Treatment of Dog Arthritis

The treatment of dog arthritis can often times be very complicated and confusing for the pet owner. Therefore we are going to start with an overview/outline that you will be able to uses as a reference as you continue to learn and explore each option.

It is really important to establish a game plan for the needs of your dog. It is always best to first utilize high quality natural supplements before you turn to the pharmaceutical drugs.  Reason begin that many of the drug available on the market do have potentially hazardous side effects, espcially related with long term use.  Though these drugs have a definite need and are effective, it is best to use then as a last resort rather than a first line of defense.

Treatment of Dog Arthritis Overview:

  1. Supplements
  2. Pharmaceutical Drugs
  3. Exercise
  4. Weight Management

1) Dog Arthritis Supplements

The world of supplements for dog arthritis can be broken down into two categories.

  • Chondroprotectants
  • Natural Anti-inflammatories

Chondroprotectants: Most people are very familiar with the terms glucosamine and chrondroitin. Though most have no idea what they do or where they come from, people have heard via media or doctors that these ingredients help joints and therefore arthritis. Heres a quick overview to give you a better understanding of these two ingredients.

Glucosamine: Glucosamine is compound that is naturally found in both human and animals bodies.  It is the precursor to something called a glycosaminoglycan, which itself is a molecule that used in the formations and repair of cartilage. The problem is one of two things, as your dog gets older their own bodies production of glucosamine decreases or due to rapid damage of healthy cartilage the bodies supply can not keep up. Therefore it has been very common to supplement additional glucosamine to those dogs that need it.

So where does glucosamine come from that used in supplements and are all glucosamines created equal? Glucosamine is commercially manufactured using chitin, which is substance that is found in the shells or exoskeletons of shellfish, shrimp, crabs, lobsters etc.  There is also a vegetarian form that is manufactured by a fermentation process of grains such as wheat and corn.

Often times you well see different forms of glucosamine on the market, such as glucosamine sulfate or glucosamine HCl (hyrdochloride). Of the two of these glucosamine HCl has been proven to be more effective for joint health.

As for wheter or not all glucosamines are created equal the answer is definelty not.  Make sure that you are using a product for a reputable companies that truely cares about the quality of their products.  When it comes to supplement, most of the time it is very true that you get what you pay for.

Chondroitin Sulfate: Chondroitin is also a glycosaminoglycan that has been proven to work together with glucosamine to support healthy joints.  Currently, chondroitin is has manufactured from cartilage of shark or beef cartilage as well as bovine trachea.

Hyaluronic Acid: When it comes to glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid is really the new kid on the block who is showing immense potential when it comes to aiding with arthritis treatments naturally.  Though hyaluronic acid has been around for years it was only administered via direct injections into the joints.  Through extensive research though scientist have recently proven the benefits of oral hyaluronic acid.

To learn more about specific supplements on the market which would be right for your dog, check out the Supplements for Dog Arthritis Post here.

Natural Anti-inflammatories:

The discovery of naturally occuring compounds that work to relieve inflammation have gained tremendous populariity over the last 10 years. Many pet owners are searching for other options than pharmaceutically manufactured drugs to help with the inflammatory discomfort associated with arthritis. Below is a list of a few of the most popular.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): MSM is a naturally occuring sulfur compound that has be researched extensively and proven to be the bond between glycosaminoglycans such as glucosamine and chondroitin. This is why it is often found in combination with these two ingredients. Researchers also believe that there is enough evidence to say that MSM also as some anti-inflammatory activities.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CM): Cetyl myristoleate is a esterfied form of the fatty acid called myristoleic acid. It is commonly found both plant and animal sources such as the African kombo nut (wild nutmeg), whale and animal fat and beef tallow. Though the mechanism of action of cetyl myristoleate is unknown it has been shown to reduce inflammation, stimulate joint lubrication, reduce pain and stiffness.

Omega Fatty Acids:  Most people are very familiar with all of the health benefits of fish oils. The most important thing to know about these supplements that again they are not all created equal. The extraction process and therefore the resulting purity of the oil varies greatly amongst products on the market. It can not be stressed enough that you uses a trust source when it comes omega supplements.  One of the hottest players in this market when it comes to naturally anti-inflammatory relief is the oil extracted from the green lipped mussel of new zealand. Researchers have found the not only is this oil rich in both EPA and DHA it is also packed with ETA a very potent anti-inflammatory agent.

2) Pharmaceutical Drugs

There are three categories when it comes to drugs.

  • Disease Modifying Agents
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  • Pain Medications (ex. Opiods)

Disease Modifying Agents: Adequan Injections: This drug which is distributed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals is truely in class of its own and deserves close attention.  It is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan that is given to animals twice a week for four weeks as the intial phase. Many veterinarians then uses it as a maintenace medication once a month thereafter. It was originally developed in the 70’s for race horses who obviously sustain a tremendous amount of joint disease. It was then brought into the small animal market where it never really gained great recognition.  This really is an amazing drug when it is used at the right time and with the right animal. Again, because it is a drug it is imperative that your dog recieve liver function testing prior to administration

Non-Steriodal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs): The following are the most commonly used NSAIDs on the market today; Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx and Previcox. Though these drugs are truely effective they are way overused in veterinary medicine.  The are some of the most commonly prescribed medications because they are easy to use, cost alot and they work quickly which make the veterinarian happy and the pet owner happy.  On the other hand they have potentially disasterous side effects and they are incredibley expensive especially when used in the long term.  We are not saying that we dont like these medications….just use with caution.

Alternative Pain Medications: The few drugs that make up this categories are drugs such as; tramadol, gabapentin, amantidine,  buprinorphine.  Used at the right time, especially when a dog is suffering with extreme pain due to arthritis, these drugs are incredibly effective, safe and every cost effective. Make sure that you discuss with your veterinarian.

3) Exercise

Exercise can be a dual edged sword for many pet owners with dogs with arthritis. On one hand, you dont want to exercise your dog with arthritis because you know that it is uncomfortable for them and yet on the other hand if you dont they will continue to stiffen, lose muscle mass and gain weight. At the end of the day the key is to make sure that your dog has good pain control and the best joint support supplements that you can buy and continue to exercise them as much as you can.  Exercise is a must.

4) Weight Management

If your dog is suffering with dog arthritis and your dog is overweight it will blow you mind away how much they will improve once you bring their weight down.  5%-10% of total body weight loss will make a tremendous difference in their quality of life. Make sure that you ask your veterinarian what the ideal body weight for your dogs is and then make it happen. I promise you will be amazed.

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