Canine Arthritis Medication Treatments Compared

There are a variety of canine arthritis medication regimens, depending on the severity and type of your dog's condition as well as his medical history. Although arthritis in dogs is incurable, many drugs prove highly effective in slowing the progression of the disease and relieving many of the most common canine arthritis symptoms. Each drug or family of drugs has different benefits and side effects, although each dog will have an individual reaction to a canine arthritis medication.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are the most common medicines used to relieve pain caused by canine arthritis. NSAIDs are highly effective in reducing pain and slowing the progression of canine arthritis. On the other hand, there are a variety of mild and serious side effects that are commonly associated with NSAIDs, including:

  • Change in appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Perforation or bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Liver and kidney damage

The risk of these adverse effects is generally low when NSAID treatment is used for an acute condition or for a limited period of time. However, for dogs with chronic conditions like arthritis, prolonged NSAID use increases the likelihood of serious side effects, such as internal bleeding or organ damage. NSAIDs are prescription medicines that should only be used after thorough consultation with your veterinarian and careful tests of your dog's health.

Natural Supplements

If your dog does not respond well to NSAIDs, or if you prefer a non-prescription alternative medicine, there are a variety of natural supplements that may help to alleviate canine arthritis pain.


Glucosamine is a supplement made from shellfish that stimulates cartilage and joint regeneration. It provides pain relief while helping your dog's body to repair itself, effectively slowing the degenerative process of arthritis.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin sulfate is another natural supplement commonly used to reduce pain associated with canine arthritis. It is available as a dietary supplement without a prescription, although the origin and quality of each product is subject to some variation. Chondroitin sulfate effectively reduces pain, but it does not provide the rejuvenating benefits of glucosamine. As a result, the two supplements may be used in conjunction.

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids, most commonly used to improve skin and hair conditions in pets, are also occasionally used to reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA tend to be most effective in treating symptoms of canine arthritis.

Natural supplements provide pain relief and other benefits while avoiding the adverse effects of NSAIDs and other prescription drugs. When administering natural supplements to your dog, follow directions for dosage carefully and consult your veterinarian with any questions or complications.

Each dog responds to arthritis medication differently, and occasionally a combination of multiple treatment programs is necessary. In these cases, check with your veterinarian for the compatibility of the drug regimens and for potential side effects. Working together with a veterinarian, most pet owners are able to find a treatment program that successfully reduces the progression of canine arthritis and the associated symptoms while minimizing the likelihood of adverse effects.