What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word inflammation?
Pain? Discomfort? Old age?
It’s funny, this term, “inflammation” has been thrown around a lot in regard to both humans and pets. More often than not, it’s coupled with unwanted and negative symptoms. Not all inflammation is bad, however.
For instance, say you’re out hiking with your canine friend and they suddenly pull their leg or cut their paw.
In order for your dog to heal properly, their body would need to produce just the right amount of inflammation to begin the recovery process. So in truth, inflammation is a normal and healthy defense against injury.
However, inflammaging is a completely different story… and one that pet owners need to be aware of.
What Do We Mean by “Inflammaging?”
Have you ever asked yourself, “why do dogs age faster than humans?”
If the answer was yes, you’re not alone. As it turns out, this same question has had scientists and veterinarians scratching their heads for decades. Luckily, their curiosity has led to a few studies, some of which are currently underway.
Here’s what we know so far…
Chronic inflammation has been linked to premature aging in our dogs, which scientists now refer to as “inflammaging.” Given the fact that so many pet owners are interested in increasing their dogs' longevity, this research is pretty groundbreaking.
But inflammaging isn’t the only thing that could be robbing years from your dog. Their metabolism, epigenetics, stem cell regeneration, and biological make-up all affect how quickly they will age.
That said, there’s one factor we pet owners have more control over than we think… and that’s inflammation.
As we mentioned earlier, not all inflammation is bad. In fact, a healthy dog will produce acute inflammation when addressing injuries, infections, and toxins that enter the body.
Acute inflammation typically lasts a few hours to no more than a few days. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is what we need to look out for.
Understanding Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation lingers for months, even years. Not only will it prevent your dog from healing properly, but it can keep their body in a state of constant alert.
What’s most alarming about chronic inflammation is that it usually has a negative impact on your dog's cells, tissues, and most of all, organs. In fact, research suggests that prolonged inflammation is indeed a contributor to most, if not all, diseases.
Pretty scary, right?
Now, we know it’s inevitable for our dogs to age, but inflammaging is not a normal part of their aging process. Signs of inflammaging in your dog may include:
- Immune decline
- Cognitive decline
- Heart disease
While it’s still unclear what actually causes inflammaging, scientists do have a few theories…
What Causes Inflammaging in Dogs?
The first and most common cause of inflammaging is stress.
Being in a constant state of stress can actually weaken your dog’s immune system, especially if your dog is already approaching their senior years. If their stress persists for a prolonged period of time, oxidative stress will inevitably set in. This will cause an imbalance between the production of their free radicals and their body’s ability to detoxify those cells.
The more free radicals there are floating around in your dog's body, the more damage is done to their protein cells, fatty tissue, and overall DNA.
Scientists have also found that high levels of proinflammatory cytokines (cells that favor inflammation) and Telomere shortening (DNA damage) contribute to inflammaging.
Other theories of what causes inflammaging in your dog include:
- Excess weight gain
- Lack of exercise
- Chemical exposure
- Poor diet or inflammatory foods
Thankfully, the awareness of inflammaging has pet owners around the world adopting more natural ways of combatting it, which in turn is slowing down their dogs' aging process and restoring their health.
So, what are these natural approaches to help with your dog’s inflammaging?
Let’s take a look…
7 Natural Anti-Inflammatories for Dogs
Turmeric is known as an herbal anti-inflammatory for dogs, and for good reason.
As it turns out, multiple studies have shown that the active ingredients in turmeric (curcumin), has great potential in addressing many inflammatory diseases.
It’s also been shown that curcumin may be able to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and resolve cellular waste buildup.
Polyphenols are little compounds found in plant-based foods that provide high levels of antioxidants and boost brain and digestive health.
Blueberries, apples, spinach, olive oil, and turmeric are all examples of polyphenols that are safe for dogs to eat.
According to research, foods rich in polyphenols are also rich in antioxidants, which are known to reduce inflammation as well as DNA and organ damage.
An unbalanced diet lacking these essential nutrients could influence possible risk factors for metabolic and degenerative diseases.
3. Probiotics / Prebiotics
Our dogs' digestive microbiome, or gut bacteria, plays a huge role in their metabolism and overall health.
If there’s an imbalance in their microbiome, then dysbiosis (intestinal inflammation) and increased intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”: damage to your dog’s gut lining allowing food particles, bacteria, and other toxins to leak into their bloodstream) can set in.
Studies show that probiotics help colonize and reintroduce live bacteria into your dog's gut. This helps reduce inflammation, increase microbiome diversity, and restore balance to their digestive system.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which can also reduce inflammation and promote better gut health.
4. Essential Omega Fatty Acids
There is a delicate balance between omega 6 and omega 3 fats. Research suggests that too little of either could cause adverse effects on our dogs' health.
When there is a balance between omega 6 and 3 in your dog's diet, inflammation can be kept under control. Chicken and animal fats are great and healthy sources of omega 6, whereas organic fish oil is a great natural source of omega 3.
5. Exercise and Weight Management
According to the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA Hospitals), “being overweight or obese sets the stage for joint damage and osteoarthritis (OA), leading to chronic pain”. What’s most interesting is that fat tissue actually secretes hormones and other biological chemicals that can either enhance or cause inflammation.
In this way, fat is actually one of the key natural inflammatories for dogs.
So, maintaining your dog's healthy weight through exercise, dog’s food portion control, and an overall healthy diet can help to prevent joint inflammation and pain in the long run.
6. Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are considered holistic anti-inflammatories for dogs.
They’re often recommended and prescribed by veterinarians as an alternative to treating joint health problems, like osteoarthritis in dogs who can’t tolerate NSAIDs or other pharmaceutical drugs.
In fact, there is one study that showed the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate had statistically significant reductions of pain and inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis.
7. CBD oil
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid that naturally exists within the hemp plant. Many pet owners believe that CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory for dogs, and here’s why…
Our dogs, like us, have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that helps maintain balance and homeostasis throughout their entire body. Unfortunately, poor diet, lack of exercise, injury, and stress can wreak havoc on their ECS, causing an endocannabinoid deficiency.
But according to some research, phytocannabinoids like CBD could help reintroduce balance into the ECS.
The jury is still out regarding these findings, but in one study, pet owners saw (and are still seeing) a significant difference in their dogs' mobility and overall health after giving their dogs CBD oil.
What’s more, full-spectrum CBD oil contains other vital hemp-derived nutrients like flavonoids, terpenes, amino acids, minerals, and more, that help reduce waste buildup. Just be sure to only purchase high-quality CBD pet products from reputable pet companies.
Natural Remedies for Inflammation in Dogs
The process of inflammaging is complicated, and unfortunately, some causes are still unknown.
Incorporating natural remedies like the ones listed above shows a lot of promise and can only promote better health in our canine friends. The more you can remove inflammatory triggers like stress, anxiety, and most of all, purchase high-quality dog food, the better off your dog will be in the long run.
If you have any questions or concerns or are looking for more home remedies for dog inflammation, feel free to reach out to the Lolahemp team. We’re happy to help in any way we can!