MANAGEMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS IN DOGS

I am hosting our first meetup next weekend (Portland Pet Wellness & Health) and our topic will be osteoarthritis, so I thought I would take about it for this week’s blog.

Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease or DJD) is a progressive and permanent long-term deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints, and is more common with advancing age in dogs and cats. The most common symptoms are decreased activity, occasional lameness, and a stiff gait. Symptoms vary, and typically worsen in cold weather, after strenuous exercise or activity, or even after long periods of inactivity.

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed based on clinical history including symptoms such as stiffness, weakness or decreased activity. Physical examination can reveal decreased range of motion, stiff-legged gait, and swelling or pain in the joints. X-rays can be done to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the severity of disease, but infrequently change the clinical treatment plan.

Treatment of DJD:

There are two general approaches to treatment, the western (medical approach) and the eastern (complementary or alternative therapies). Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, and current therapies are aimed at symptom relief and improving quality of life.

Western management involves the use of medications to relieve the inflammation and pain in the joints. These medications can have significant side effects and you should talk to your veterinarian about the specific risks and benefits for your pet. The three general types of medications used to treat DJD are:

  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory drugs): examples include Rimadyl, Deramaxx & Meloxicam
  • Pain Receptor Blockers like tramadol or gabapentin
  • Steroids such as prednisone

Complementary or alternative medicine therapies are becoming increasingly popular, and can be integrated along with traditional Western medicines. This includes the use of herbs, acupuncture, animal chiropractic, aromatherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), just to name a few. Some supplements that are commonly used with this approach include:

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint support and cartilage repair
  • Comfrey for its pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Frankincense, an all-around perfect herbal remedy
  • Yucca which has anti-inflammatory properties as well
  • CBD (Cannabidiol) oil is become increasingly used for veterinary care as well

I believe in an integrated approach combining multiple modalities for treatment of osteoarthritis. I have extensive experience with western medicines as well as chiropractic. Animal chiropractic is a holistic all natural approach to treating a variety of musculoskeletal problems.It does not replace standard veterinary care, but can often reduce reliance on chronic pain medication use, and frequently can result in the pets being able to come off pain medications entirely. Next week I will discuss the benefits of animal chiropractic in more detail.

I highly recommend seeing a holistic veterinarian if you are considering the use of Chinese herbs or other supplements.

I hope this brief summary about osteoarthritis was helpful. When we have our meetup event next week we will be talking about this topic in more detail. The meetup will be at the Hondo dog park in Hillsboro on August 4th at 10am. I look forward to seeing you there.

Thank you,

Kim Cork

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