Tails of Seattle: A pets blog
Veterinary Q&A: Aging dogs and arthritis
Question: If my aging dog is becoming stiff and appears to be developing arthritis, what kinds of drugs -- prescription or over the counter -- should be considered to help alleviate symptoms and make the animal more comfortable and active.? If my dog becomes lame, what are options to avoid surgery?
Answer: The best medications for treating arthritis are prescription NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) because they have been proven scientifically to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint. Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Previcox, Etogesic, Metacam all work very well in dogs and are safe.
If a dog doesn't tolerate one medication, your veterinarian can easily prescribe another. Glucosamines or other joint fluid modifiers are not as well regulated as NSAIDs and have a variable rate of efficacy. The good news is that they have few side effects, other than your wallet.
All in all, weight control, physical therapy, activity modification (avoid running on pavement, jumps off trucks and decks), NSAIDs, and analgesic prescription drugs can be successfully used to reduce the signs of arthritis and make your dog comfortable.
Surgery is not always the first approach -- and this is coming from a veterinary surgical specialist and pet owner!
Dr. Joseph Harari
Harari graduated from WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and later was a member of its faculty. He completed his surgical training at the University of Illinois and later was on its faculty, specializing in small-animal surgery. He has practiced in Seattle and now co-owns Veterinary Surgical Specialists, a surgical referral center in Spokane. Harari is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and has lived with Labradors and cats for more than 30 years..
Read our past Q&As:
Veterinary QA follow-up: More on lumps and bumps
Veterinary QA: Should you dress your pet?
Veterinary Q&A: Lumps and bumps
Veterinary Q&A: Puppy and geriatric exams
Veterinary QA: What dogs can safely chew
Veterinary QA: Why does it cost so much to clean a dog's teeth?
Veterinary QA follow-up: More on cleaning a dog's teeth
Veterinary QA: When to spay or neuter
Do you have a question about pet health? Ask now! We'll pose some of your questions to a local vet in an upcoming post.