Below is a brief overview by category of the most common Western medicines for arthritis pain relief.
Multiple treatments for dog arthritis exist – too many to mention here.
However, being aware of the different treatment options enables you to make educated decisions regarding what’s best for your dog.
Remember, the treatment depends on your dog’s age, breed, specific problem,
and other concurrent health issues.
There are three classes of medications for arthritis pain: NSAIDs, opiates, and other pharmaceuticals.
1. NSAIDs for Arthritis Pain
NSAIDs all work in the same way and they all have the same side effects.
And yes, they are all relatively expensive with the exception of Mobic (the human version of Metacam) and aspirin.
Bloodwork before and during treatment is necessary to monitor potential side effects.
If your dog has severe issues, NSAIDs may be indicated.
In my experience, Mobic (called Metacam in veterinary medicine) has the most side effects.
Below are explanations of the most common NSAIDs for arthritis pain relief.
Rimadyl (carprofen) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat pain and inflammation from the osteoarthritis in dogs.
It is also used to control post-surgery pain in dogs.
It is given for arthritis, joint pain, hip dysplasia, and joint deterioration.
Rimadyl/Novox should not be given to dogs with a carprofen sensitivity. Adverse reactions may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased water consumption
- Pale gums due to anemia
- Yellowing of gums
- Increased urination
- Behavioral changes
Previcox (firocoxib) is a non-narcotic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to control pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs.
It is available in a once-daily dosage providing relief for 24 hours.
Don’t give Previcox to dogs with a firocoxib sensitivity or to dogs under seven pounds.
Adverse reactions to Previcox include:
- Decreased appetite
- Somnolence (sleepiness)
Deramaxx (deracoxib) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug of the coxib class that received FDA approval in August 2002 for dogs weighing four pounds or more.
This product eases the discomfort and pain associated with arthritis and joint disease.
Deramaxx will improve your dog’s quality of life and help him maintain his regular activity level.
Avoid Deramaxx or administer with extreme caution in dogs with:
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Hepatic disorders
- Renal disease
- Cardiac disease
You should not give Deramaxx to dogs with a deracoxib sensitivity.
Metacam is a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for controlling and inflammation due to osteoarthritis in dogs.
Metacam comes in in both a liquid oral form and an injectable form.
The active ingredient in Metacam is meloxicam.
- The first injectable veterinary NSAID licensed for both cats and dogs
- The only oral liquid veterinary NSAID for dogs with osteoarthritis
- The only NSAID with a special oral liquid concentration to meet the unique needs of small dogs
- A once-a-day product that provides a full 24 hours of relief
- Easy to tailor to the appropriate dose for individual canine patients using FLEXIDOSE™, the ability to adjust dose gradually in small increments to reach the lowest effective dose, which can improve safety and save money over the long term
Never give oral liquid Metacam/meloxicam to cats unless prescribed by your veterinarian.
Do not give Metacam to dogs:
- With an allergic reaction to meloxicam
- With an allergic reaction to aspirin or other NSAIDs
- Presently taking aspirin, other NSAIDs or corticosteroids (unless directed by your veterinarian)
*Mobic is the human brand name of meloxicam. If you use Mobic, be careful as over-dosage and subsequent death is common.
Aspirin is an NSAID and has been used for years to alleviate simple aches and pains in dogs, which is also helpful for arthritis pain relief.
It is effective, cheap, and readily available.
Everybody has it in their medicine cabinet.
Aspirin is safe especially in small doses and for a short period of time.
Now, I don’t advocate using aspirin to control arthritis pain because arthritis by nature is a chronic disease. But, for bumps and bruises, aspirin is fine.
Several things to be aware of when using aspirin:
- The most serious side effect is gastric ulceration and subsequent perforation. Gastric ulceration can resolve with discontinuation of the aspirin.
- Perforation is much more serious and can result in death.
- Aspirin is a drug. Never use it for your dog unless your veterinarian approves.
- Do not, under any circumstances, use aspirin with other drugs unless your veterinarian approves.
- Do not use or NSAID’s or prednisone with aspirin. The side effects of combining these medicines can be disastrous.
- Enteric-coated and buffered aspirin lessen stomach discomfort in dogs. This fact is debatable but is my recommendation.
- Remember, aspirin is not labeled for use in dogs but has been used for years.
How to Use Aspirin
- Start at the lowest dose and only use for a few days.
- Aspirin dose in dogs is debatable but a good starting point is 10 mg/lb given twice daily with food.
- If you are using low dose aspirin for dogs and decide to go to the veterinarian, make sure you inform your veterinarian.
- Your veterinarian may recommend a different NSAID.
- Giving a different NSAID such as Rimadyl without an adequate washout period can exacerbate and perpetuate disastrous adverse events.
- The washout period following aspirin should be 10-14 days.
- Never use Tylenol or Advil in dogs.
- These are brand names.
- The drug names are acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Both of these drugs are potentially toxic and not recommended.
- For the cat lovers, do not use any NSAIDs in cats unless recommended by your veterinarian.
- NSAIDs and cats don’t mix well and the side effects can be deadly.
- A variety of over the counter medicines contains aspirin including Kaopectate, Maalox, and Pepto-Bismol.
- Use these products sparingly for digestive issues.
Aspirin has its place in veterinary medicine. However, aspirin should be used judiciously considering all of the potential side effects and risk factors associated with its use.
2. Opiates for Arthritis Pain
Tramadol falls into the opiate category.
I don’t use it much because I think other medicines are more beneficial.
Tramadol may sometimes change your dog’s personality.
Additionally, several studies have raised questions regarding appropriate dose and dosing intervals for Tramadol.
According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, more studies demonstrating efficacy are needed.
3. Other Pharmaceuticals for Arthritis Pain Relief
Some veterinarians use pharmaceuticals like Gabapentin and Amantadine to treat arthritis.
I only use these drugs to treat excruciating and acute pain.
I prefer the NSAIDs and other treatments listed above to these medications.
Gabapentin is an analgesic and anticonvulsant that was originally developed to treat epilepsy. It is also used to relieve neuropathic pain.
Amantadine is approved by the FDA for use as an antiviral and to treat Parkinson’s Disease.
Powerful Tools for Overcoming Dog Arthritis Challenges
There are many quick and easy changes you can make at home to help you give your dog an edge on easing dog arthritis pain.
- Learn more about dog arthritis.
- Try cooking for your dog or feeding a high-quality dog food. Home-cooked diets and wet food help keep your pet from gaining too much weight. In turn, less weight means less stress on your dog’s bones and joints. PET | TAO’s Chill and Blaze are top choices for arthritic dogs.
- Ease your dog’s discomfort naturally. PET | TAO’s Comfort is a blend of Eastern herbs and Western supplements to soothe your dog’s arthritic challenges to make him/her more comfortable.
- Provide joint support. PET | TAO’s Harmonize Joint is a blend of Eastern herbs and Western supplements working together to lubricate and restore your dog’s joints.
- Try Freeze Dried Kidney Treats. According to TCVM, Kidney controls the bones and joints and supports arthritic challenges in a “like treats like” manner.
- Learn more about TCVM Herbal Remedies. Chinese medicine offers many amazing natural solutions for dog arthritis. Some good examples are: