What are some different ways of treating arthritis in dogs?
Original Question: I have an 8-year-old Akita and as a young dog he ran with me every other morning (8km) and he still wants to run but he’s down to 1km and his hips are sore. We give him glucosamine and 80mg aspirin of aspirins if he’s really bad. Can I do anything more to help him? - Glen
Thanks for your question.
The first thing I’d like to say is that when I get a question like this, I can’t just assume that the diagnosis is right. I would recommend that you consider performing diagnostics such as X-rays, bloodwork, urine testing, and other tests that would investigate whether there is some other explanation for these symptoms.
If your veterinarian and yourself believe that these symptoms are caused by arthritis, then it would be ideal to confirm that by performing X-rays.
So now let’s assume the diagnosis is arthritis. There are some very critical things you can do to control or improve arthritis in your dog. You can use many different types of medications and supplements that can influence the degree of inflammation that occurs in the joint. However, there are management strategies you could implement that could have a significantly positive benefit as well.
Exercise is key to control. You mentioned it in your question that your dog used to run with you but now that is becoming difficult. I think you need to consider that it may not be ideal for your dog to do that level of exercise. It may be exacerbating the condition and the symptoms. I recommend you experiment by doing a level of exercise consistently for a week or two and judging the response. For example, you could leash walk your dog 10 minutes twice a day for two weeks and monitor how much lameness that creates. If there are no symptoms, then you could increase the duration, frequency and intensity of the exercise to a small degree and reassess after another two weeks.
Glucosamine’s are a great supplement. The research is largely anecdotal but many pet owners have noticed an improvement with their dog’s arthritis when they use them. There are all sorts of different glucosamine products so I would recommend that you work with your veterinarian and get their recommendation on a product and dose that they think would benefit your dog.
There are other products and strategies you can consider to help control this issue. I outline them in the following article, “7 Strategies for Treating Arthritis in Cats and Dogs.”
Lastly, I want to mention a very important concept. Arthritis is progressive. Waves of inflammation that occur in a joint will slowly break that joint down. It’s called degenerative joint disease. So what I always tell clients is that if you see your dog limping, then that means there is pain in the joints, then that means there’s inflammation in the joint, then that means that the joint is being destroyed. So the goal is to never see lameness. Any lameness means that you’re contributing to degenerative joint disease. So use the four concepts mentioned above and implement proper treatment and management to control the condition. This will improve your dog’s function and quality of life in the future.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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