Controlling Osteoarthritis in Our PetsLast updated: August 2, 2016
Osteoarthritis is the most common problem treated with pain medication. Dogs slow with age, but should still be active and happy to do normal activity. When your dog is reluctant to move, degenerative joint disease is the likely cause.
Managing joint 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. With early intervention and using the easiest drug on the body we can prevent side effects such as ulcers, kidney damage, and heart damage. Even dogs on pain meds find help at lower doses using a joint support such as Doc Roy's® Aches Away.
Arthritis in the joint is like sand in your car's transmission. It grinds and 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. At this stage we are trying to keep the dog functional and control the pain. If we recognize joint issues early, change our strategy, and start treatment 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.
Changes in the JointAdult 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.
Early Clinical SignsWhen your dog gets up and begins to walk like your grandpa; it's time to start joint protecting treatment!
- Decrease flexibility, reluctant to move.
- Reluctant to do stairs, get up, or changes in daily routine.
- Joint inflammation or pain - hot to touch or painful to touch.
- Muscle bulk lost from lack of movement.
Understanding TreatmentThe disease process of arthritis often responds to nutrients such as glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and creatine. These products protect and soothe the cartilage by increasing the joint fluid lubrication. This increased lubrication causes less grinding and pain and better joint protection and function. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids also remove the toxins that cause joint inflammation, which prevents further pain and cartilage injury. Omega-3 also regulates the inflammatory response, which cuts the painful swelling and stretching of the joint. These are quite helpful when joints are painful or after an injury.
- Glucosamine is a major building block of cartilage and is necessary for the construction of connective tissues. It helps the body by enhancing the body's ability to produce collagen and joint fluid. It also helps supply the body with the necessary materials to repair joint damage.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is one of nature's sources of dietary sulfur, which is mainly used to support healthy joints and cartilage. MSM helps lubricate joint cartilage, improving mobility and relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis. When used in combination with Vitamin C, MSM improves nutrients entering the cells, helps eliminate unwanted toxins, and improves overall health.
- Doc Roy's® uses MSM as an alternative to chondroitin. Since MSM is a small molecule, it is readily and rapidly absorbed and transported to the joint capsule. When needed, your dog will use MSM sulfur building blocks to make its own chondroitin sulfate. By doing this, MSM is never wasted and it provides broader benefits to your dog than just joint repair and lubrication.
- Creatine is necessary for the manufacture of energy required to fuel muscles. It helps recycle and replenish energy in the muscles and enhances their performance. It also strengthens and provides energy to the support muscles surrounding dog's joints.
Therapy for JointMuch has been learned about maintaining joint health. We can prevent the progress of degenerative arthritis, but it is best done early. Large dogs have more weight on their joints and should be started by five years of age if slow to rise or decreasing activity.
- Start on Omegaderm-3 - It decreases inflammation and sets the joint up to heal.
- Doc Roy's® Aches Away Plus takes about three weeks to kick in full strength and it increases the lubrication of the joint. Keep your pets on a high dose for this time then decrease to a normal level to maintain.
- Small walks and exercise maintains weight, flexibility, and encourages healing of the joints having issues. Be reasonable as multiple small walks are better than a marathon.
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
- Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.