Arthritis in dogs

Is your dog stiff in the mornings? Does he limp after a long walk? Like
humans, many dogs suffer from arthritis as they get older. Eventually the pain
and stiffness may get so bad that a dog will
refuse to stand up. Although the condition cannot be cured, we can do a lot to
ease the discomfort, slow down the disease process and
improve the dog’s quality of life.
The treatment we recommend for dogs with arthritis
is an injection called Cartrophen which
actually improves joint function, easing pain and
helping to slow down or reverse the arthritis in the
joint. It does this by improving joint lubrication and
protecting the cartilage which lines the joint. Most
owners notice a big improvement in their dogs on
this treatment. It is administered in the form of a
painless injection which is given under the skin once
weekly for 4 weeks and then once every 1-6 months
depending on how bad the arthritis is.

Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs):

These medications relieve pain and
inflammation in the joints and are normally given as tablets or medicine that
can be added to the food. Many dogs need them every day especially initially.
In the long term dogs may only need them when the arthritis flares up and will
often cope quite well on other joint protecting medications such as the injections
discussed above and food supplements (see later). All these medications
basically work in the same way – they make the dog feel a lot better although
they don’t actually help the arthritic process.
Joint Supplements: Supplements containing Glucosamine hydrochloride,
Chondroitin sulphate and manganese help to protect the damaged joint
and keep the surrounding ligaments, tendons and joint fluid healthy. We recommend
certain supplements specifically designed for and tested in animals which
have been proven to be very effective in dogs. Your dog will usually need to
take a supplement for 4-6 weeks before seeing an improvement. Treatment
should be given for the rest of the dog’s life but the dose can often be reduced
and some dogs only need it every other day.
There are many human and alternative animal preparations available which
contain glucosamine sulphate or alternative forms of Chondroitin sulphate or a
different ratio of ingredients which have not been proven to work in dogs’
joints.
All of the above medications can be used together and we will usually
recommend this initially. Although we can often reduce or stop some of the
medications with time, some dogs benefit from staying on a combination of
drugs.

Weight loss, diets and exercise:

If an arthritic dog is overweight, it is
really important to get him down to the ideal weight. Older and arthritic animals
often exercise a lot less, they have a tendency to be overweight and this puts an
increased stress on the affected joints causing more pain. Age and neutering are
no excuse! . Even old neutered dogs can lose weight by eating calorie reduced
diets such as Hills Metabolic or RCW obesity.
We now have a fantastic diet to aid with weight loss and help the joints called
Hills Metabolic and Mobility which has helped 100’s of dogs. Our qualified
nurses are brilliant at helping pets to get down to their ideal weight with free
regular weight checks and weight loss programs. Long term it is often best if
your pet is able to get regular, gentle walks. Little and often is better than long
sessions of exercise. Hills J/D and Hills J/D reduced calorie are excellent diets
with added nutrients to help the inflamed
joints for dogs at or nearer their
ideal weight
It can be difficult for arthritic dogs
to exercise and they are often best rested
in an acute phase of arthritis.
Swimming (Hydrotherapy) is very
useful as the dog doesn’t need to put
weight through the painful joints. We
have some details of doggy swimming
pools – please ask at reception. The cost
of hydrotherapy is covered under many
pet insurance policies.