ARTHRITIS AND LOSS OF MOBILITY IN DOGS
Canine arthritis is similar to osteo-arthritis in humans and can affect both mature and younger dogs. Joints become inflamed and painful which in turn leads to reluctance to exercise and stiffness. As the disease can progress slowly the first signs noticed may be problems in getting into cars or getting up in the morning. Early diagnosis is important to avoid unnecessary discomfort and may help to slow down further joint deterioration.
Prescription Medicines For Animals
Once the condition is diagnosed many Vets prescribe traditional NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Carprofen or a coxib (cyclo-oxygenase-2-selective) such asmeloxicamor the newer Firocoxibwhichcan improve the quality of life and restore enthusiasm for “walkies”. Our pharmacy can dispense all of these at highly competitive prices. These medicines are often combined with nutritional supplements.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are well established and may be combined with MSM (an organic sulphur compound) These products provide “building blocks” for cartilage and research in humans has also shown that arthritic joints may have only 30% of the normal levels of organic sulphur. Well known “nutraceuticals” of this type include the Glucomax range which includes Glucomax Professional which is not only economical in use but offers the extra benefits of Collagen , Glucomax plus Chondroitin tablets and Glucomax Active Capsules. It is important to check the level of ingredient present as this varies widely and price is not necessarily a guide to quality. Owners report that up to 50% of dogs appear to benefit from these products providing an adequate level of ingredient is used.
At one time Willow Bark (Salix alba) was used because of its salicylate content but the risk of gastro-intestinal irritation is greater than with modern NSAID’s. Devils Claw (Harpagophytum) is sometimes used but there is little evidence of effectiveness and it should never be used in pregnancy.
Harpagophytum and Rhus Tox have been used by owners with belief in homoeopathy. In a condition like arthritis with “good” and “bad” days it is difficult to decide whether homoeopathy has produced an improvement.
Side Effects ?
Traditional NSAID’s can have side-effects which are minimised by dosing with food. These are usually mild but have to balanced against improvement in quality of life. Side effects of coxibs are rarer but may be more serious. Nutritional aids or homoeopathy are unlikely to cause side effects but may not be effective.
Perhaps the most important thing owners can do is to control the diet of their dogs. This will minimise wear and tear on joints as well as reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
As far as possible dogs with joint problems should continue to receive suitable exercise.