The day your dog is diagnosed with a disease can be a scary day. However in the case of osteoarthritis, if you follow a care plan for canine joint health, you can manage the disease. Taking a few steps combined will result in the best outcome for your dog.
This means that you shouldn’t rely on just one treatment, but instead use a combination of therapies that work together to ease his pain and keep him moving comfortably.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the foundation canine arthritis treatment, and they do this well. They relieve pain and inflammation in the sore joints, which allows your dog to exercise without hurting. However, they do have side effects and this is where other treatment methods can help. They can let you reduce the amount of NSAID’s you have to give your dog, and reduce the risk of side effects.
Other treatments that can be of use include:
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Large studies in people have found that in combination, glucosamine and chondroitin relieve the symptoms of moderate to severe osteoarthritis. You can now obtain formulas for dogs that contain these ingredients and many dog owners have found them to be safe and effective. Find a daily supplement, which is suitable for all breeds, sizes and ages of dog and contains the key ingredients that can improve joint health, such as glucosamine.
- Acupuncture. Many people claim that their dog seems much more comfortable after acupuncture treatment. It’s a non-invasive treatment that does no harm, so may be worth a shot. It’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian who is trained in acupuncture, so they can prescribe other medications with the acupuncture treatment if necessary.
- The essential fatty acids in fish oil can have a natural anti-inflammatory effect, and you can safely give your dog 6-100 mg of fish oil per kg body weight per day. You may find that he will have soft stools and fishy breath while he’s taking fish oil capsules. If that’s the case, an acceptable alternative would be feeding him a specific joint diet with added fatty acids.
- Don’t underestimate the effect of weight loss on arthritic pain. If you put your dog on a diet and reduce how much you put in his dinner bowl, you may find he limps less and is more comfortable. Make sure his dog bowl is raised off the ground too, the stress placed on your dog's neck having to stoop down won't help.
- Physical therapy such as gentle walking, swimming, massage and stretching will keep your dog’s joints moving freely and slow the progression of his disease. Many dog owners find that if they combine weight loss with physical therapy, they can reduce or eliminate the use of NSAID’s.
- Science is bringing us new treatments for osteoarthritis in dogs that may change future treatment protocols. Laser treatment to standard points on your dog’s body as well as to any specifically painful areas can make a big difference to his comfort level. Stem cell therapy where fat cells are collected from your dog and treated to isolate the stem cells. They are then injected back into his arthritic joints where they turn into the type of cells that are needed to repair the damaged joint. This is an expensive treatment and results vary.
There is no right or wrong treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs. Every dog is different, and every owner has different treatment preferences and disposable income. Your veterinarian will help you look at your options and work out which treatments are best suited to your dog.