Arthritis is a painful condition that can only be diagnosed by X-ray. Depending on the location of the arthritic joint, there are many types of medication that can be prescribed by a veterinarian to help relieve the pain and sometimes reverse the damage at the cellular level.
Glucosamine/chondroitin compounds are available in many forms. They are safe and effective when used to treat early arthritic conditions in dogs and cats. The best preparation available is Dasuquin which contains glucosamine/chondroitin and some other naturally occurring compounds that inhibit cartilage degeneration. It is made by the Nutramax Company that did the original research on these nutraceuticals. Their product has high digestibility and a reliable response in our practice. Minor intestinal upset may occur on occasion.
Adequan is an injectable medication that provides cartilage building materials and some additional anti-inflammatory action when glucosamine/chondroitin alone does not relieve the pain. Adequan is administered twice weekly for four consecutive weeks and then as needed. No known side effects occur with this medication in the proper dosage. Generally, Adequan is used along with glucosamine/chondroitin compounds. Minor intestinal upset may occur on occasion, with high doses.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) i.e. Metacam, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, etc. are very affective pain relievers but do nothing for the damaged cartilage. This class of medication requires a healthy liver and kidney to metabolize the waste products, so pre-treatment lab is recommended. Periodic lab, every 3-6 months is recommended for chronic use. Potential side effects for this class of medication are vomiting, stomach ulcers, kidney disease and liver inflammation.
Acupuncture treatments can also block the pain transmission to the brain from an arthritic joint. This mode of pain control can aid in control of arthritic pain when other combinations have failed.
Stem cell technology has become more available through the efforts of a California company that has used the technology to rehabilitate arthritic joints in working dogs and race horses. The stem cells are derived from fat tissue from the individual animal and injected into the affected joint(s). Results have been remarkable in many cases. At the present time, stem cell therapy is used to reduce pain and improve joint function in arthritic joints that are not responding to conventional therapy such as glucosamine, anti-inflammatory drugs or Adequan injections. The cost can be prohibitive and is thereby reserved for younger animals, although animals of any age can benefit from this technology.
Please contact our office here in Tucson if you are interested in pursuing any of these methods for the treatment of arthritis in your dog or cat. 881-3221. Our team of Tucson Veterinarians would love an opportunity to help you and your pet stay healthy and happy!