Treating Arthritis Pain In Dogs

Treating Arthritis Pain in Dogs

Arthritis is Common among dogs-so common that it may seem as though every other dog is on some treatment for it. Still, many people don’t understand the range of treatments and how they work. The most common form of arthritis is degenerative joint disease (DJD), which is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage in one or more joints. DJD can’t be cured, but the pain can be relieved by the following treatments.

Lifestyle Changes

Weight loss and regular, low-impact exercise are key treatments for dogs with arthritis. Excess weight places extra strain on the joints and makes it more difficult for a dog to move comfortably. Regular, mild to moderate exercise-such as leash walks or swimming, is excellent therapy for arthritic dogs, both physically and mentally. Daily exercise that is not so strenuous as to cause limping is best. Two or more shorter walks per day are better than one long walk. Avoid exercise that involves sudden stops, starts, and pivots, such as playing fetch.

Slippery floors can be treacherous for arthritic dogs. Consider putting down carpet runners on slick floors. Stairs are often difficult for dogs with arthritis.  Set up your dog’s bed and eating area on the first floor so he doesn’t have to climb stairs as often. A firm mattress type dog bed will cushion arthritic joints. Small dogs can be carried on stairs and large dogs can be supported with a sling.

Joint Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are nutrients that cartilage cells use to repair themselves. Roughly half of dogs with arthritis seem to be in less pain when they take glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate supplements. These supplements can be used along with an anti-inflammatory (although giving both together will make it impossible to determine which one is producing results). The usual dose is 20 mg of glucosamine and 16 mg of chondroitin sulfate per pound of body weight per day. In other words, a 50 pound dog would get 1,000 mg of glucosamine and 800 mg of condroitin sulfate per day. if your dog shows no improvement after taking the supplements for six weeks, then you may as well stop giving them, they don’t work for all dogs.

Adequan is the brand name of a compound called polysulfated glycosaminglycan (PSGAG). Adequan helps the cartilage in the hip joints produce more lubricating fluid, which makes movement less painful. The injections (which are given in the thigh muscle not in the joints themselves) work well for some dogs but not for others. The injections are usually given twice a week for four weeks, then once a week for four weeks, then once every two to four weeks as needed. If Adequan worked for your dog, you would see significant improvement after four weeks.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

These can be used either intermittently (after strenuous exercise) or daily (when a dog has difficulty climbing stars or walking) to relieve the pain of arthritis. Buffered or enteric coated aspirin, Rimadyl, EtoGesic, Metacam, Previcox and Deramaxx are the anti-inflammatories used most commonly with dogs. As your veterinarian for an appropriate does. Always give the anti-inflammatories with a meal, to lessen the chances of stomach irritation. Never give your dog two different anti-inflammatory medications (such as Rimadyl and aspirin) simultaneously. If your dog vomits, loses her appetite, or has diarrhea after you start giving an anti-inflammatory, stop giving it and call you vet.

Never give a dog ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve, as these can be toxic to dogs in relatively low doses. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) doesn’t work well as a pain reliever for dogs.

a. Safety in Antinflammatories that are Used for Arthritis-In 1908, Rimadyl, a prescription anti inflammatory for dogs, was reported to have caused liver damage in approximately 0.2 percent of dogs who had taken it. Nonetheless, veterinarians have continued to prescribe Rimadyl (the brand name of carprofen), because it’s an excellent pain reliever for arthritis in dogs and is safe for more than 99 percent of them. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for my own dog, as I am following the same precautions that veterinarians make.

Those precautions are to (1) run a blood test checking the dog’s liver enzymes before starting on Rimadyl (2) avoid prescribing Rimadyle for a dog that has elevated liver enzymes, which may indicate preexisting liver problems (3) Stop giving Rimadyl immediately and recheck the liver enzymes if a dog loses his appetite, vomits, or has diarrhea while taking it.

(4) Check the liver enzymes one month after starting Rimadyl and every six months while the dog is taking it. Mostly NSAIDS have the potential to cause stomach ulcers and affect blood cells, None should be given on an empty stomach or to a dog with preexisting liver, kidney, or blood disorders. Stop giving the pills and call you vet if your dog vomits, has diarrhea, or loses his appetite after starting a pain reliever. Never give more than one pain medication at the same time unless you vet authorizes the combination, because combining pain medications increases the risk of adverse side effects tremendously.



Acupuncture increases blood circulation and the release of natural pain killing substances by the body. For that reason, it can be helpful in treating chronic pain in dogs, such as that from arthritis. Acupuncture treatments are give once a week for six weeks, and once a week, for six weeks after that. The treatments are not painful, in fact, many dogs seem to find them relaxing. If no improvement is seen within the first four to six weeks, then accupuncture is unlikely to help your dog (it works in about 50 percent of dogs with arthritis). Your vet can refer you to a veterinary acupuncturist.

Physical Therapy

Therapists in many areas of the country now provide post surgical rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, and message for dogs. These treatments increase blood circulation and joint flexibility. Most dogs love to be touched, and such treatments often make them feel better both mentally and physically. Your vet or a veterinary orthopedic surgeon can refer you to physical therapists who work with dogs.

Closing Up

We have covered the different types of treatments for arthritis in dogs, including alternative medications can be tried if you want to check out from above, before resorting to drugs. Drugs have the most effective results, but also have the side effects

(above) that you need to look out for. A good supplementary plan for arthritis in dogs is the good products offered on Happy Again Pet.  I hope you find the information here helpful. Feel free to leave comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Treating Arthritis Pain In Dogs”

  1. Very informative. Already need to practice some of the suggestions. Liver function checks very important. Never thought of physical therapy for my pet!


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