Diseases, Elderly Pet Care
Osteoarthritis in Pets
November 29, 2022
Controlling Osteoarthritis in our Pets
Last updated: February 15, 2021
Managing pain is a step-by-step process – it's not black and white like some diseases. This process is important because as we increase the drugs in the system, we also increase the side effects. By using the easiest drug on the body we can prevent side effects such as ulcers, kidney damage and heart damage. Osteoarthritis is the most common problem treated with pain medication.
Arthritis in the joint is like sand in your car transmission: as it grinds, it causes damage. The process has three stages, but most do not seek veterinary care until the cartilage is damaged or gone and the condition is quite advanced. If we change our strategy and start treatment in the early stage with the middle age dog (four to five years in large breeds), we can stop the process before there is bone grinding on bone and permanent damage in the joints.
Adult cartilage is 80 percent water! When the joint is compressed, it is lubricated with this water layer and the thick joint fluid. This allows a “hydroplaning” effect of the joint surfaces. When cartilage is damaged, this hydroplaning does not happen and the damage progresses. Cartilage itself makes a poor shock absorber, but the subchondral bone under the cartilage serves this role well. This bone has many nerves that get increasingly irritated when too much pressure is put on them, which can help prevent overuse. However, once the cartilage is damaged, pressure on the subchondral bone becomes increasingly painful and function is rapidly lost.
The disease process of arthritis often responds to nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These products protect and soothe the cartilage by increasing the joint fluid lubrication. This increased lubrication causes less grinding and pain and better joint function. Antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids also remove the toxins that cause joint inflammation, which prevents further pain and cartilage injury. These products regulate the inflammatory response, which cuts the painful swelling and stretching of the joints.
The short term effect to these supplements is increased lubrication, better joint health, less damage to cartilage and easier pain control. The long term clinical result is better movement, which results in better muscle mass to cushion the shock of walking and running. If supplements are implemented early, many animals never have to go beyond this stage. Joint supplements like Doc Roy's Aches Away are an excellent choice to help support joint, hip, and connective tissue health in dogs. If used early, you can help to keep the cartilage damage minimal for years.
If you need help or have more questions on dog joint health, call us at 800.786.4751.