Therapies for Pet Arthritis and Controling Pain

Just fifteen years ago, dogs often had to live with the pain of the arthritis and the only therapies available for treatable conditions like hip dysplasia were major surgery. For severe arthritis and conditions that could not be treated by surgery, dogs often just lived quietly in pain or were put on steroids or human aspirin. Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements were just being introduced back then. The big change in therapy came with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), which are obtained by prescription only and can be costly, but are in general quite effective. All of these have side effects, however and these should be discussed with your Veterinarian prior to beginning therapy. Your Vet may recommend doing blood work before starting therapy, and that is a good idea for establishing whether it is safe to being NSAID treatment for your pet.

Non prescription therapy has also continued to evolve and now we have next generation joint supplements such as Cosequin DS and Joint MAX Triple Strength. Some of these supplements combine multiple ingredients in addition to Chondroitin and glucosamine such as EPA and DHA(Omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties), creatine (for muscle development), MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) for anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidants. Although some may denounce this as a shotgun approach, many of these ingredients have been shown to be beneficial in clinical studies and in general are completely safe when administered in a tablet or soft chew form. Even aspirinn comes in a just-for-dogs version now, including a buffered soft chew version that is less irritating to the gastrointestinal system. Liquid joint supplements are also available. It’s a whole new ballgame for Fido.

Lifestyle changes are also important when dealing with canine or feline arthritis. Weight control is critical. Helping your pet achieve a normal weight if they are overweight will decrease the physical load on their joints and will help lessen the pain. Moderate exercise such as walks with your dog can be beneficial. Swimming is an excellent activity since it reduces the load on the joints while allowing range of motion activity and helps build muscle tone.

Combination therapy with an NSAIDs and a joint supplement can work well. Often, what happens is that the pet is prescribed an NSAID by their Vet and then they start giving a joint supplement as well. And after some time, the dose of the NSAID can be decreased and the pet can be maintained on the joint supplement. Always check with your Vet before changing dosage on an NSAID or any prescription medication.

Injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycan ,such as Adequan, have been shown to be helpful. These are administered either subcutaneously or intramuscularly.

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture have shown some promising results. Homeopathic products have shown mixed results. Some pet owners report success with products such as Homeopet Joint.

Lifestyle aids such as elevated feeders can be helpful for eliminating stress on the neck and back. Lifting harnesses, such as Bottom’s Up, can be helpful. Comfortable bedding can help reduce the pressure on elbows. A heating pad can also provide comfort, but don’t allow your pet to lay directly on the pad. Place the pad under a blanket first to avoid any potential injury. For outdoor pets, provide a nice, comfortable and waterproof dog house. For swollen joints, a cold pack may be more helpful. Gentle massage can also be helpful in increasing blood flow to joints as well as decreasing stiffness. Assisting your pet with range of motion and stretching exercise can be beneficial.