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Pain relief for dogs with arthritis

From the desk of Dr. Chelsea Luedke

It is an unfortunate fact; to some degree, all dogs will suffer from joint pain and osteoarthritis at varying degrees during their lifetime.  The limitations we see in them may be as mild as chasing fewer balls at the park or as significant as not being able to navigate stairs or get into cars.  Luckily, there are a variety of medications and supplements that can be used to help our best friends when they are in pain. Prescription medications to ask your veterinarian about: 

  • NSAIDs- Rimadyl (Carprofen), Previcox (Firocoxib), Metacam (Meloxicam), Galliprant (grapiprant), Deramaxx (deracoxib) can help just like Advil/Tylenol for humans but do carry certain side effects and risks.
  • Adequan- Injectable polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAGs) are proven to aid in cartilage degeneration and can be helpful in any stage of arthritis in dogs.
  • Gabapentin- a different pathway of pain relief can help a lot of dogs and has a wide dosing range meaning that it is typically safe for dogs.
  • Amantadine- for those dogs suffering from significant chronic pain, as part of a multi-modal pain approach.
  • Corticosteroids- while not to be used in combination with NSAIDs (can cause gastrointestinal ulceration), corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications. They are not appropriate for all pets.

If your beloved dog is on one or several of these medications and not seeing sufficient relief, I try to incorporate other therapies as part of a holistic approach in my patients. These are also helpful for dogs just starting to slow down and to avoid using pharmaceuticals initially. Here are some other avenues to try: 

  • Laser therapy- try to find a veterinarian with a class IV therapeutic laser, it can greatly reduce pain by stimulating blood flow and tissue repair and is non-invasive.
  • Acupuncture- ancient Chinese medicine can greatly improve dog’s quality of life and comfort levels and most dogs enjoy it!
  • Supplements- over the counter supplements that include glucosamine sulfate, MSM, green lipped mussel, and omega 3 and 6’s can vastly improve comfort levels within 4-6 weeks. I have used this in my own senior pets and found significant benefits.  One option is VetCS Chewable Tabs for Dogs
  • CBD and Hemp Products- can help dogs suffering from arthritis as CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory agent; several universities have published studies showing improvements in joint pain following CBD therapy (1-2mg/kg twice daily). My recommendation is a full spectrum extract product like: VetCS 1000mg Hemp Oil. For more information on studies, click here.
  • Physical therapy: Underwater treadmills and rehab have come a long way in veterinary medicine. To find a facility near you, click here.

Above all else, make sure that you are doing the best for your pet and making sure they are at a healthy weight.  I see it all too often; a dog that is overweight and struggling with respiratory issues and joint pain. A concerted effort to reduce weight and do low intensity exercise at first can reap massive rewards later in life.  Orthopedic beds and daily walks can help pets stay comfortable into their golden years. As always if you have questions please reach out to our Veterinary Team at 1-800-840-5730. 


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