Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Canine Osteoarthritis Management

Canine osteoarthritis is a health problem that comes along with age. Although it may seem that your dog is just growing old, he may be suffering greatly from pain caused by osteoarthritis. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. The good news is: there are drugs available to relieve the pain that comes along with growing old.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs that Contain Steroids

It is important to consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any medications.With that said, anti-inflammatory drugs that contain steroids, such as corticosteroids, are rarely prescribed. These drugs are highly effective when treating osteoarthritis, but are risky because of their side-effects. The reason for prescribing these drugs would be because the drugs that don't contain steroids haven't effectively controlled the pain. They aren't prescribed for long-term therapy.  

Side-Effects of Drugs with Steroids

Although the anti-inflammatory drugs that contain steroids are excellent at controlling inflammation, there are dangerous side-effects. The drugs can delay healing, and even sometimes have been shown to cause cartilage damage. This is why these drugs are used short-term, and are seen as almost a last resort. With short-term use, it is unlikely that a dog will develop side-effects. Even so, there are still a wide range of possible side-effects.

The steroids can even cause metabolic and hormonal changes. Even though these seem particularly dangerous, any amount of disturbance in an already old, weathered body can become life-threatening.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs without Steroids

Anti-inflammatory drugs that don't contain any steroids are more commonly prescribed than those with steroids. These drugs relieve the pain, and increase joint mobility. Some of the drugs have even been shown to have protective qualities on cartilage.

Anti-inflammatory drugs may become dangerous because of what they are doing to the body. The drugs are designed to prevent the immune system's response to a problem. Although it is hard to understand, the basic truth is that the drugs are suppressing the immune system, and this is where problems can potentially be created.

Although they are less severe than those with steroids, they don't go without their list of side-effects.

The best thing to do with anti-inflammatory drugs, whether or not they contain steroids, is to give the lowest possible dose that is still effective. By doing this, your dog isn't receiving unnecessary medication. Having other supplements, such as glucosamine alongside the drugs will lessen the need for the drugs, and this means a lower dose will be required. Also, having your vet monitor your dog's blood regularly will give indications of organ damage caused by the drugs.

Side-Effects of Drugs Without Steroids

A list of potential side-effects of these drugs would be:

  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • depression
  • an increase in thirst, and therefore urination
  • jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin, gums and whites of the eyes

There are also more serious, and less common side-effects of these drugs:

  • ulcers in the stomach or intestine
  • blood in vomit

There are side-effects that are closely associated with long-term use, and those would be liver failure, and kidney failure. These two problems are caused by the body's constant processing of the drugs, and therefore losing the ability to. Some of the side-effects listed above, such as vomiting and loss of appetite, are symptoms of kidney and liver failure.