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The Art of Managing Joint Pain


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One day while playing with Brandy, my Akita-Sheppard age 12, I noticed that it was harder for her to run around and chase the ball. At the time I thought nothing of it, but the next day when I went to get her ready for her nightly walk I realized that she had a mild case of arthritis. She didn't jump right up to greet me as she normally would she had a hard time getting up from her bed, but once she was up she was ready to go. Brandy like many dogs at her age has or are starting to experience this painful journey through Osteoarthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the largest cause of pain in dogs. A study sponsored by Pfizer estimates about 20% of adult dogs may be affected by arthritis. According to Veterinarians, Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease involving one or more joints in a dog's body. It often shows up in middle-aged or older dogs. OA isn't just an old dog's disease, nor is it mandatory that all dogs will have OA. OA is generally triggered by the excessive wear in one or more joints, but dogs that have joint irregularities are also likely to develop arthritis in the affected joint as well.

Does my dog have OA?
Osteoarthritis is often noticed when the animal is very stiff and finds movement difficult following rest or sleep but will improve once they start to move around. Sometimes the problem comes to light when a dog is less able to jump into the car or go up stairs, even their favorite chair may become a struggle to reach. Dogs do not often cry out in pain when affected with arthritis but they may become irritable, nervous and less active generally because they are in chronic pain. If your dog shows any of these signs or just seems to be slowing down and getting old, it is time to see your local vet for a checkup to verify if your dog does indeed has this condition.

Is there a cure for OA?
Currently there is no cure for Osteoarthritis. Although there is no cure there are ways to help ease the pain making it more comfortable for your pet.

Dietary Supplements
One of the ways to help slow the progression of OA is through supplements. Supplements that contain ingredients such as Glucosamine sulfate, Chondroitin sulfate, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA), Fish Oil , and Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) are great to treat the pain of OA. These ingredients have been proven to better able fight off the damaging effect of OA. However, not all supplement manufacturers use the same quality ingredients. So to ensure you get your money's worth, stick to recommended products such as Cosequin by Nutramax Labs. JointMax and ReMATRIX by Pet Health Solutions is another good manufacturer. Finally Glyco-Flex III from Vetri-Science Labs has had great success in this field.

Another way to help your dog's OA is through Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). NSAID is nearly part of every veterinarian's weapons to defend against pain when supplements are no longer an effective means. There are only a few NSAIDs approved by the FDA for the use in dog and only can be prescribed by your vet. These NSAIDs are Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox, and Zubrin. While NSAIDs are very effective they do carry side-effects, including damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

Looking beyond OA
Canine OA has long been a problem for most dogs since the beginning of time. The difference now is that vets are more knowledgeable about recognizing the sign. Everyday there is advancement in the research of OA and more options are available to us to help our dog live a longer better life with OA.

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