemary, which is not recommended for dogs with seizure disorders.

? Muscle and Joint Support from Pet Alive contains devil’s claw, spirulina, lecithin, and glucosamine sulfate.

Ways to Administer Herbs to Your Dog

Tea is the most basic herbal preparation, and for dogs with arthritis, a properly brewed, room-temperature tea applied as a rinse or simply massaged into the skin can make a difference, as can small amounts of tea added to the dog’s food.

To brew an infusion or tisane (an herbal tea made from leaves or blossoms), add 1 teaspoon dried herb or 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herb to a cup of water. Start with cold water and heat it to the boiling point in a covered pan before removing it from the heat, or pour boiling water over loose herbs, cover, and let steep. The longer it brews, the stronger and more medicinal the tea. For best results, use a stainless steel, glass, or enameled pan with a tight-fitting lid and leave your tea undisturbed until it cools to room temperature, then strain and use. Tea can be strained through cheesecloth, a kitchen towel, or a wire mesh strainer.

To brew a decoction (a simmered tea made from roots, bark, or seeds), start with cold water and chopped or cut dried or fresh herbs in the same proportions as for an infusion. In a covered pan, bring the tea to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or longer. Remove the pan from heat and let the tea continue to steep with the lid on until cool. Unlike leaves and blossoms, roots, bark, and seeds can be reused, usually three to four times. As flavor and color decrease with use, extend the brewing time or replenish herbs by adding small amounts of new material.

Tinctures are liquid extracts, usually made with alcohol or vegetable glycerin. Alcohol is the most widely used tincture solvent because it extracts more constituents and preserves them longer than anything else. While a large dog may safely take an alcohol tincture with food, puppies and small breeds should have minimal exposure to alcohol. Fortunately, well-made tinctures are so concentrated that just a few drops contain a therapeutic dose. Some manufacturers offer tinctures from which the alcohol has been removed, or you can use glycerites, which are made with vegetable glycerin. Alcohol tinctures, because they are highly concentrated, can be applied topically to arthritic joints, strained muscles, or other painful areas.

Capsules are convenient because most dogs find them easy to swallow when hidden in food or treats. Encapsulated herbal blends have become popular arthritis treatments for canines and humans.

Poultices are wet herbal packs applied directly to an inflamed, irritated, swollen, infected, or injured part of the body. They are made of fresh mashed herbs or the residue left after brewing tea, and are usually applied cool rather than hot. Use whatever will hold the poultice in place for as long as possible, such as Vetwrap, elastic bandages, plastic wrap, cheesecloth, muslin, or cotton fabric. A layer of plastic over the poultice helps prevent stains on rugs or furniture. Alternatively, fold the plant material into layered gauze or fabric and hold it in place by hand.

A compress is a towel or thick cloth saturated with cold or room-temperature herbal tea and held in place for five or 10 minutes. A fomentation is a hot or warm compress. One or the other may bring relief to a sore spine or joint.

Washes and rinses are just what they sound like. Any beverage- or medicinal-strength tea can be used by itself or as a final rinse after shampooing. For a dog with arthritis, soaking the coat to the skin and gently massaging tea into the neck, spine, or joints can be therapeutic.

Store dried herbs and herbal products away from heat, light, and humidity – in other words, not in the kitchen or bathroom – and tightly sealed. Most herbal tinctures and capsules come in protective packaging such as dark blue or brown bottles.

Where to Start Looking for an Arthritis Remedy

There are so many arthritis remedies available; how should you decide which to try first? And, once you start a supplement, how can you tell whether it’s helping? Individuals respond differently; what works for your friend’s dog might have no effect on yours, and vice versa. Even without treatment, a dog’s symptoms can change from day to day, making it hard to measure improvement.

You have to start somewhere, so it’s worth trying a remedy that helped a dog you know, that was recommended by someone whose opinion you respect, or that for other reasons looks promising.

We suggest experimenting with one remedy at a time, following label directions for a “course” of treatment, which is typically four to six weeks, or until the package is empty. Of course, if the dog has an adverse reaction or seems worse, discontinue that product and try something else.

Is your dog better? The best way to determine that is with an objective measurement of some kind. For example, can she no longer jump onto the sofa or your car’s back seat, climb up and down stairs, or play with friends? If she resumes those activities while on a supplement, it’s probably working.

Mary Straus spent years working with her dog Piglet’s arthritis. “I was always trying something new,” she says. “If I thought I saw improvement, I added it to the regimen. If I didn’t see any change, I stopped giving it after I ran out. That gave me another chance to see if it was helping, because if the product was effective, the dog could get worse after stopping.”

Professional Resources and Quality Control

How can you be sure that an herbal remedy will be safe and appropriate for your dog? While there is no standardized certification in the United States for herbalists who create pet products, they are represented by professional organizations, as are veterinarians who use medicinal herbs.

The American Herbalists Guild, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and Veterinary Botanical Medical Association, maintain professional standards and list members with their qualifications.

The American Botanical Council is an important educational resource that promotes good manufacturing practices (GMP) and monitors the quality of plant-based medicines sold in the United States. The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), an industry trade association of suppliers, manufacturers, and marketers of dietary ingredients and supplements for pets, has endorsed the Botanical Adulterants Program, which is a coalition of the American Botanical Council, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR).

You can ask manufacturers for information about the sources, quality, and testing of their ingredients; asking them about any professional affiliations they have with the above organizations is another good idea.

It’s ideal if you can consult an experienced holistic veterinarian and/or herbalist in person. But if you can’t, see the following books for in-depth guidelines on using herbal remedies for your dog:

- Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life by Mary L. Wulff and Greg L. Tilford (2nd Edition, Lumina Media; 2009)

- Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by CJ Puotinen (McGraw-Hill, 2000)

herbal arthritis treatment for dogs

In the next issue, we’ll discuss essential oils and aromatherapy products that can help a dog with arthritis.

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