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What To Do for Dog Arthritis

dog arthritis

Bones and joints wear with age: It’s a fact of life for people and it’s a fact of life for dogs. “What supplement do you recommend my dog take for arthritis…or arthritis prevention” is a question I am asked quite frequently by dog moms and dads. I am heavily ensconced in the pet industry and I have contact with a lot of experts in the ever-expanding field of alternative and supplemental medicine. There is no one “catch all” for all dogs of all sizes and ages. There are things that can be done for dog arthritis.

In typical Fidose of Reality fashion, we keep things real and draw on reality-based experiences. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you may recall our PR (Puppy Relations) Manager, Dexter, has had two torn ligaments and two corrective surgeries over the course of one year’s time. If you landed here because you are facing ACL surgery with your dog, read the ACL recap here. Dexter has arthritis and it will worsen, but we will fight and keep him fit, mobile, and comfortable.

dog ACL brace

Surgery on a 5-year-old otherwise healthy Cocker Spaniel is not something I ever thought I’d face. Both surgeries have been successful and both ACLs are fully repaired thanks to an extracapsular repair of the rupture. For full details on the first surgery and our conservative approaches read here. For an update on the second ACL surgery, check this out.

Whether or not your dog has had surgery or you just want to promote healthy cartilage and joint health, here are things to consider. Always talk to your dog’s veterinarian before making any changes or additions in medicines: Over-the-counter drugs can be counterproductive and downright harmful if not used with caution.

Cartilage

When a dog’s mobility slows or is limited, the health of the cartilage is in question. The cartilage is the spongy and watery pad which acts like a shock absorber as bones move.  If the cartilage and bone are damaged due to arthritis, you can imagine the pain and slowing this produces.

As dogs age, the cartilage dries and thins, and is less able to cushion bones of the joint(s) in question.  When joints break down, the damage begins. Arthritis happens when the joint is inflamed and releases enzymes into the joint. The enzymes break down the cartilage and the fluid that lubricates the joint becomes thin. Couple this with use, injury, and even surgery, and the dog’s joint begins to deteriorate.

knee

Welcome to arthritis.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

These are the supplements with which I have the most experience. Our last Cocker Spaniel took Cosequin DS for most of her life. At the age of five, our Brandy luxated her patella: Basically her kneecap slipped out of place. The orthopedic surgeon recommended glucosamine/chondritin along with regular exercise, and she lived to be one week shy of 15 years old.

Whether or not supplementation is beneficial as a preventative to dogs at this young age is up for debate, but dog parents should consider a multitude of factors. Everything from hip issues to dietary needs and even genetics should be examined. Rather than being classified as drugs, nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are dubbed “nutraceuticals.” Glucosamine is extracted from shellfish shells. When the dog has glucosamine in his bloodstream, the cartilage is able to receive more of what it needs to help cartilage.

Pharmaceutical companies cannot patent glucosamine and chondroitin, so there is little in the way of incentive and money to them.  The typical canine patient who responds to glucosamine and chondroitin therapy is a middle aged to older medium to large breed dog but dogs of any age and size can benefit.

knee brace

 

Sid effects are few but not all glucosamine and chondroitin products are created equal. Products that contain human grade glucosamine and chondroitin will typically be of higher quality. The more costly varieties of glucosamine and chondroitin do not make them the best. Read the bottle of the product and do research in addition to discussing with your dog’s veterinarian. Ascorbic acid or manganese are often used in canine varieties of glucosamine and chondroitin to increase the uptake (boost) of the glucosamine in dogs.

Dogs can take glucosamine and chondroitin for life. Structural damage to joints cannot be repaired by any amount of medication or supplementation. This is true for both people and pets.

Steroids

According to petMD, though corticosteroids help reduce swelling and inflammation for affected joints, long-term use of them can cause additional damage and joint breakdown as well as other health issues. I have not gone this route.

cocker_veterinarian

NSAIDs

Though they can be beneficial, non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can instigate liver and kidney issues as well as bleeding disorders and gastric ulcers. Caution should be used. In both cases, immediate postoperative care with our dog’s ACL repairs included a short term course of NSAIDs. Be certain the veterinarian always does a blood panel to check the kidney and liver prior to administering NSAIDs.

Other Nutraceuticals

A green-lipped mussel named Perna canaliculus is a source of chondroitin. The sea cucumber is another option for pain relief. A popular item in some joint supplements is MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane. MSM uses sulfur compounds believed to stop pain.

cocker spaniel

Platelet Therapy

A few years ago, a fellow pet blogger, who happens to be an awesome veterinarian, Dr. Lorie Huston, shared news of platelet therapy for dogs with arthritis. Using your dog’s own blood, this treatment has been met with success by many. Read more about platelet therapy for dog arthritis here.

Where Should Dog Parents Start?

The choices are overwhelming, but any sort of medicinal treatment, whether vet prescribed or nutraceuticals under the care of your dog’s veterinarian, keeping a dog’s weight under control is crucial. Overweight pets will suffer more health problems and this makes painful arthritis even worse.

Keeping dogs mobile through non-impact or low-impact activities such as swimming, underwater treadmill, cold laser therapy, massage, or acupuncture are all viable options.

somapet dog

What Are We Using

Thought I cannot guarantee the same success for your dog, keeping in true Fidose of Reality sharing of honest information, this is what works for us. Our dog is 32 pounds, stocky, solid, and in good physical shape. He will soon turn six years old:

Daily exercise

Daily massage at home

Warm heat packs now and then

Cosequin DS daily. We were using Dasquan and noticed a bit of tummy upset, but that extra avocado seed boost from the Dasquan would have been my preference. Note that avocados are poisonous to dogs, but the seeds used in this product are not harmful.

Omega 3 fatty acids from Nordic Naturals alternating with organic coconut oil

What We are Considering Adding

Too many supplements is a bad thing. We recently interviewed Dr. Patrick Mahaney about vitamins and supplements and what dog parents need to know.

We are presently looking at Revitamal and SomaPet. A friend’s older dog is on SomaPet with much success and we’ve been reading wonderful reviews about Revitamal in the pet blogosphere.

somapet

QUESTION: What have you used for a dog with joint issues and/or arthritis? Do you use anything as a preventative? Talk to us in the comments below.

Sources:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2084&aid=670

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/7_8/features/Canine-Osteoarthritis_15644-1.html

http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_remedies_for_arthritis_in_dogs

http://www.pet-health-care-gazette.com/2012/12/04/healing-canine-arthritis-withplatelets/

 

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9 Comments

  1. Katie has had arthritis trouble for years, and the vet always says she is so fortunate to have always been very active as it does help slow it down. Had she been a “couch” dog, she might not be with us anymore. We have tried so many things recommended from vets and breeders over the past 2-3 years. Some things worked for a short time and then quit, some had no effect. Right now we have found the best combination yet! Katie has arthritis in her paws and didn’t want anyone to touch them for over a year, but now she is fine with it, a sign that our current plan is working. We have been giving her NuVet supplements, both NuVet Joint and NuVet Joint DS, and she is on her third month of Revitamal. We have been able to wean her off her Metacam completely at this point. It did take about 6 weeks to see the Revitamal starting to work, and after talking to their company, we have also reduced her dose from 3 to 2 ml a day to maintain as of about a week ago. She is walking better and seems to be in much less pain. She will never be a puppy, but we are thrilled with where she is at right now and hope it continues. She is also still walking 2-3 times a day, just not as far or fast as the rest of us.

  2. Great post about supplements. I have arthritis in both my knees. During my athletic days, I never thought about taking supplements, and I wish I had. Now being a pet owner, your article just reinforces how important it is to provide glucosamine and chondroitin for my dog. My vet prescribed the Cosequin DS like you give to Dexter. I’m going to discuss the coconut oil and omega 3’s. As a matter of fact, I’m join got discuss these supplements with my family physician for me. Wow, you not only learn about your pets here, you even help their humans.

  3. So far, fingers and paws crossed aAt 15 1/2 he is not arthritic. Since age of 9 my vet put him on Cosequin as a safe guard. Very good article.

  4. The only thing I have used is SomaPet. Not technically for joint issues but it worked famously to bring the puppy back out in my one dog, Mika. Thanks for a great post!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  5. Thanks for this! I was really curious to read this article. I hate to admit that Bella is aging (and I really dislike when people make it a point to say “Your dog is old.” 10 is the new 2! It’s especially hard to see two of her littermates who have gone blind and to see them all so grossly overweight). But as Bella ages, I have noticed she has gotten a little stiffer. She hadn’t been on any supplements before, but I added Glucosamine (just by itself) as a supplement to her diet. She’s also on Turmeric now which is supposed to help with some inflammation. SomaPet and Revitamal were also supplements I was looking into for her and will be consulting with a holistic vet or canine nutritionist to figure out what’s the best option and nutrition plan to keep her healthy and able to be active (she still loves fetch, Frisbee, and other activities) for years to come-also want to make sure we don’t over supplement. In addition to the supplements though we’ve done a couple of weekly workouts on the FitPaws wobble board the past two weeks and that has really seemed to help strengthen her legs. I want to keep her fit, active, and on good nutrition because I’ve already told her she’s not allowed to leave me and has to live forever-we still have many big dreams we have to see to fruition together.

  6. With Maya being a Lab and likely genetically prone to arthritis, I have been giving her glucosamine. She doesn’t have arthritis yet, as far as I can tell. And I want to make sure she doesn’t develop it. She gets some of her dose in the Zukes Hip Action treats. I’ve never heard of chondroitin and should look into that. I haven’t considered any other preventative actions, other than regular exercise.

  7. Great article, Carol! My dog, Savanna, is an 88-pound Golden Retriever. She partially tore one of her cranial cruciate ligaments about six weeks ago. In the past, when she got really excited about something (like barking neighbor dogs on the other side of the backyard fence), she would repeatedly turn her whole body in tight, rapid circles. I always feared that it would eventually result in a cruciate ligament rupture and that is exactly what happened. I have been using a conservative approach to healing her torn cruciate ligament with strict rest and a high quality joint supplement. I use Cosequin Advanced Strength which I purchase rather inexpensively at Walmart. I use Cosequin Advanced Strength because it has more glucosamine per tablet (1200 mg glucosamine compared to 500 mg in Cosequin DS) and it also has MSM, multivitamins, and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids are very good for the joints as well as for allergies. Since Savanna is a highly allergic dog, I have her on a high quality salmon-based dog food (Blue Buffalo Wilderness) for her allergies and this is also good for her joints. After about six weeks of rest and Cosequin Advanced Strength, Savanna is no longer limping or favoring her back leg. I am looking forward to gradually returning her to a normal level of activity so we can start going on walks again!

    1. Thanks to your reply we are changing from Cosequin DS to the advanced strength. Appreciate the feedback!

  8. In terms of prevention, optimal body condition and exercise are the main keys, followed by quality nutrition. Optimal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is also very helpful. Preventing or treating any injuries. Glucosamine and chondroitin might be helpful; there are conflicting opinions on their efficacy.

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