Osteoarthritis Pain Relief for Dogs

Osteoarthritis can be an extremely painful condition for dogs, especially as they age and the joints become more sensitive. The key to treating this condition is finding a method of osteoarthritis pain relief for dogs that will effectively treat the symptoms, allow for physical activity, and enable the dog to begin strengthening its joints.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs Explained

Osteoarthritis in dogs is also known as degenerative joint disease. Before you can begin searching for an osteoarthritis pain relief method for your dog, you need to understand the nature of the condition. Joints are the intersection of two bones. Cartilage covers each end of the bone joint so that smooth movement can occur.

Because cartilage does not contain nerve endings, there is no sensation normally associated with joint movement. However, bones do contain nerve endings, so when the cartilage of the joint becomes thin or erodes, it causes the two bone endings to rub together, creating painful friction. This is what is known as osteoarthritis in dogs.

Surgical Options

One of the options for osteoarthritis pain relief in dogs is surgery. This is typically only done with the hip joints, known as complete or partial hip replacement. During hip replacement, a medically designed joint is placed into the hip socket, allowing that joint to move freely again. Hip replacement surgeries in dogs are typically very effective at relieving pain of the hip, but most other sites of osteoarthritis cannot be operated on. Osteoarthritis is commonly an inherited condition, so even when surgery is successful, there is no promise that the condition will not recur.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the more effective ways to provide pain relief for osteoarthritic dogs is to change their lifestyle. Excessive weight, lack of physical activity, and inappropriate diet all contribute to the pain associated with osteoarthritis. An overweight dog will have more weight to carry on his injured joints, more weight than his joints are ideally designed to hold. This requires a complete change in lifestyle to incorporate more physical activity and less of the foods that could potentially contribute to weight gain.

Anti Inflammatory Medications

Although anti inflammatory medications cannot repair what has been done to joints, they are cane alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. There are three main types of anti inflammatory medications that are given to dogs with osteoarthritis:

  • Buffered aspirin
  • NSAID (nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug)
  • Corticosteroids

Each of these medication types work at alleviating pain by reducing inflammation. The bone-on-bone friction causes a great deal of swelling, so these medications can be particularly helpful. Corticosteroids typically give way to some undesirable side effects, so their use is typically reserved for older dogs that need strong pain relief.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Two the most commonly used supplements for osteoarthritis pain relief in dogs are glucosamine and chondroitin. There proven effectiveness has made them the recommended supplement among veterinary professionals. Both glucosamine and chondroitin work together to stimulate the chondrocytes, cells that form cartilage, to produce new cartilage. These supplements do not fall in the category of pain relievers, but by working to repair the damaged joints, they can provide long-term joint strengthening, essentially reducing pain in osteoarthritic dogs.