Despite our best efforts, pets age. Unfortunately, with aging comes challenges and health conditions that we cannot entirely prevent. Eastside Veterinary Associates sees many senior dogs who suffer from joint pain and decreased mobility. Just because your pet is aging, though, doesn’t mean that we are totally helpless. There are many options for pet arthritis pain management that we have to offer your older animal.
Arthritis in Senior Dogs
Arthritis can affect any animal of any age, size, or breed. Most commonly, though, we diagnose osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) in our senior dogs and cats.
Injury and normal wear and tear result in the degradation of the cartilage and inflammation with joints. Symptoms can include:
- Decreased physical activity
- Lowered interest in activities like play and going for walks
- Decrease in range of motion
While arthritis is a progressive disease with no cure, it is possible to slow its progression and manage the discomfort that comes along with it.
Options for Arthritis Pain Management
When our veterinarians diagnose or suspect arthritis in a senior dog, the plan for treatment is often multi-faceted.
Arthritis pain management is based in a few basic areas:
- Weight management—Carrying extra weight can add stress to already compromised joints. We may recommend a healthy weight loss plan to help your pet be more comfortable.
- Physical activity—Regular, gentle physical activity is helpful to keep pets mobile and comfortable. Be sure to keep a schedule of regular activity instead of large bursts of intense activity. Therapeutic exercises and treatment with a rehabilitation specialist can also be very helpful.
- Joint supplements/nutraceuticals—There are lots of options for dietary supplements that can potentially help with joint problems. These are often building blocks of normal cartilage, compounds thought to decrease the negative effects of inflammation in the joint, pain relief, and lubricant enhancers. They tend to work best early on in the course of disease. Commonly utilized examples are omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, poly-sulfated glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and, more controversially, CBD oil.
- Pain medications—Pharmaceutical medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often powerful tools for decreasing pain and inflammation and improving mobility for senior dogs. Other pain medications such as tramadol, gabapentin, and amantadine can also be helpful in individual situations.
- Alternative therapies—There are other alternative therapies that include therapeutic laser treatments, joint injections, acupuncture, and pulse electromagnetic field treatments that may be helpful for some patients.
There is no single treatment plan that works best for every senior dog. Rather, it is best to assess the individual patient and determine a combination of therapies to achieve arthritis pain management and improve mobility. Our veterinarians will start with a thorough history, physical exam, and additional diagnostics based on the findings to tailor the treatment plan to your senior dog.
We might not be able to cure arthritis or prevent aging, but we are here for you to help keep your pet as comfortable and happy for as long as possible. Contact us with questions or to start a treatment plan for your pet.