A Holistic Medicine Approach For Pain Relief In Aging Dogs

By Alberto Roy

Updated on:

Like humans, our canine companions experience health challenges and issues throughout their lifetimes. As our once vibrant best friends age, they may experience worsening health issues, most notably arthritic-related aches and pains.

This pain, often the result of inflammation around their joints, leads to discomfort that could affect their mood, sleep, and overall quality of life.

But like humans, dogs in the modern world have a variety of options ranging from traditional healthcare treatments like prescription medicines and surgery to alternative and holistic solutions.

Pain Relief In Aging Dogs

A holistic medicine approach has become quite popular among dog owners to treat pain and may include numerous natural remedies like plant-based herbs and hemp oils, nutrient supplementation, and therapeutic physical approaches like acupuncture.

For some dogs, one treatment option may work wonders, but in most cases, a well rounded treatment plan will be necessary, encompassing multiple alternative treatment remedies.

Here are some of the more popular complementary and alternative natural medicines for pain relief in aging dogs that you can discuss with your pet’s veterinarian.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 supplements are time-tested natural medicines used by humans and pets alike.

This nutrient is primarily sourced from fish oil, but cold-pressed hemp seed oils also contain Omega.

Studies in people and animals show that Omega-3’s possess anti-inflammatory properties that target joint pain and stiffness in dogs.

Moreover, taking Omega 3 supplements show effects that are so significant that users are often able to lower their intake of prescription anti-inflammatories (including dogs who take them).

Hemp Extracts

Hemp extracts like cannabidiol are novel compounds that are showing promise in dogs, cats, horses, and other animals.

Their mechanism of action suggests that these plant-based compounds interact with receptor sites in the central nervous system of canines and may help to reduce inflammation around aching joints, among other benefits.

A CBD dose calculator for dogs can help you determine how much cannabidiol to give to your pet to help reduce inflammation, pain symptoms, and to improve sleep.


Though well known as an natural anti-inflammatory medicine for humans, turmeric is often overlooked as a treatment option for dogs.

But turmeric has powerful properties that reduce inflammation and pain in dogs, as highlighted by scores of clinical studies over the last several decades.

It is most often available in powder form, but it may be difficult to give your dog a regular dose in this form.

Instead, try a supplement in pill form, chews, or mix it into your dog’s wet food to see if that provides an easier avenue for dosage.


Like turmeric, ginger is not an immediate go-to natural medicine for dog owners.

But it should be!

Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory action and has the added benefit of easing digestive issues that your aging dog may be experiencing. This includes digestive issues resulting from medication that your pet may be taking.

It can be sprinkled over your dog’s food in powdered form, taken in the form of a capsule, or offered in the form of a chew as part of their daily health and wellness dose.

Boswellia Serrata

You’ve probably never heard of Boswellia serrata, but it is definitely worth some research if your dog is experiencing pain from arthritis or other conditions.

This tree, native to Africa and India, has been used in Ayurvedic medicines for ages to treat ailments like pain and osteoarthritis in humans and has more recently been prescribed by natural medicines pet practitioners for joint pain and inflammation.

A recent clinical study showed that taking 20 milligrams of Boswellia per pound resulted in significant benefits for canines with local pain and intermittent lameness.


This natural medicine is one of the more popular over-the-counter supplements for dogs with arthritis. It is regularly recommended by veterinarians to help alleviate pain, especially after joint surgery.

It is believed by some medical professionals that glucosamine may provide some restorative benefits for cartilage, which is the spongy material found between joints. Cartilage in dogs experiences wear and tear over the years, and glucosamine can be used as an early intervention nutrient to help repair and prevent further damage.


Chondroitin is often taken in combination with glucosamine to provide additional maintenance and repair support for damaged cartilage.

It is recommended for dogs that experience joint or hip pain.

Chondroitin is regularly combined with glucosamine supplements in a single pill, but it is also found in pet foods for older dogs, so additional supplementation may not be necessary if your dog is already taking a daily dose.

PEMF Therapy

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, or PEMF, is a modern medical advancement used successfully to treat humans and dogs with painful inflammation.

PEMF sends magnetic pulses into target areas and works by directly affecting the magnetic and electric fields of your dog’s body. It is believed that these effects decrease the production of free radicals and stimulate regrowth in cells.

It is most often prescribed for bone breaks, arthritic conditions, increased circulation, and reduction of inflammation.

This therapy is more than likely available through your veterinarian, but home-based devices are also becoming commonplace.


You’ve heard of acupuncture and probably seen this therapy performed in pictures or video on humans, but did you know that this ancient natural remedy works for dogs, too?

While it may seem painful because acupuncture requires the insertion of needles into targeted pain points on your dog’s body, a professional can perform this therapy with minimal discomfort.

Acupuncture stimulates a number of beneficial opioid-like chemicals in your dog’s brain and spinal cord that can reduce pain sensitivity.

It is an excellent option for canines who are experiencing pain from cancer, arthritis and aging, injuries, and spinal cord conditions.

Acupuncture works best over consistent weekly sessions, especially when combined with other natural medicines.

A Holistic Approach to Pain Relief for Dogs

The idea behind a holistic approach to medicine is that no single medication, herb, vitamin, or therapy can do it all. Instead, holistic medicine uses a whole-body approach that targets not just the symptoms of a particular condition like arthritis but the underlying condition itself.

An older dog that is experiencing arthritis will likely have a number of other ailments and symptoms they’re going through. This may include pain, digestive issues, sleep problems, and even mood changes.

Taking a holistic approach will look at your dog’s entire body to provide relief.

Thus, you can take your dog to acupuncture therapy sessions to reduce pain in target areas, while also offering him or her a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to help maintain and potentially repair the cartilage between the joints where the pain originates.

Adding a daily dose of a hemp extract like cannabidiol may help to further ease their pain by reducing inflammation and relaxing their central nervous system for a better night’s sleep.

The result of this type of approach is the possibility of improvement in their joints, a reduction of the regular aches and pains they are experiencing, and a better mood because they’re starting to feel better each day.

This is just one example of how a combination of different alternative natural therapies may help to improve your pet’s life. Be sure to get regular vet checkups and speak with your veterinarian or alternative medicine pet professional to help you determine the best approach for your dog based on their specific ailments and symptoms.

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