Older animals quite often get affected by arthritis. Like in humans, it is a painful illness and, unfortunately, no cure exists yet. However, there are many natural remedies or treatments that can significantly help our friends and can work alongside traditional veterinary medicine. It is wise to consult your vet for a definite diagnostic and make sure that the natural remedies you use do not interfere with whatever your vet has prescribed. The following treatments can be used with horses and dogs. I do not recommend to use aromatherapy (essential oils) on cats as it can be fatal. You can replace essential oils with hydrolats or floral water. It is important to remember that your horse (or other pet) is an individual and may not take too kindly to some treatments, and be just fine with others. Treat them accordingly.
Aromatherapy and Clay
You can make poultices with French green clay and add few drops of essential oils to reduce swelling, detoxify the body (toxins build up in joints), reduce inflammation, improve circulation and reduce the pain. Make a thick clay paste by adding water and then the essential oils. Do not prepare in advance. Apply a thick paste on the affected joints and leave it for 20 minutes. Rinse it off. For cats, do not add any essential oils. Instead, you can replace the water with floral water from any of the essential oils below. Essential oils that can be used for arthritis are:
- juniper, cypress, lemon and fennel: to detoxify the body and reduce swelling
- chamomile, lavender and rosemary: painkillers
- ginger, black pepper, marjoram: to encourage circulation
- white camphor, white birch: anti-inflammatory, Be very cautious with these oils.
Any of these oils can also be made into a massage oil with carrier oils like cold pressed olive oil and flaxseed oil. Apply once or twice a day. Do not use these essential oils with pregnant animals or those with heart and blood pressure conditions.
The most commonly used remedy for arthritis is Rhus Tox, in 30c potency. The typical symptoms for this remedy is that the animal kind of limbers up when getting up or after a rest. It ameliorates after few steps. Ruta Grav., although normally used for muscular aches, can be used but here the animal is better when resting and gets worse with movements. These 2 remedies combined with Arnica 30c may provide some relief and help with the condition. Homeopathic remedies are dispensed as follows: For a mature horse, 6 to 10 drops in 120 ml water, syringe 5 ml of the mix and syringe it in the mouth, free of food. Repeat daily for a week. For youngsters and older animals, only 2 drops in 120 ml of water.
Devil’s Claw is the 1st choice of herbs to relieve pain. Give 1 tablespoon a day to a mature 500 kg horse. It is well known as the natural “Bute” and for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ice packs on the joints may also help relieving the pain and get the swelling down. Some gentle walking exercises may help with the condition. If your horse is confined in his stall, make sure the ground is soft and cushy, and the environment is not damp. Dogs should be provided with a bedding that is not at floor level. They should never be allowed to sleep on concrete or tiles as it will make the condition worse. In autumn and winter, the older animals will benefit from a rug or warm blankets. And of course, lots of love!