Managing Dog Arthritis Pain with Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication that can be used for treatment of severe case of arthritis in dogs. It's a pain reliever that can help to reduce swelling and inflammation of joints caused by arthritis, but has significant side effects as well. This medication does not treat arthritis, and therefore it should be used sparingly and for short periods of time in cases where pain management is necessary.

Details of Use

Dexamethasone is a synthetic substance that is 20 to 30 times more potent than the body's naturally occurring hormone called hydrocortisone. It is available in several forms, injectible and tablet being the most common for treatment of arthritis in dogs. This is a prescription medication and should be used only as directed and dosed carefully. This drug should not be given to dogs that are allergic to corticosteroids or NSAIDs and dogs that are currently experiencing any type of infection. It should be avoided in pregnant or lactating dogs and should never be given with aspirin or any other medication that may produce a reaction. Dogs that have heart or liver disease, osteoporosis or diabetes should be given an alternative form of pain relief.

Side Effects

There is a long list of side effects that are commonly caused by corticosteroids, and the use of dexamethasone is no exception. Typical side effects that can be seen with the use of many different drugs, including this one, are changes in appetite, drowsiness or fatigue or a weakened immune system, which may make the dog more susceptible to other infections or disease. In addition, the use of dexamethasone can also cause hyperglycemia, adrenal insufficiency, stomach ulcers, swelling in the brain, Cushing's disease and problems with excessive thirst or urination. If the dog experiences excessive diarrhea, vomiting or metabolic changes, this could be an indication of allergies or an overdose. In these cases, emergency care should be sought immediately.

Cautions and Considerations

Dexamethasone can cause additional problems when used long-term. Proper dosage and additional pain management therapies should be seriously considered. This use of this drug should never be stopped abruptly, but rather slowly tapered, as directed, with a decrease in dosage and increase in span of time between doses. Fatal conditions concerning metabolism and hormones may arise with extended use over long periods of time, as can damage to other organs or systemic processes within the dog's body.

Alternative Pain Management

There are many other alternatives to dexamethasone that may provide relief from your dog's arthritis pain. If you decide to choose a synthetic drug or medication, be sure you are aware of all possible side effects and long-term complications. You may wish to research dietary changes that could provide relief from pain and symptoms of arthritis, and alternative remedies may benefit, including acupuncture, chiropractic or herbal treatments. Many herbs and vitamins have been shown to successfully relieve pain and reduce inflammation in dogs. These natural remedies are generally safe to use, even in conjunction with more traditional medication and can help to increase your dog's overall well-being and quality of life.