There are some medications that may help your dog, depending on the severity of the arthritis. Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid drug for your dog to reduce inflammation. There are also injectable medications for the promotion of cartilage repair and protection. Dietary supplements generally do not require a prescription. In fact, the most common ones, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, are widely used by humans for the management of joint pain.
While supplements are not designed or marketed as painkillers, they do work to repair and reform the cartilage in the joints. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin give the chondrocytes, the cartilage-forming cells, the elements they need to manufacture new cartilage and repair damaged cartilage. These supplements take some time to begin making an obvious effect, however, and need to be given for life to continue to be effective.
Other supplements that have proven useful for arthritis include green-lipped mussel extract, omega-3 fatty acids, MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane), ASU, and SAMe. Again, and as always, check with your veterinarian before giving your dog anything new and untried. Even simple supplements might complicate an undiagnosed, underlying health condition.
Along with the growth and acceptance of alternative healing techniques for humans, there has been a subsequent rise in the availability of alternative care for dogs, too. Therapies such as massage, acupuncture and physical therapy can be very beneficial for your dog. In some cases, such as with massage or herbal baths, you can provide the care at home. There may be pet massage classes in your area with instructors that teach the specifics of animal massage, or you can do your own research with books written on the topic – either bought from a bookstore or borrowed from a library.
Take note that it is important to know your dog well and know the correct techniques to use before attempting massage. An incorrectly placed “squeeze” could send your dog into spasms of pain and result in a bite on your end.
As before, use your favorite Internet search engine to find local classes or healers that work with dogs.
Keeping your dog comfortable and warm is important during the cold season. Providing your dog with a well-padded bed in a warm indoor location or placing a heated blanket (make sure it’s pet safe) in his bed can make all the difference in his outlook. Special equipment, such as ramps to go up and down stairs or onto higher furniture, can allow your dog the ability to move freely throughout the house and to go in and out of the house easier.
Clothing can also help to keep the joints warm. Wrap your dog in a specially designed dog sweater, or alter one of your old sweaters or sweatshirts to fit your dog.
Image: Rodrigo / via Flickr
The term for the hip and related area
A disease of the joints in which the cartilage and bone become degenerative
Loss of epithelium to the basement membrane
A medical condition in which the joints become inflamed and causes a great deal of pain.
A colorless gas with no odor; can be volatile in a certain environment and is often the product of the decomposition of waste and other products