Fact: One out of every five dogs will experience Osteoarthritis at some point in their life.
Unfortunately pets can’t tell their owners if and where they hurt. And even the most well-meaning owner can fail to recognize the signs of arthritis pain by attributing them to old age or simply slowing down. Some of the common signs are:
- Decreased activity
- Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs or jump
- Difficulty rising after lying down
- Lagging behind on walks
- Reluctance or inability to stand on tile floors
Advances in medications have allowed veterinarians to keep more and more dogs pain free, active and happy. It is important, however to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the source of the pain and degree of arthritis so the correct medication can be chosen. The best way to achieve this is with a thorough physical examination and radiographs (x-rays). This will give your pet the greatest opportunity to alleviate arthritis pain. Since human medications such as Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, and even aspirin can cause significant side effects and less pain relief, here are some therapies that are more effective.
This is perhaps the miracle drug of the ‘90’s. It is given much like a vaccine and circulates throughout the body distributing itself to joints that are arthritic. Because it is a building block of cartilage, which is the protective surface of a bone within a joint, it promotes new cartilage formation which actually starts to repair the damaged joint. Our experience has been that Adequan has an 85% - 90% effectiveness rate as a single medication with virtually no side effects except an occasional sting when injected.
NSAIDs - Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam
These new medications are categorized, like aspirin, as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are very effective pain relievers that have an unmatched safety level in dogs. Side effects can include vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, the same as those seen with aspirin but to a much lesser degree (only 1% - 4% depending on the study). Unlike aspirin, NSAIDs can be used for the long term arthritic patient.
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
A somewhat “holistic” therapy that removes one of the factors associated with the pain of arthritis; free radicals. By removing these pain causing molecules, pets will regain some of their previous levels of activity. It has no side effects but seems to be most effective for arthritic conditions involving the neck or lower back.
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Our doctors recommend Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) screening x-rays in nearly all breeds at an early age. Screening for this disease is done under anesthesia and can be combined with any other anesthetized procedure such as the pet’s spay or neuter or Dental Prophylaxis. The benefit of diagnosing this disease at a young age is that the pet can begin therapies early on that will postpone, and possibly even prevent the painful symptoms of CHD. For very young patients who are already experiencing obvious clinical signs of CHD, we offer a surgical procedure called Juvenile Pubic Symphysidesis (JPS).
There are therapies that can be implemented early on in a dog’s life to postpone or even promote the symptoms of arthritis and Canine Hip Dysplasia. For example, we carry a prescription diet called j/d for the prevention of joint disease.
K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy
Laser Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that enhances the body’s ability to heal itself by stimulating the natural functions of converting oxygen in the blood into cellular energy, transporting nutrients, and removing waste. This provides a significant healing advantage without any pain and is typically a pleasant experience for your pet. Common conditions such as hip dysplasia, knee injuries, elbow arthritis, lower back or neck disc diseases and shoulder problems can be easily and painlessly treated with therapeutic laser.