Guide to Dog Arthritis Medication, Treatment
and Pain Relief
"Medications and surgical techniques are available for treating
arthritis in dogs. Veterinarian’s try medications first, and then use
surgery to improve the way joints are aligned or to eliminate any
bone-on-bone contact. Arthritis medicines for dogs are usually a
class of medications called NSAIDs. These drugs can help to
relieve arthritis related discomfort and joint problems associated with
canine osteoarthritis. The problem is that all NSAIDs can have
gastrointestinal upset as a side effect. Because of this a
veterinarian will only recommend the use of these medications when
needed and in limited doses and for limited periods of time. This
may be supplemented with safe dietary supplements such as glucosamine
and chondroitin, and the Fatty Acid supplements Omega 3 and 6.
Veterinarian's also recommend weight loss to take stress off of joints
and moderate amounts of exercise
Physical therapy after surgery can be beneficial. Techniques will work
to maintain or increase joint motion.
Arthritis pain relief can be addressed with medications or cold and
heat therapy and treatment options such as prescription
anti-inflammatory drugs, nutraceuticals, dietary change, exercise,
weight loss and surgery.
Diet will be addressed for dog’s that are over weight, since weight
creates joint stress. The addition of Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids as a
supplement can help to reduce joint inflammation and the production of
Patients are monitored for any change in condition and to adjust the
dosage of recommended medications.
Over the Counter Dog Arthritis
Medication Options Include from Left to Right Natural Remedies, Foods
Fortified With Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids and Dietary Supplements
NSAIDS or Anti-inflammatories:
Arthritis dog pain relief treatment often includes non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Each dog arthritis medication can
help to relieve inflammation
while also relieving pain. Mild self-limiting side effects are common
an may require monitoring via blood tests to check for liver and kidney
problems. Since stomach problems are the number one side effect,
other drugs might be prescribed to protect the stomach. Serious side
effects are rare, but can include death. They can occur even when the
product is used as prescribed.
Commonly prescribed dog arthritis medications or
(carprofen): Relieves pain with few side
effects. Dogs must be monitored for liver function (using blood tests).
Be certain to be under the care of a Vet when using this drug. Rimadyl
is a NSAID or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Liver problems are said
to occur in 1-2% of dogs, particularly Labrador Retrievers.
Similar to Rimadyl by a different
Also a NSAID, but with little medical
history to make a judgment. Said to help reduce stomach side effects.
This drug is a steroid. Corticosteroids
and steroids can provide dramatic improvement, however they can cause
other problems such as weight gain or muscle loss. For this reason
these drugs are usually used as a last resort.
Note that human dog arthritis medications or NSAIDs such as Advil can
be lethal (deadly) for dogs.
It can also trigger liver and kidney disease in
Other NSAIDS prescribed by vets include:
- Deracoxib (chewable)
- Meloxicam (liquid)
These drugs are effective at managing symptoms of arthritis, but
don�t slow the progression of the disease.
Aspirin, Ibuprofen and
Certain medications can be toxic to dogs. Ibuprofen can be dangerous
due the potential formation of ulcers. Acetaminophen could be
problematic as well. Aspirin could be a good alternative as long as you
don’t see any change in your dog such as loss of appetite within 24
- Vetrin Dog Arthritis Aspirin:
This drug is aspirin for dogs. It does not cause the
stomach issues found in humans. It generally considered to be
safe and effective for chronic conditions such as canine arthritis and
dog hip dysplasia. Also, depending on the size and breed of your dog,
dosing will be different. If the arthritis medicine for your dog works,
your dog should respond quickly.
Again, only use NSAIDS, aspirin or any other dog arthritis medication
advice of a veterinarian as they can be toxic, particularly in small
Natural Dog Arthritis Pain Relievers and Supplements
A variety of natural products including antixoidants, nutraceuticals
and homeopathic remedies are helpful in the management of arthritis.
is an antioxidant that is showing promise in recent research by the
University of Illinois for helping to reduce join inflammation without
the side effects associated with prescription medications such as
NSAIDs. It is thought that SAMe participates in the making of genetic
material, known as DNA, and cartilage.
In clinical studies with humans this antioxidant has been shown to have
a positive impact on arthritis. Canine clinical studies are now
underway at the University of Illinois. This antioxidant is recommended
for dogs that cannot take NSAIDs due to pre-existing liver or kidney
problems or for owners that want to avoid the side effects of
prescription products. As with all medical choices consult with a
veterinarian regarding this new dog arthritis option.
Natural Dog Arthritis Remedies
Other natural homeopathic ingredients to consider include:
- Harpagophytum procumbens
(Devil's Claw) for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Also known as Devil's Claw. Scientific research has confirmed the
benefits of Devil’s Claw in supporting muscle, cartilage and joint
health. (Chantre P, Cappelaere A, Leblan D, et al. Efficacy and
tolerance of Harpagophytum procumbens versus diacerhein in treatment of
osteoarthritis. Phytomedicine 2000;7(3):177-183.)
- Arthrospira platenis (Spirulina)
for its ability to help bring nutrients throughout the body. a natural
source of chlorophyll known for nutritive properties. ). Arthrospira
platenis is widely used as a source of chlorophyll and for its'
nutritive properties, Contains protein, vitamins (including B12 and
folic acid) and carotenoids. (Romay, C., Armesto, J., Remirez, D.,
Gonzalez, R., Ledon, N., and Garcia, I. “Antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory properties of C-phycocyanin from blue- green algae”.
Inflamm.Res 1998;47(1):36-41. ).
- Lecithin for stronger
cell membranes. Found in liver, eggs and wheat germ. Helps strengthen
cell membranes and liver function.
- Glucosamine sulphate as
mentioned above, glucosamine suphate is a crucial element in the
support and maintenance of healthy cartilage, which provides cushioning
at the end of the bones and between joints. Due to promising results in
a number of clinical trials, this nutritional substance has been
approved in more than 70 countries. It is also useful in easing normal
age-related stiffness, and studies have demonstrated that this
supplement is as effective in animals as it is in humans.
A good and reasonably priced source for a supplement that combines all
of these homeopathic ingredients is Muscle
& Joint Support Formula
, which is specifically
treat symptoms, relieve pain and reduce stiffness of canine arthritis,
rheumatism and degenerative joint disease in dogs. It also comes with a
one year satisfaction guarantee.
Nutraceuticals (e.g; Glucosamine)
The nutracueticals Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements often
used to help rebuild cartilage for arthritis dog pain relief. There is
plenty of anecdotal evidence that they are effective in dogs with most
evidence supporting glucosamine over chrondroitin. They are safe to use
in combination with other arthritis treatments, so there is no downside
to using them except the cost. Cosequin
DS is the #1 veterinarian
recommended glucosamine and chondroitin supplement.
How It works:
Glucosamine works by providing building blocks that help to form joint
fluid and new cartilage. This improves joint lubrication and
overall health. Chondroitin sulfate works by reducing
degenerative enzymes that break down cartilage in a joint. Chondroitin
also improves joint lubrication. Both glucosamine and chondroitin
are used together. The goal is to improve the osteoarthritis
condition enough so that the use of NSAIDS and their related side
effects (eg; stomach problems) can be reduced or even avoided.
Glucosamine should not be used by dogs with diabetes and chondroitin
should not be used by dogs with bleeding disorders. Talk with your vet
about whether or not he or she recommends these supplements for your
dog. Note that these supplements will not relieve pain immediately;
rather, they will help rebuild the cartilage, helping to solve the
problem over time.
Perna is found in New Zealand Mussles and contains glycosaminoglycans
(GAGs). This substance lubricates the joints. It is a natural
anti-inflamatory. As a joint treatment it may have limited effect since
it is not easily absorbed when administered orally.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is also an anti-inflamatory and slows the
worsening of arthritis. It is better than many mainstream pain
medications that contain aspirin due to it having fewer side effects.
There is a significant amount of research being conducted on the value
of anti-oxidants in both humans and dogs. These are found in Omega 3
and Omega 6 fatty acids, DHA, and Vitamin E. There appears to be a
benefit to treating arthritis, and secondary benefits such as improved
memory in older dogs.
Nutritional Management and Diet
Recent discoveries in fatty acid nutrition have provided clear evidence
that osteoarthritis in dogs (OA) may be very responsive to dietary
additions of specific fatty acids.
Studies indicate that nutritional management using a therapeutic food
with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and in particular EPA, helped
improve the clinical signs of OA in dogs as measured by pet owners,
clinical orthopedic examination, and gait analysis of ground reaction
Therapeutic foods such as Canine
Prescription Diet j/d, which is designed for companion
OA, supply age-appropriate nutrition and specific nutrients that may
help reduce inflammation and pain, provide the building blocks for
cartilage repair, slow the degradative process, compliment prescribed
medications, and provide tangible improvement in symptoms of OA.
Case Study Example:
A 75 lb (34.1 kg) 6-year-old female neutered Labrador retriever–mix
dog was checked for lameness in the rear two years duration caused by
degenertive joint disease (DJD) and hip
dysplasia. The owner indicated that the dog had moderate to mild
trouble getting up after resting, siffness, limping,
and reluctance to play, run or jump.
The patient was placed on
Prescription Diet Canine j/d and leashed walks were encouraged. NSAIDs
were to be added if significant improvement was not seen in a couple of
months. Improvements in clinical signs were seen by the owner within 45
days and the veterinarian noticed less pain when palpating the left hip
joint after 90 days of nutritional management. The dog had not lost
weight over this period of time and reaching optimal body weight and
condition would be expected to further improve the clinical condition.
No medications or supplements were necessary to control the clinical
signs at this point and continued monitoring was recommended.
There are several surgical procedures available for treating
- Arthrotomy: removes anything that is aggravating the dog’s
condition such as bone or tissue fragments.
- Arthroscopy: a tool that can be used to either diagnose a
condition or remove an aggravating cause. It can also be used to flush
- Reconstructive Surgery: techniques to improve joint stability or
to correct any anatomical problem. For example reconstructive surgery
is used for problems such as deformities and patella luxation (knee cap
- Removal of Joints: several procedures are used to remove joints
such as a neck ostectomy or a femoral head ostectomy.
- Joint Replacement Surgery: Dogs can benefit from a total hip
replacement. There are experimental procedures such as elbow
- Joint Fusion (also called arthrodesis): Joint fusion is used for
chronic arthritic conditions and where the joint is unstable. The
success of the outcome is based on the location of the surgery.
Operations on the hock, stifle, elbows and shoulder have excellent
The first step in helping a dog with osteoarthritis is weight
to normal levels. Most arthritis patients are overweight and could
benefit from dietary management. This combined with exercise can in
some dogs eliminate the signs of osteoarthritis.
Dog Obsesity Puts Strain on Joints and
Contributes to Arthritis
Photo Credit: Wm Jas
Often you need to choose more than one dog arthritis medication. Here
is a brochure on the multiple remedies available.
For More Information on dog
arthritis home remedies and medicind:
Joint Disorders in Dogs
Pain Management for Canine Osteoarthritis
Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., Topeka, KS, USA.