Regrettably, your pet may not be able to tell you if he is in pain. Most pets don't complain or moan and groan about their achy joints. But, if your pet has a difficult time rising in the morning or after resting, if your pet is reluctant to exercise, or is stiff and sore after exercising he is demonstrating the signs of arthritis. Arthritis is the most common sources of chronic pain in pets. In fact, one in five dogs is affected by arthritis and the incidence increases as your pet ages. The most common form of arthritis in dogs and cats is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease (DJD) characterized by chronic pain and destruction of the cartilage and remodeling of the bony structure of the joint. There is often a genetic component to osteoarthritis. Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are two examples of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can also occur after an injury or in response to an infection. Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive disease. It usually starts as an undetectable discomfort and may
progress to the point that the animal refuses to stand or go outside to eliminate.
Hip dysplasia can occur in any breed of dog, but it is most common in large and giant breed dogs
Lower sketch shows a loose joint in a puppy. Upper sketch shows osteoarthritis in older dog
A properly balanced food can greatly reduce the likelihood of hip problems developing.
Look for these signs:
Difficulty rising from a resting position
Stiffness after exercise
Trouble climbing stairs
Difficulty in walking, running, or jumping
If your pet displays any of these signs, arthritis may be present. Please schedule your pet for an exam.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis:
We recommend a comprehensive approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis. First, we must make sure your pet has osteoarthritis. Lymes disease, prostate infection, back injuries and many other disease processes can mimic arthritis.
It is essential that your pet get enough exercise. Exercise is required to maintain muscle strength and flexibility and full range of motion of the joints. Additionally, it helps with weight control and the mental health of your pet.
Active exercise includes free walking around the house and leash walking. Short walks four or five times a day is much more beneficial than one walk for an extended period. It is difficult to tell you how long a short walk should be. 15 to 40 minutes is appropriate.
Passive exercise involves application of warm packs on the joints and manual exercising of the legs. This will help the circulation of the leg and help increase flexibility and improve joint fluid production.
If your pet is overweight, weight reduction is essential. Weight loss will improve your pet's ability to exercise, lessen the pain on his arthritic joints and improve his health and well-being.
Feed a high quality premium dog food. If your pet is older, use a senior diet. If your pet is overweight please contact us for a discussion on the "DOGKINS Diet".
Corticosteroids (cortisone, prednisone): may be used for a short period of time in animals that are experiencing acute pain and inflammation following over-activity.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): are very useful at controlling arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Previcox®, Metacam and Deramax® are once-a-day arthritis pain relievers approved for use in dogs. They are very safe and effective medication. As with any drug, side effects may occur. The most commonly reported side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. We recommend drug-monitoring profiles 1 month after starting NSAIDs then every 3 to 6 months.
Rimadyl® (carprofen) is a safe and effective twice a day arthritis pain reliever. Its side effects are similar to other NSAIDs except some dog develop liver problems. We recommend drug-monitoring profiles 1 month after starting NSAIDs then every 3 to 6 months.
Over the counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Naproxen are not approved for use in dogs and cats. They are potentially harmful in the dog and frequently fatal when used in cats. The veterinary approved drugs are very good and much safer.
Nutraceuticals are nutrition supplements that have medicinal properties. These products claim to stimulate repair of the joint cartilage and to slow further damage to it. Many patients (people too) seem to improve on these products. I would suggest you try it for 3 months. If you think it is beneficial keep using it.
Regrettably, these products are not FDA regulated, making comparison of similar products impossible. The label does not tell how the product was manufactured, how it was tested, or the quality of the ingredients or even if the amount of the ingredients in the product matches the label. With this knowledge, we have selected the following quality joint supplements.
Dasuquin® is the original and the only tested Glucosamine/chondrotin joint supplement available. It also contains Manganese Ascorbate. Made by Nutramax, this chewable tablet is completely assured to be of the highest quality, purity and consistency.
We often use Opioids in combination with other therapies to help control the pain. We often use Opioids when no other therapy has worked or when other therapies are contra-indicated.
Tramadol is the most common opioid used in veterinary medicine for the treatment of arthritis. Tramadol could result in some unpleasant side effects, such as: nausea, constipation, drop in heart rate, constricted pupils, dizziness and panting among others.
Laser Therapy provides a drug-free, pain-free, surgery- free treatment which is used to treat a variety of conditions including arthritis.
Laser therapy is the only course of treatment that actually stimulates the body to heal from within. Non-thermal photons of light are administered to the body and absorbed by the injured cells. The cells are then stimulated and respond with a higher rate of metabolism. This results in increased circulation in the body, an anti-inflammatory reaction, relief from pain and an acceleration of the healing process.
This new class IV Therapeutic Laser is the most advanced small animal laser on the market. The breakthrough of the multiwave system offers greater benefit to the patient that any one wavelength alone. Our new laser service has been FDA approved!
The treatment takes 10 – 20 minutes and requires no sedation. Several sessions may be needed to obtained the desired results.