Treating Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis is a relatively common medical condition in dogs as they get older. Years of wear and tear on the joints results in damage to the cartilage in their joints. The joint fluid also becomes thinner so it doesn't have as much of a lubricating and cushioning effect. The result is painful joints and difficulty getting up and around.

Fortunately there are a number of treatments that can keep your arthritic dog mobile and pain free.

Glucosamine and chondroitin can help to ease the discomfort of arthritis in dogs as well as people. They are very safe, with no side effects but the results can be variable.

Acupuncture is a natural treatment for arthritis that is popular with many dog owners. Again, it has no side effects and some dogs will respond better than others.

The omega fatty acids that are found in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory effect on your dog's joints. Your vet will be able to recommend the right dose of fish oil capsules for his weight. Don't be surprised if his breath is a bit fishy after you give him the capsules. If that's a problem, then you may want to consider the use of a dog food that contains added omega fatty acids.

Pentosan polysulfate is an injectable drug that is given by injection weekly for four weeks. It helps to improve the quality of the joint fluid and rebuild damaged joint cartilage. Many dogs respond well to a series of injections of pentosan polysulfate but it's common for dogs not to show any signs of improvement until after the third or fourth injection. This treatment is less effective if your dog has advanced degenerative joint disease; you'll get the best results if you treat him early in the course of his disease.

Lower powered lasers can be applied to your dog's sore joints to help ease his pain. Some dogs respond better than others, but it is extremely safe.

Don't forget to look at your dog's waistline. Any extra pounds will be hard on his sore legs. Weight loss is an important part of treating arthritis in dogs.

If you have a few thousand dollars spare, you may want to look into stem cell therapy. In this procedure, fat is removed from your dog's abdomen and treated so that the stem cells can be harvested. These cells are injected into his joints where they develop into cells that will repair his cartilage. This is expensive and agian, results vary.

While the more natural therapies are safe, they may not be enough to make your dog comfortable. This is where the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are useful. They are extremely effective at reducing pain and inflammation, and allowing your dog to move freely and comfortably. The main disadvantage is that these drugs can cause side effects, so if he needs to take these drugs long term, your vet will recommend regular blood tests to make sure all is well.

If you can combine a safe and natural treatment with the use of drugs, then you might find that your dog won't need as much medication. This will reduce the chance of side effects.

There is no single universal treatment for arthritis in dogs, and it will take a combined effort from you and your veterinarian to find the treatment that works best for your canine best friend.