Arthritis Treatment For Dogs

Have you noticed your dog getting up slower in the morning? Is your dog walking stiffer than they used to when they were younger? If so, these symptoms may indicate that your pet is suffering from Degenerative Joint Disease, more commonly referred to as arthritis.  In many cases, dogs with arthritis will have a slow onset of symptoms, gradually declining in ability and function as they age.  In the following article, I will discuss symptoms of arthritis with a focus on treatments that may help get your dog moving around better, and in a lot less pain and discomfort.

Arthritis is a term you are likely familiar with which refers to inflammation of one joint or multiple joints.  The disease occurs when cartilage which lines our joints becomes damaged and eroded. In healthy dogs, cartilage acts as a cushion between bones, buffering them from rubbing together.  As cartilage starts to degenerate, the cushion protecting the joint and bones are no longer able to protect from the grinding forces as they rub together.

Symptoms of arthritis often develop gradually and you may not notice signs until the disease is becoming more progressed.  A dog with arthritis may be slow to get up in the morning, walk stiff, have difficulty on stairs or just walk slower than before.  You may notice things like your dog having harder times walking around on cold days and may be more reluctant to jump up on the bed or keep a normal pace while going for a walk.  Dogs with arthritis may be overall more stiff, lethargic, and less agile.

Fortunately, there are many available treatment options for osteoarthritis in dogs. Perhaps the most commonly used class of drugs in veterinary medicine is called NSAIDS and they are often very helpful in reducing inflammation and pain in dogs with arthritis.  While NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly used for human ailments as well (Ibuprofen), dog specific NSAIDs are designed to be much safer for our pets than the human ones. Do NOT give a human NSAID to a dog or cat at any time, this can be FATAL! Dog specific NSAIDs can make a tremendous difference in dogs with arthritis, please speak with a member of our veterinary team about both the benefits and risks of NSAIDs if you think they may be right for your dog.  There are other pain-relieving drugs for dogs with arthritis if your Veterinarian does not think that NSAIDs are appropriate for your dog.  Some other medications commonly used include Gabapentin and Tramadol.

Laser Therapy is another treatment option gaining favor in human and veterinary medicine.  Cold or light laser therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation and the resulting pain.  Laser therapy is very safe and easy to perform.  Treatment involves using a laser therapy probe applied over the area of inflammation for several minutes per treatment. Over the course of several treatments, inflammation and resulting pain may decrease, resulting in a happier, less painful pet.

Vitamins and supplements are another area focus in veterinary medicine when it comes to arthritis.  Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and other supplements may be beneficial in treating or slowing the onset or progression of arthritis.  Currently, there are several formulations available in veterinary medicine and I recommend you speak with your veterinarian about safe supplement options for your dog.

From medications, supplements, lasers, and physical therapy, there are many available treatment options for dogs with arthritis.  If you suspect your dog may be suffering, please call your local World of Animals office to speak with a member of our Veterinary Hospital.  After meeting with a veterinarian, together you can both decide the most appropriate treatment options for your dog with arthritis.  With a little help from the vet, your dog’s pain and stiffness can be reduced, keeping his tail wagging for hopefully years to come

Jeffrey Stupine, V.M.D.

Medical Director

World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals