Arthritis is a type of illness which leads to unbearable pain and/or inflammation in the joints. It is one of the common dog health problems. It is commonly observed in giant breeds, older dogs, and inactive dogs. Younger dogs may acquire this disease due to injuries or accidents. Thanks to modern-day research, a variety of medications are available today.
- Finding it difficult to sit or stand up.
- Poor health, sleeping all day long, and lethargy.
- Loss of appetite.
- Walking with a stiff gait.
- Constantly swollen or heated joints.
- Often licking the joints.
- Reluctant to go for walks, jump, or climb.
- Moaning due to pain.
- Trying to resist touch and yelping when touched.
- During the process of aging, the degeneration of the cartilage in the joints leads to arthritis.
- Sometimes, an abnormal development of bones is found in young dogs, which may lead to this condition.
- Obesity results in extra stress on the joints, which increases the chances of becoming arthritic.
- Some other abnormal conditions like hip dysplasis, or a kind of injury wherein the dog faces an unstable condition of the joints, may develop further into arthritis.
Types of Medications for Dogs
Anti-Inflammatory Medications: NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are prescribed by vets in arthritic cases. These medicines are dog-specific and come in recommended doses for variant breeds. They require regular monitoring. These drugs are analgesics and help in preventing fever, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain quickly. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are some common drugs. Rimadyl, EtoGesic, Metacam, Previcox, and Zubrin are some brands that are most-widely prescribed and available in the market. If gastrointestinal and renal side effects are observed, then the treatment should be very carefully designed. Prednisolone, Methylsulphonylmethane, Dexamethasone, Methylprednisolone, and Phenylbutazone, having low levels of steroids are some good medicines. However, they may have hazardous side effects in some dogs. All these medicines should be used strictly under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Glucosamine Treatment: Glucosamine, the component present in a dog’s cartilage, is also found in shellfish and sea creatures in the form of amino sugar. During the process of aging, the ability to produce the required amount of glucosamine is affected, which leads to hardened and deteriorated cartilage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are used in medications for arthritis for human beings and for dogs. It is always better when combined with chondroitin sulfate, since chondroitin blocks the flow of enzymes which destroy the cartilage while glucosamine helps in its repair. No major side effects have yet been noticed when it comes to this drug. It is available in a liquid form and hence, a complete absorption of the ingredients is possible. It can be easily fed and is a safe nutritional supplement. It reduces the pain and slows the advancement of arthritis. However, it takes time, the results are not instant.
Homeopathic and Herbal Medicines: Homeopathy or herbal medicines are popular arthritis medications as they are very effective. They stimulate the defense mechanism and boost the healing power of the body. As this type of arthritis treatment does not generate any chemical action, no damage is caused to the dog’s body.
Dog Arthritis Supplements: These natural food supplements having disease-preventive characteristics ease the pain and provide relief to the dog. The natural herb alfalfa has a very soothing effect on the pain. Add 3 teaspoons of dried or fresh alfalfa leaves to tea and serve it to your dog. Include vegetables rich in vitamin B, like leafy green vegetables and others like cabbage, broccoli, carrots, parsley, and asparagus in your dog’s food on a regular basis. The minerals present in vegetables inhibit the metabolism of calcium. Products like ‘mussel extracts’ available in pet stores help restore the damage caused in connective tissues, thus serving as good arthritis supplements.
Apart from these medications, some other remedial options are also available for arthritic dogs. They are physiotherapy, acupressure, acupuncture, and massage with herbal, sunflower, or olive oil. These remedial measures greatly help relieve the joint pain. In extreme cases, doctors may suggest surgery. Fatty tissues are removed from the body of arthritic dogs by means of adult stem cell therapy, and the processed stem cells from these tissues are injected into the affected joints, which then help to improve joint function.
Dog Care Tips
- Always consult a veterinarian and use only the medicines prescribed by him/her.
- Medications meant for human beings should never be given to dogs without prior consultation.
- Regular visits to the vet’s clinic are necessary for the follow-up of the treatment.
- Always give the correct dose of the medicine, as a slight change in the dosage may prove life-threatening for your dog.
- As far as the dog’s health is concerned, a balanced and healthy diet along with regular exercises is a must. Exercises should not be strenuous.
- Arthritis in obese dogs may lead to unbearable pain since their weight creates a lot of stress on the joints. So try to keep your dog’s weight in control.
- Let your dog be inside on cold days. Keep the arthritic joints warm by providing warm woolens and a quilt.
- Arrange for a soft and comfortable bed for your dog. He/she should not sleep in a clumsy or uncomfortable position.
- If he/she is unable to eat from a bowl due to pain while bending the neck, keep the bowl at an elevation.
- Support your dog and lift gently, if he/she faces difficulty in getting up from a seated position.
If you are able to see the telltale signs from his/her behavior, arthritis can be detected at an early stage. With proper medication and health management, your dog would be able to lead a pain-free life. Along with the medications, a little bit of extra attention, sublime love, and perfect care can make your beloved pet happy.