Chronic Arthritic Pain Management for Dogs & Cats

As dogs and cats age, they experience similar bone and joint pains that we experience.

If little Fluffy or Big Bowser is having difficulty getting up the stairs or jumping off your bed in the morning, your cat or dog could be suffering from a degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis (OA).

Like humans, growing old isn’t easy on the bones, and that romp through the yard, or that easy leap to the bed, can suddenly become a challenge.

Although there’s no cure for Arthritis in dogs and cats,  there are many options to alleviate discomfort and slow the process.  If you choose to do nothing, their condition will worsen over time.

Cats suffer from arthritic pain too!

Many think Arthritis only occurs with dogs, but 90% of cats over twelve years old also have arthritis. In cats the problem most commonly arises in the spine, elbows and hips. If your cat is having difficult grooming, doesn’t jump the way it once did, or grows aggressive when you pick him or her up, your feline pal is probably suffering from an arthritic condition. Other symptoms include going to the bathroom outside the litter box, or the occasional limp.

You have options for helping your pet with Arthritis and we will explain the pros & cons of each.

If your dog or cat is experiencing arthritis there are several options available to alleviate your pet’s pain and, in many instances, restore pain-free activity to those stiff, achy areas. We suggest tailoring an appropriate combination of treatments depending on the needs of your pet.

If your pet is overweight and experiencing joint pain, the most important thing you can do is help your loved one lose weight. It should not come as any surprise that a combination of exercise and diet are key. We understand that often food is used as a reward for good behavior, or as a sign that you love them. But getting them to lose weight will yield many benefits beyond just joint pain—there is no greater way to show your affection. We can suggest weight loss diets and help your pet reach a fighting trim weight.

For animals experiencing localized pain, class 4-laser therapy can progressively relieve pain and reduce inflammation. This is typically a series of treatments, every other day until your pet shows signs of improvement. We then reduce the frequency. Often such treatment eliminates the need for pain medication once the swelling is gone.

Adequan, an injectable form of Chondroprotectant agent, can be very effective. Initially given every 3-7 days for up to 8 treatments and then weaned down to as little as once a month after the condition stabilizes. We can easily teach you to give these injections at home or our technicians can give the injections for a nominal fee. We also carry several oral forms of Chondroprotectants containing combinations of glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), green-lipped mussel, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Hills J/D and Royal Canin Mobility (which we sell here), are prescription diets that include chondro-protectants.

NSAIDS are potent relievers of pain and are often used as a first treatment option due to their effective and immediate result. However, their effectiveness can diminish after 2-4 weeks of use, and they can be expensive. Their use also requires blood monitoring due to potentially serious side effects like gastric ulcers, liver disease, and kidney damage (especially in cats). There are many different brands on the market and there are ulcer protective meds we can prescribe to minimize side effects. In all instances, we would customize an option that meets the needs of your pet and minimizes the side effects.

Other Pain Drugs – Tramadol (a synthetic opioid) can offer pain relief alone or when combined with NSAIDS or other analgesic drugs like Gabapentin, Amantadine, or Amitryptilline (neuropathic pain suppressors). It takes some trial and error to find the right combination for your pet.

Physical Therapy is another way to strengthen the muscles around the bone to alleviate pain. An Under Water Treadmill (warm water swimming) is available in some local rehabilitation centers and produces great results (we can make this referral for you).

Supplements. Fish oil supplements like Derm Caps (used in the J/D diet) are known for anti-inflammatory properties. SAM-e has some cartilage synthesis activity. Antioxidants like turmeric, green tea catecholamines, Vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, and manganese also may be helpful in some pets. There are a multitude of herbal products also available.

Stem Cell Therapy involves harvesting your own pet’s fat cells and then, after processing these cells by a company in California, injecting them back into affected joints. This costs around $2,500 and has had shown good results.

In some instances, Acupuncture or a chiropractic approach can be helpful. We can refer you to specialists that work with animals.

As a last resort oral Morphine and/or Repository Steroid injections like Depo-medrol can offer relief. The use of steroids is controversial and can hasten cartilage degeneration, so we only recommend this as a last resort. Robaxin and other smooth muscle relaxants can relieve secondary muscle spasms.

Your Pet’s Health is our #1 Priority

As you can see, there are a variety of approaches and remedies to help your pet. Here at Greenfield Animal Hospital, we will provide you with several options and give you our best advice in regards to the pros and cons of each course of action. Working together over time we can customize the best combination of the above therapies to best meet your needs. Getting your pet back to their old self is our number one priority.