Arthritis Medication and Neutraceutical Options for Dogs

Mountain Animal Hospital

Arthritis Medication and Nutraceutical Options for Dogs

 

Arthritis is a complex condition involving inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis is derived from the Greek word “arthro“, meaning “joint”, and “itis“, meaning inflammation. There are many causes of arthritis in pets. In most cases, the arthritis is a progressive degenerative disease that worsens with age.  Although most pets don’t complain, ARTHRITIS IS PAINFUL and affected pets need pain relief now.  Management often involves a combination of fast acting medications and nutraceuticals below.

 

Fast Acting Medications:

NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs):

Analgesics (pain relief medications) such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common form of treatment for osteoarthritis.  They will provide rapid pain relief to your painful pet.  The most common side-effects of NSAIDs include decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Pre-medication blood tests must be performed to make sure that the pet can safely metabolize and eliminate the medication and then continued blood tests every 6 months are necessary to ensure continued safe usage.

NSAIDS available for pets include: Meloxicam (Metacam), Carprofen (Rimadyl), Deracobix (Deramaxx), and Firocoxib (Previcox)

 

Tramadol:

This medication can be used alone or concurrently with NSAIDS to produce multimodal pain relief. Tramdol needs to be specially formulated by a veterinary compounding pharmacy to ensure proper dosing in dogs. Possible side effects are rare and include GI upset, constipation and sedation. This medication is safe to use in pets with compromised kidney function but cannot be used in dogs with liver disease. (Please order a few days in advance as this medication is not kept in clinic)

 

Gabapentin:

This was originally used as an anti-seizure medication, but is now used to treat chronic pain especially of a neurologic origin (eg: pinched or inflamed nerves).  Gabapentin can also be combined with NSAIDs to produce multimodal pain relief.  Possible side effects include sedation, and possible increased thirst for the first few days of treatment. It may take dogs with kidney disease longer to excrete this medication and therefore would need to receive a lower dose. (Please order a few days in advance as this medication is not kept in clinic)

 

 

Amantadine:

This medication was originally used to treat Parkinson’s disease in people, but it has been found to increase the effect of other pain control medications.  Therefore, this drug would to be used with another of the above medications to gain better pain control.  Possible side effects include diarrhea and agitation. It may take dogs with kidney disease longer to excrete this medication and therefore would need to receive a lower dose. (Please order a few days in advance as this medication is not kept in clinic)

 

Nutraceuticals:

 

Nutraceuticals are nutritional supplements that have medicinal properties. These medications improve joint function over time (usually weeks to months) and are often not enough to be used alone to control arthritis pain.  However, their use in combination with fast acting medications can be helpful.  Unfortunately, nutraceuticals do not have to go through rigorous testing for efficacy so optimal dosing has not been determined for many products.  There are some nutracuticals that have been specifically designed and tested for use in pets. These products are recommended because of the research behind them.

 

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate:

These products are building blocks for cartilage to help repair and maintain joints. They are derived from sea mollusks.   It takes six to eight weeks of oral treatment for the body to acquire adequate, and then daily supplementation needs to be maintained lifelong.   Some veterinary products available are: Cosequin and Sasha’s blend.

 

Current suggested daily doses of glucosamine for healthy dogs and cats:

Dog’s Weight

Glucosamine Dose

Cat’s Weight

Glucosamine Dose

10-24lbs

250mg

Under 10 lbs

125mg

25-49 lbs

500mg

Over 10 lbs

250mg

50 lbs and above

1000mg

*After 4-6 weeks may decrease to every other day dosing for cats

*Double above dose for first 4-6 weeks for dogs

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids:

High amounts of EPA and DHA found in cold water fish oils have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.  Again these products take 4-6 weeks of oral supplementation to reach adequate amounts in the body, and then daily supplementation needs to be maintained lifelong.  Flaxseed oil cannot be converted easily in pets as it is in humans, so this products in not as useful in our pets. Products should contain mostly EPA and DHA.  Some veterinary products include: omega pro 3 soft gels.

 

Current suggested daily doses of combined EPA and DHA for healthy dogs and cats:

Dog’s Weight

Approximate Combined EPA and DHA Dose

Cat’s Weight

Approximate Combined EPA and DHA Dose

15lbs

100mg

Under 10 lbs

65mg

30lbs

200mg

Over 10 lbs

100mg

50lbs

300mg

100lbs

600mg

 

Polysufated glucosaminoglycans:

This product acts as a building block for the cartilage matrix in the joint and is usually derived from the trachea of a cow.  They have also been found to have some anti-inflammatory properties on their own.  This product is given as injection by the veterinarian, starting at once to twice weekly and decreasing over time.  Side effects may include pain at the injection site, diarrhea and increased bleeding.  Therefore this should not be given to patients with blood clotting abnormalities. Some products include: Adequan and Cartrophen.

 

Modified by Mountain Animal Hospital –  Oct 23,2012

Ernest Ward, DVM

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