Which arthritis medications for dogs have the least harmful effect on the kidneys?

Original Question: Hi Dr. Greenway too many calls into Talk Radio 1010 this morning so I was directed to your site. Our Yellow Lab Gracie turned 13 on March 14, 2017 - a milestone! She still acts like a crazy 6-month-old pup who loves people. Still enjoys her walk, a little bit slower, a little bit longer but insists on going out. Loves the backyard and I'm sure she’s convinced the squirrels are up to no good on our property. So once the side door opens she’s after them chasing them down the white fence and up the big old oak tree. My questions and concerns relate to Gracie’s pain management and mobility. She visited our local vet on April 11 and he decided to switch her from Metacam to Tramadol. She had been on Metacam for about 4 bottles in total every 6 weeks. After he did the bloodwork we went back the next day and based on these results he thought it would best to put her on Tramadol. Something to do with the numbers in her kidneys. However my question is at this point in her life we would just like the very best for her as we cannot possibly know her pain, how much, etc. Her mobility is great, she still goes up and down the stairs but her back legs are a little bit jerky, when you stand behind her on our walk and observe. The vet says she is definitely losing muscle in her back legs so the pain meds will help her immensely. Which one is best? The vet also prescribed for her 375mg Aventiclav to assist with her breath problem and this was great. Hopefully if she were also experiencing some pain in her teeth this would have helped her too. She also gets a chronic ear infection in her right ear something we've just learned to deal and we were given Canaural which works great. He said her heart sounds were good and we should be able to love her and enjoy her for 2 more years, wonderful! The vet also suggested Omega 3 & 6 (haven’t purchased this yet). Gracie also gets 2 GNC ultra mega hip & joint health vitamins, which have 750 mg glucose and 400mg chond. Again, which products should we purchase only from a vet and are there any products we can purchase online such as Amazon local retail stores? Our major concern is which pain medication should we consider for our Gracie, Metacam or Tramadol or other? Also at her age are the regular vaccinations still required? Such as rabies heartworm flea & tick etc. Looking forward to your reply. - Yvonne

Which arthritis medications for dogs have the least harmful effect on the kidneys? Jun 28, 2017

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your question.

It sounds like you have tried many of the treatments that can have a positive effect on the clinical symptoms of arthritis. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, or NSAID, can have side effects on kidney function and it sounds like your veterinarian has identified a problem there. Tramadol is a painkiller that is an opioid, similar to morphine, so it will reduce the pain that Gracie feels, but it will also allow some of the inflammation to continue in the joint which will further degenerate it and it may also cause some sedation. At this point, it’s ideal to consider using multiple treatments to address this problem. When you employ this strategy, it’s more likely that you can use lower doses of each medicine but when used in conjunction, it will still address the condition and reduces the chance of side effects of any one medicine.

I recommend you consider that use of PGAGs, polysulfated glycosaminoglycans. This drug is safe for the kidneys, rarely causes side effects, is very cost effective and can have a positive impact on the arthritis.

I also encourage you to check out our videos on arthritis one of which discusses “Signs of Arthritis in Cats and Dogs & 4 Key Factors to Prevent Any Lameness or Stiffness”, “Alternative Therapy for Pain and Arthritis in Dogs and Cats” as well as article “7 Strategies for Treating Arthritis in Pets” that I hope you find helpful.

All the best,

Dr. Clayton Greenway

Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.

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