8 Natural Ways To Reduce Inflammation

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It’s one of those hard-to-define, vague terms that often defies simple explanation because it presents in so many unique ways and affects numerous systems of the body.

The most basic interpretation of inflammation includes a host of symptomatic or descriptive terms including redness, localized swelling, heat, tenderness and pain upon physical touch.

Inflammation can be acute (think shoulder hyperextentsion) and chronic.  Acute inflammation usually only last for a short period of time due to the body’s response to an injury, poison, or ingestion of something that your dog might be sensitive to like flax oil.

Many times acute inflammation turns chronic because we miss the signals our dogs are trying to give us (too bad they can’t talk) or the specified treatment is too suppressive for the bodies desired response.

Chronic inflammation is the number one reason for vet visits and disease.

Chronic inflammation, is a wake up call to a bigger issue within the body that needs to be addressed through diet, lifestyle and natural healing modalities like herbs, homeopathy, and other holistic, whole-body solutions.

Mainstream medicines only defense is to suppress symptoms by prescribing drugs that mask and drive disease deeper into the body through the suppression-inflammation cycle.

Dealing with chronic inflammation is really about prevention and origination. No matter what, two things are crucial to know:

Inflammation can actually be a necessary phase of the post-injury/illness healing process that should be allowed to run its course without interruption and Mother Nature offers several holistic healing options that provide relief without completely suppressing the body.

Most inflammation fighting prescriptions cause what is known as the suppression-inflammation cycle. For example, corticosteroid use.  Your vet gives your dog steroids for a hot spot. Boom.  Hot spot has stopped spreading and his hair is starting to grow back.

Life is good… for a while.  Three months later, he gets another hot spot and this leaves you perplexed and frustrated.

“I though we had this beat!”

The original issue of why the inflammation had occurred in the first place wasn’t addressed; the steroid wore off and then the body’s original expression came back with a vengeance.

This cycle can go on for years until the body eventually weakens and pushes the inflammation and disease deep into the body to form a more systemic chronic condition.

Let’s look at the bigger picture.  You feed your dog what you think is a great fresh food diet full of “good for my dog” ingredients like flax, broccoli, beef and organic brown rice.  What if your dog was sensitive to flax?  Each day you would be giving your dog an ingredient that sets off their inflammation response.  Yes, inflammation sourcing can be as simple as an elimination diet.

You can apply this concept to anything you put in or on your dog.  This is a great place to start in trying to figure out the origin of the chronic inflammation.  Acute inflammation is much easier as most cases are related to an injury.

For vaccine related inflammation, I would suggest seeing a homeopathic vet.  I have had much success with resolving chronic vaccine-relation inflammation through homeopathic care.

Traditional Options

Conventional medicine offers many pain relievers and anti-inflammatories that you may or may not be familiar with. The two main categories of prescription anti-inflammatories are corticosteroids and NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

These drugs are over prescribed and promise to address the three pillars of inflammation: heat, swelling and pain.  Acute inflammation can sometimes benefit from these types of drugs but chronic inflammation like arthritis, spinal issues, skin irritation, ear infections, bowel disease, gum disease, cancer and diarrhea can spell disaster when lifestyle and the underlying cause isn’t addressed.

Long tern use of corticosteroids and NSAID’s can lead to a breakdown of the body’s immune system and cause systemic issues that are hard to treat.

Rimadlyl, Gabbapentin, Metacam, Previcox, Aspirin and Dermmax are the main drugs associated with pain and inflammation in the conventional veterinary tool kit.  These drugs serve up a nice plate of side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritations, slower healing times, bleeding ulcers, jaundice, seizures, weight loss and even death.

What most people don’t realize is that the body pushes most of the dis-ease to the surface in the forms of skin irritations, itching, dermatitis and ear infections.  These are all warning signs that an imbalance has occurred and needs to be addressed not suppressed.

Luckily, nature provides us with a myriad of options to help support the inflammation response and make it manageable.

I recommend working with a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian as well as a experienced herbalist to work out dosage options and get you started.  If used the wrong way, herbs can be suppressive and we only want that to occur under life threatening circumstances.

Natural Options

Below are just a few of the natural options. Always check with your doctor if your dog is pregnant before using any medication natural or otherwise.

Hemp Seeds


Hulled hemp seeds are a nutritionally effective addition to your dog’s diet.  You can also add organic, cold-pressed hemp seed oil, which is anti-inflammatory and full of essential fatty acids, dietary acids, vitamins and minerals.

One-quarter teaspoon per for small dogs, one-half teaspoon for medium dogs and one teaspoon for large dogs is a good place to start.  If you see any excessive itching with the use of hemp, discontinue use.

Solomon’s Seal ( Polygonatum biflorum)


Solomon’s Seal is a moistening herb that relieves dryness and pain, especially spasm.  A root, Solomon’s seal helps calm tissues, restore damaged cartilage and connective tissue. The allantoin in Solomon’s seal reduces inflammation of the muscular-skeletal systems.

Herbal clinical practice suggests that Solomon’s seal helps facilitate cortisone and buildup synovial fluids in the joints.  Caution: Don’t use Solomon’s seal with diabetic dogs as it can lower blood sugar and avoid two weeks prior to any surgery.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)


Turmeric has grown in popularity over the last few years as an effective anti-inflammatory.  It is somewhat equal to steroids in proper dosages.

I would caution giving it to a dog that tends to be hot as it is highly warming and can make some dogs worse.  Whenever you administer turmeric in its raw form or as a pure powder, at a pinch of black pepper to help facilitate absorption.

Cats Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)


Cat’s claw is anti-inflammatory, immune enhancer used in cases of arthritis.  High in alkaloids and antioxidants, cat’s claw also provides support through glycosides, proanthocyanidins and beta sitosterol that are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory.

St. John’s Wort (Hypercum perforatum)

St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum

St. John’s Wort is a nervine (supports the nerves) and helps to reduce pain and inflammation.  It works to calm nerve endings and if given early enough, help bring down the inflammation response.

Devils’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)


Not to be mistaken for Cat’s claw, devil’s claw works as a specific for certain types of arthritis.  Helps bring down the inflammation response and act as a tonic (support) for the liver and the kidneys.

Yucca ( Yucca filamentosa)  


Yucca contains steroids to act as a natural pain reliever especially joint pain.  Caution must be used with yucca.  Don’t use for more than two weeks. I like to do two weeks on and two weeks off.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)


Alfalfa is an herb that must be used organic or it’s most likely from a GMO source. Alfalfa is a nutritive that adds vitamins and minerals to the diet, enzymes, and anti-inflammatory properties that work against arthritic conditions.

Use one-quarter teaspoon for small dogs, one-half teaspoon for medium sized dogs and one teaspoon for large dogs twice per day.


Most of our dogs begin life in what we perceive as “perfect” health.   As they grow up, exposure to improper diet, pollution, vaccines and the plethora of other bodily pollutants begin to create imbalances and eventually their bodies produce inflammation as a response.

Inflammation is one of the body’s ways of isolating and calling attention to changes in its equilibrium.  Most inflammation, if allowed to progress through its cycle will “discharge” from the body restoring balance.  Stopping inflammation with steroids and pain relievers can drive disease deeper into the body and the inflammation response becomes chronic. If we ignore the body’s call, the process of degeneration will occur and this is where we see issues like tumors, congested heart failure, lung disease and cancer proliferate.

The body won’t show measurable signs of disease until it becomes chronic at a cellular level.  For inflammation to truly be addressed, you must start at the beginning and figure out what is causing the issues.  Is it lifestyle? Diet? Chemicals in the environment? Topical treatments?  Vaccinations?  All of these issues can affect dogs differently.

We must sleuth them out to begin the process of reversing the damage.  This takes time, patience and trust in the holistic health process.  When disease has reached a degenerative state, a holistic practitioner must guide you the stages that it took to get to there.

Chronic inflammation, inflammation and discharge (think hot spot or ear infection).  Then and only then, will the body be able to rebalance itself.

About the Author Rita Hogan

Rita Hogan is a canine herbalist and co-founder of Farm Dog Naturals, (farmdognaturals.com) an herbal remedy company for the All-Natural Dog. Rita combines nature with her love for dogs by offering consulting that focuses on dogs as individuals: mind, body and spirit. Her practice incorporates herbal medicine, complementary therapies and environmental stewardship to help dogs and people find balance and partnership with nature.

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