Dr. Tejinder Sodhi

Question: My Chow/Sheltie mix has early onset hip dysplasia (he’s only three years old and developing a limp). We walk regularly, he eats very high quality food (organic and raw, no fillers) and has daily supplements. Can you recommend anything additional we can be doing to help suspend or reverse the condition?

Answer: Most hip dysplasias are genetic, however, they can be acquired, and are more common in large or medium-sized dogs. You are on the right path with healthy food, but make sure your dog stays within a normal weight, or even more on the lean side.

Most arthritis conditions are based on vata (the dosha made of the elements of air and ether), so avoiding vata-promoting foods, especially raw vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and beans. Meat and complex cooked vegetables are fine; you can even add a small amount of garlic and ginger if your pet can handle them.

The single best herb for your dog is ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – either in an extract or high-quality product, in order to avoid any heavy metals. If you have a good herbalist in town, you may be able to find ashwagandha in a raw root extract. If so, give your dog one-and-a-half teaspoons twice daily. You can also get ashwagandha specifically for pets from Ayush Pet Care and can administer one tablet per thirty pounds twice a day. Ashwagandha is a very calming product for stress reduction, has an anabolic effect to help maintain muscle mass and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce pain and help pets sleep. Keep in mind that it can take up to two weeks to kick in.

Another herbal combination is one-half teaspoon dried turmeric powder along with one-eighth teaspoon dried ginger powder, twice daily. (These herbs are pigmented so beware of staining the carpet!) You can also try the Boswelya Plus Vet product by Ayush as it has these ingredients plus bromelian and glucosamine. Administer one caplet per thirty pounds, twice daily, and increase if necessary. Give three to four weeks to see results, and increase the dosage each week until you notice a difference. Don’t worry about the amount that your pet is ingesting, as the safety is remarkably good.

Good quality fish oil or other oil with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids can also be helpful. Exercise is great; however, keep it to walking regularly with the leash; no running or jumping to catch balls or Frisbees, as this will just aggravate the condition. Swimming or underwater therapy is also great for the dog, and you may also want to consider acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.

Question: My beloved cat Mischa is approximately eighteen years old. I rescued her eleven years ago and she was estimated by a veterinarian to be between six and eight years old at that time. She is a Maine Coon mix so she is still a hefty thirteen-and-a-half to fourteen pounds, quite sassy and beautiful. She has had CRF (chronic renal fatigue/failure) for more than years now. I give her 200ml of subcutaneous fluids (lactated ringers) every other day. Also a Denamarin (sam-E) 30mg supplement twice a day plus a 250mg Vitamin E once a day to support her liver, which is also failing.

In February 2009 and again in May 2009 she suffered a seizure. In May, the veterinarian put her on 2mg of Valium twice a day. I was prompted to wean her off of this a couple of months ago because I felt it was worse for her liver and she is down to 1mg once a day now. I was going to either stop them altogether or try 1mg every other day for a month and then stop them.

She eats only Royal Canine Feline Modified Diet for renal conditions and drinks pure water.

If there is anything I could do for her from an Ayurvedic standpoint that would improve her quality of life I would be deeply grateful.

Answer: Please have blood work done to rule out thyroid issues, and make sure to check her liver values and blood pressure. Keep up with the fluid, and also try adding ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) liquid in pet form, at least 20 drops twice daily. Consider acupuncture for seizures.

Question: I would love to see your latest list on any Ayurvedic herbs which have contraindications for use in various animal species, especially cats, dogs and horses.

Answer: For cats, avoid direct application of neem or tea tree oils. For both dogs and horses, carefully monitor the animals if they are taking phenobarbitals and barbituates when giving them ashwagandha, as it could over-potentiate the effect.

Question: Is there anything that can be done from an Ayurvedic perspective for a horse who is suffering from arthritis?

Answer: I’m not a large animal vet, however, ashwagandha (Withania sominifera) and boswellia (Boswellia serrata) can be helpful, ten capsules daily.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical care. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before using any Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider. It is important to rule out serious conditions when appropriate. This article represents the opinion and recommendation of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health Magazine.