What you need to know about your pets' inflammation
A year ago
Inflammation has a bad rap--but without it, we’d be in trouble. That’s because inflammation is a body’s chemical response to something that it finds threatening or harmful. It is inflammation that makes us (and our animal companions) well again when we are sick or injured.
So, why the bad rap? Acute inflammation is healing, but chronic inflammation--low level inflammation that lasts a long time--can be very damaging and has been linked to many debilitating conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, bowel diseases, neurodegenerative disease, and even cancer.
We can usually identify the acute inflammation that happens when we or our pets are sick or injured (swelling, pain, fever) but chronic, systemic inflammation can be much more difficult to identify. Doctors and scientists use the relative presence of different chemicals within cells as ‘markers’ for inflammation that they may not otherwise be able to see. These chemicals include (but are definitely not limited to) TNF-alpha, IL-Beta, IL-6 and 8, and COX-2, which you may see referred to in studies linked on this site and others.
Causes of systemic, chronic inflammation are consistent across people and animals. They include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, exposure to environmental or dietary toxins/pollutants, and chronic stress. Luckily, many of these causes are, to a certain extent, within our control.
The first step to successfully managing chronic inflammation involves lifestyle assessment and changes. How can we work more socialization or activity into our animals’ lives? Is it possible to adopt a second (compatible) dog? Sneak in an extra-long walk before heading off to work? Increase our horse’s turnout time with buddies? As in humans, diet is also a critical factor: do the diets we are feeding our companions contain known inflammatory ingredients and/or potential pollutants? Though research continues to develop in this area, luckily so do options--there have never been so many wonderful options for healthy feeds for our horses and dogs.
But what about the unavoidable causes of chronic inflammation? The aftershocks of tick-borne illness? The traveling and performance associated with the jobs of performance horses and dogs? Exposure to environmental toxins that you can’t control? Supplementation may help in these cases. Several botanicals (including turmeric and its superstar constituent curcumin) have a proven ability to reduce cellular markers of inflammation and protect cells from the effects of chronic inflammation.
Although chronic inflammation has been dubbed “the silent killer” by some, with a bit of awareness, education, and common-sense action you can help reduce the effects that it is having on your companions’ quality of life!
For more reading https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0675-0