Note: We have put together a more comprehensive, updated page for treating arthritis in dogs, including updated information about medications. You can find that information here: Arthritis Medication for Dogs
Seeing your dog in pain as he or she ages can be heartbreaking. When they are no longer able to play with their favorite toys or run around for an extended period of time, they may be suffering from a degenerative condition like arthritis. In order to help your dog live a fulfilling life during their senior years, you may need to administer medication or joint supplements to increase their comfort levels. What types of pain medications for dogs with arthritis are out there? There are several options and we have made it easier by outlining a short list of what you need to know.
1. Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Also known as NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are just anti-inflammatory agents and do not repair damaged cartilage. The pain relief from NSAIDs is almost immediate. Few types of NSAIDs have chondroprotective properties, meaning they protect against the breakdown of cartilage. Other NAIDs like aspirin, actually damage cartilage with the dosage required for pain relief. For this reason, aspirin is rarely used in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Over-the-counter NAIDs used for pain relief in people should not be given to dogs. Because of potential side effects, dogs who are prescribed NAIDs should have blood work taken to measure liver and kidney levels. NAIDs should not be mixed with steroids.
Oral glucocorticoids (corticosteroids) are primarily used for their anti-inflammatory characteristics. High dosages may destroy cartilage, while low dosages appear to protect cartilage. Glucocorticoids are used in dogs who do not respond well to NAIDs. Long term therapy with glucocorticoids is usually reserved for dogs who suffer from immune-meditated arthritis. Steroids are regarded as harsh medications with many adverse effects. However, steroids can provide fast relief for many conditions and immune issues.
These compounds appear to change the progress of osteoarthritis by preventing further breakdown of cartilage. Chondroprotectants are most effective when used early on in the course of osteoarthritis. Some of these drugs can be used a preventative in dogs that are at a higher risk of developing degenerative joint disease, such as those with hip dysplasia. Condroprotectants are safe to give to your dog along with NAIDs. The combination of the two can reduce inflammation and pain. There are even some prescription diets that include chondroprotectants in their formula.
4. Joint supplements
Joint supplements for dogs work in a similar way as they do for people. They have a unique formula of ingredients that address joint pain and arthritis from several angles. Their ingredients address inflammation, pain relief, cartilage repair, and tissue repair. Joint supplements can be used in combination with other over-the-counter pain relief if needed. Their main goal is to treat and address joint problems long term.
Giving your dog pain medication for arthritis or other conditions may be a great way to help reduce his or her pain levels and increase comfort. By educating yourself on the different types of medications available, you’ll be able to choose to the correct treatment plan for your dog. Arthritis and other aging conditions may affect your dog, but they don’t have to have a negative impact on his quality of life.