Managing a dog with arthritis

As dogs start to get older many of them, like us, start to struggle with joint pain as a result of arthritis. During January we will be running an “Arthritis Awareness” month, so we have decided to discuss some management options available to keep your pet more comfortable.

What is arthritis?

Essentially, it is inflammation of the joint. Joint surfaces are normally lined with a layer of cartilage, and lubricated, allowing smooth movement. However, sometimes this protective layer can become worn down or damaged- leading to the surface of the bone itself rubbing together. This in turn leads to an increase in bone growth and therefore an uneven surface to the joint. This causes inflammation which reduces movement and causes pain. The photos here show a healthy hip joint (A), and an arthritic hip joint (B).

Who is at risk?

Arthritis is quite common in older dogs, but it can occur at any age. The risk of arthritis is also increased under the following circumstances:

  • Overweight
  • History of orthopaedic surgery or injury. i.e cruciate ligmant damage
  • Congenital joint problems such as elbow or hip dysplasia

What would I notice?

  • Stiffness, particularly on rising and may ease off as they move around
  • Less  keen for walks
  • May lick the affected joint

What are treatment options?

We are very keen on a multi-modal approach to the management of arthritis. This means a combination of several strategies ( seen below) can combine well to improve your pets’ quality of life.

  1. Weight management
    A larger load on your pet’s joints will speed joint degeneration and cause more discomfort than a dog of a suitable weight.
  2. Pain Relief
    Non steroidal anti Inflammatory drugs reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the condition, although should be used with caution as long term use can damage the kidneys. Therefore a multi modal approach can reduce the required dosage of these drugs.
  3. Dietary supplements
    There are various supplements available to improve joint health.
  4. Laser therapy
    Regular sessions can really help to decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis, and most dogs seem to really enjoy it!
  5. Regenerative techniques
    Over the last 2 and a half years we have been researching the use of regenerative medicine techniques, using the patients’ own cells to stimulate healing within the joint.
  6. Joint injections
    Alternatively steroids can also be injected directly into the joint to reduce the inflammation.
  7. Structured exercise programs
    We can also offer an exercise program to improve your dog’s mobility.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE 1st September 2023

Dear Valued Client,
There have been some recent changes in legislation, which are designed to reduce the impact of drug resistance in certain categories of drugs. These have impacted the way we prescribe medicines to your pet.

Specifically, medicines used to treat parasites, including all prescription flea and worm treatments, can only be dispensed by our team if your pet has been examined by their registered veterinarian within 12 months. Although this has always been our policy the vet now has to annotate the clinical notes (rather than rely on automatic systems) with the exact flea and worming product and duration needed for the following year. Please bear with us as this logistical change may take a little more time than usual.

The other major change is that courses of antibiotics cannot be dispensed, extended or changed without your animal being physically examined. 

We are in the process of updating our recording systems to facilitate this process.

If you require prescription parasite treatment for your pet and they have not been examined by one of our vets within 12 months, you will be required to arrange an appointment.

We anticipate this will not affect the vast majority of pets, as they do receive their annual vaccinations or are otherwise regular visitors, for various reasons. They will therefore have received the necessary checks to be eligible for parasite treatment, without the need for a parasite consultation.

Thank you for your understanding.
Arberth Vets