Arthritis Care in Pets

By far, the most important treatment for any overweight arthritic pet is weight loss. Studies in humans have shown a three fold benefit in decreased joint pain for every pound lost. We assume the same would be true for pets. Once pets have developed arthritis it has been shown that reducing vigorous prolonged athletic activity to multiple moderate workouts per day is beneficial and preferred. Keep them moving several times per day, but at a lower level.

For mild to moderate early arthritis in dogs and cats, we recommend a trial of a nutriceutical (supplement) that contains, usually, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Avocado extract. There is a loading period of 3-4 weeks to see it’s benefits, but for 80% of dogs and cats there is an observable improvement seen when the pet first gets up after a long rest, or when climbing stairs, jumping into the car, climbing the cat tree,etc. There are no known drug interactions with other prescriptions, usually no side effects, and no blood work monitoring needed. This is a great first step in therapy.

Some brand names we carry and recommend are Dasuquin, Cosequin, and Glycoflex.

For dogs who have moderate to severe arthritis, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can provide wonderful relief from joint inflammation. These are drugs that function similar to many anti-inflammatories that people take, like Aleve, Advil, or prescription meds like Celebrex and many others. You should NEVER use any human NSAIDS in dogs because many of them will cause gastro- intestinal ulceration. Tylenol can cause liver toxicity. Having said that, the NSAIDS that have been tested in dogs and FDA approved have brought many arthritic animals back into a reasonable level of activity and have rejuvenated many geriatric pets that years ago may have been euthanized due to poor quality of life. In fact, some dogs feel so good on these meds, that they are anxious to romp and over-exercise. Remember, since dogs who feel better have no sense of self-restraint, you must make sure YOU control the duration and intensity level of their daily exercise. Because of the rare possibility of adverse side effects, some bloodwork monitoring is required periodically. The commonly used compounds and brands recommended by our practice are Carprofen (and brand name Rimadyl), Deramax, and Metacam.

There are also alternative / complementary medicine modes of therapy available as well for pets with arthritis pain. Many pets, especially those who are maxxed out on arthritis medications, get relief with acupuncture performed by veterinarians certified in acupuncture . Some pets respond to chiropractic manipulation by animal certified chiropractors, and K-Laser therapy directly over inflamed joints is becoming popular.

Massage therapy, swimming, and many other modalities that have been used in humans can also benefit pets and there is even Doga (doggie Yoga) now available for those who want “down dog” to be more than a command!

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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