Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease in dogs. It is a painful degenerative condition that can severely affect the animal's quality of life. It is defined by the degeneration of the articular cartilage and the formation of bony protrusions at the edge of the joints, which impede the natural movement of the joints.
Here are some of the symptoms observed in dogs with osteoarthritis. Most owners attribute these clinical signs to their pet's natural aging:
- Reluctance to jump in the car or climb stairs
- Difficulty getting up after resting
- Changes in the dog's gait
To confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, X-Rays are necessary. However, it is not always necessary to have a precise diagnosis in order to initiate a treatment to control the pain.
There are several treatment strategies for controlling the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis and its clinical signs, one or more therapeutic options will be considered. Several options will only provide better pain control through different mechanisms. Talk to your veterinarian about the recommended options for your pet and do not hesitate to consult again if the chosen approach is no longer effective.
Weight Control And Exercise
It has been shown that overweight dogs develop osteoarthritis earlier. Any program to manage the pain associated with osteoarthritis begins with controlling the animal's weight. Maintaining strong, lean muscle mass is essential for these dogs; daily, low-impact exercise such as walking is key. There are also diets specifically formulated for dogs with osteoarthritis. These diets strengthen muscles and help keep bones and joints healthy.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
There are several non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) approved for long-term use in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. These medications control inflammation, which directly and quickly reduces pain. For dogs on long-term NSAIDs, annual blood work is recommended.
Chondroprotective supplements are products that protect articular cartilage. Healthy cartilage slows the progression of osteoarthritis. Thus, these products have a long-term effect and do not relieve pain immediately.
There are several glucosamine and chondroitin supplements available on the market. Glucosamine products available in pharmacies or health food stores are formulated in the sulfate form only for humans. These supplements are not suitable for dogs, as glucosamine in the hydrochloride form is preferable for them. A course of chondroprotective supplements begins with an initial higher dose for 4 to 6 weeks, followed by a long-term maintenance dose.
Devil's claw, green mussels and omega-3 fatty acids are very safe natural products with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. There is a supplement specially formulated for dogs that combines the effects of chondroprotectors and devil's claw. There are also supplements made from green mussels and omega-3 fatty acids.
Cartrophen Vet is an injectable product that combines chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. It is an effective and safe product because of its limited side effects. A Cartrophen treatment protocol consists of four weekly injections, then one injection per month.
Acupuncture and osteopathy are alternative medicines that can be effective in treating pain for dogs.