Joint Medication for Dogs
- Arthritis, wear and tear from aging or the after-effects of an injury sustained years before are the most common causes of joint pain in animals. She can also have pain from previous fractures, cancer, hip dysplasia and other degenerative diseases.
- Your veterinarian will likely suggest weight loss for overweight pets and probably prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drug (NSAID) to manage the pain. The first drug of choice is aspirin. Dogs typically take 81mgs of buffered aspirin daily, available through vets, specialty pet stores or at drug stores (look for children's aspirin). Avoid enteric aspirin, because dogs don't metabolize the coating efficiently, leaving aspirin to accumulate in their G.I. tract, which can lead to an overdose.
If the pain persists, larger dogs will be permitted to take up to 325mgs of aspirin daily for a short duration. At that dose, the vet will probably suggest switching to a prescription-strength NSAID, such as Rimadyl, Zovox or Metacam. Side effects of these drugs can include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, irreversible liver damage and even death.
- Alternative therapies include physical therapy and massage, heating pads, warm sleeping areas, daily exercise and supplements. Veterinary offices that advertise alternative treatments or a holistic approach will usually offer physical therapy. Larger cities might have pet massage therapists listed in the phone book or available via vet referral. If that isn't an option, you can massage the area yourself. Begin slowly, with light strokes and work your way to applying firmer pressure and easing tension. Stop if your dog seems to be in pain. Most dogs generally tolerate the massage if it is done in a gentle manner with lots of affection.
Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM
- Glucosomine, chondroitin and MSM are all useful for joint pain. An appropriate dose is 500mgs glucosamine, 400mgs chondroitin and 150mgs MSM. These three supplements are often combined together and are available as pills, liquid, powder or chewable tablets. This is the same dose in one capsule of most brands sold for humans, which are also safe for dogs. Large dogs may have up to three capsules per day.
- Other useful supplements and herbs include Sam-E (anti-inflammatory and pain relief), Vitamin C or green muscle extract (both are antioxidants and aid in repair of cartilage), Omega-3 Fatty Acids, up to 1,000mgs daily (anti-inflammatory), Boswellia (improves circulation) and Bromelain (anti-inflammatory). A general guide is to give one-half the human dosage for large breeds, titrated down to as low as one-tenth the human dose for small dogs. These supplements are available in veterinary formulas, but tend to be more expensive when marketed for pets. Some owners prefer to use the human-grade supplements to save money and to feel reassured they are getting a high-quality product.