Arthritis is a chronic, degenerative disease of the joints in which the body places bone around unstable or ‘wobbly’ joints. In a dog, the most commonly affected joints are the hips, shoulders, knees, elbows and spine. By the time your pet has reached 8 to 9 years old, there is a 90% chance that there is some form of arthritis present. Once arthritis has begun, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to reverse or stop the progression of the disease. As arthritis worsens, pets will tend to act ‘stiff’ when walking, especially after waking up in the morning or during cold, wet weather and in the winter. As your pet walks or begins to exercise, they tend to ‘work out’ the stiffness and act more normal, but will again act sore after exercise is complete. Thankfully, we have many different ways to attack the pain caused by arthritis and make your pet feel much better while living with this chronic condition.
The first line of defense at The Town & Country Veterinary Clinic is the use of supplements and vitamins in the control of arthritis. Fish oil, or Omega-3 Fatty Acids, is a key component of managing the inflammation and pain of arthritis and aiding in the lubrication of joints. Joint supplements such as Cetyl-M are helpful in regenerating the cartilage in joints to allow less bone-to-bone contact and decrease pain. Duralactin is a protein supplement that also helps decrease pain. A Vitamin-B derivative is also very helpful in blocking a specific portion of the ‘pain pathway,’ eliminating a source of chronic pain from arthritis. During your initial physical examination, we will discuss these medications and recommended doses for your pet.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Though supplements are a great and safe way of managing pain in arthritis patients, eventually, additional prescription medications are needed to help with the pain. NSAIDs are an effective and very safe way of giving that additional level of pain control. There are many different classes of NSAIDs that can be used to control pain, depending on the patient, some are more safe than others. We will tailor an NSAID plan to your pet that will lessen the risks while maximizing the benefits of these drugs. Due to possible rare side effects of these medications, it is highly recommended to evaluate periodic blood work to ensure that the kidneys and liver are not adversely affected by the use of these medications.
Adjunctive Medical Management
Additional medications are sometimes needed to help control the signs of pain in some patients. When we need to add on other medications to make your pet feel better, the most common is a very safe, synthetic, non-addictive, morphine-based medication called Tramadol. Another safe medication used, called a Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan, or Adequan, is helpful in regenerating joints in the face of arthritis. Additional medications can also used as needed to help ‘reset’ the amount of pain felt by your pet. Your veterinarian will discuss these medications and the potential side effects if needed.
At The Town & Country Veterinary Clinic, we are always looking for new and effective approaches to manage chronic pain in our patients. One way to do this is through the use of acupuncture and chiropractics. Both of these modalities are very helpful in lessening the pain felt from chronic arthritis. We are also able to use stem-cell therapy to help regenerate the painful joints in your pet. In this procedure, fat tissue is taken from around the liver and processed to obtain the stem-cells, which are then injected into the affected joints. Over the following months, most pets begin to feel much more mobile and are able to get around much easier.