If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, your vet will work with you to develop a treatment protocol for your dog, in order to increase their range of movement, reduce pain, and keep them comfortable. This can involve a range of factors such as dietary changes, getting your dog fit and potentially, supportive treatments such as hydrotherapy, and it will often involve giving your dog a range of prescription medications as well.
Most of the various medications that are prescribed for dogs with arthritis will sometimes present with side effects that can potentially be detrimental to the dog too, and a balanced view must be taken for each dog about the best way to manage their condition and keep them comfortable, while limiting the adverse effects of any medications.
In this article, we will look at the use of NSAID medications as a treatment option for dogs with arthritis, and their potential side effects. Read on to learn more.
Arthritis is a condition that affects the dog’s joints, leading to pain and inflammation which can limit movement and make your dog stiff and uncomfortable. Movement actually helps to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis, and so keeping the dog mobile and increasing their range of movement is an important part of treatment.
Arthritis can be caused by a variety of factors, and is a common condition of old age. Injuries to the joints or natural wear and tear can also cause the condition, as can chronic problems of the joints such as hip dysplasia. Obesity and weight problems can worsen the problem, or in some cases, lead to its development.
Arthritis can also be hereditary, and a dog whose parents or other close relatives suffered from the condition are exponentially more likely to develop the condition themselves.
NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) medications are one of the most commonly prescribed medicines for the treatment of canine arthritis. These medications help to reduce the inflammation caused by the condition, and also work to lower pain and keep the dog comfortable.
Some of the most common NSAID medications used for dogs include well known drugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. While these medications are all drugs that are commonly prescribed for people as well as dogs, the effect that they have on the body of the dog is different, and the likelihood of side effects is higher.
Usage of NSAIDS can lead to stomach problems and issues with the digestive system, as they can affect the lining of the stomach, causing it to break down. This Diarrhoea and vomiting may accompany the use of NSAIDS too, and in more serious cases, stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeds may occur as well. These problems can lead to changes in the texture and colour of the dog’s stools, and also their urine.
Some of the other effects of NSAIDS for dogs can include changes in activity and energy levels, and an increase desire to drink water. Your dog’s appetite may change too, and they may even display signs of behavioural changes, which may manifest as a lower tolerance threshold and possibly, aggression.
Long term use of NSAIDS in dogs can also lead to serious problems such as damage to the liver and kidneys, and so liver and kidney function should be monitored regularly in dogs prescribed NSAIDS.
NSAIDS are the most common and generally, effective form of treatment and management for arthritic dogs, and without such medication, some arthritic dogs will be unable to retain a good quality of life. Arthritis can be very painful and restricting for dogs, and in more serious presentations, the use of NSAIDS may be the only way to keep the dog comfortable. For this reason, the use of NSAIDS when weighed up against the potential risks of the medication usually indicates their usage.
In order to reduce the chances of long term problems or side effects of NSAIDS, they should be used sparingly and only when needed. It is greatly preferable to limit the use of NSAIDS to only severe flare-ups of arthritis, stopping the treatment when the dog is getting along ok on their own. NSAIDS should always be given at the lowest possible dose that proves effective for the dog, and the level of medication prescribed should be regularly reviewed by your vet.
Taking other steps to keep your dog comfortable and get their arthritis under control can help to reduce the need for NSAID medications, and this may include the use of other therapies such as hydrotherapy, and doing what you can to keep your dog mobile and their joints supple.
If your dog is overweight, getting them back down to a healthy weight can help to reduce the stress and pressure on the joints, limiting the effects of arthritis and reducing the need for medications.