Controlling your dog’s weight
There is compelling evidence that weight gain increases osteoarticular disorders, including osteoarthritis in dogs, and that weight loss can reduce pain and lameness. Excess weight not only increases the stress that “weighs” on the joints, but excess body fat also has an effect on joint inflammation.
Weight loss can be achieved by changing your pet’s diet as well as the amounts you feed him. These must be adapted to your pet’s size, physiological stage and physical activity. It is best to ask your veterinarian for advice on how to achieve weight loss without the risk of starving or deficiency.
You can also read our article on how to put your dog on a diet. He will give you the main principles to follow to help your dog lose weight while preserving his health and well-being.
Conventional and/or natural anti-inflammatory drugs
Anti-inflammatory medications for dogs, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are frequently used to relieve osteoarthritis in dogs. They can improve mobility and quality of life in dogs with osteoarthritis. There are many medications that your veterinarian can prescribe for your dog to help relieve osteoarthritis.
These medications, if used properly, are generally well tolerated by dogs. However, sometimes side effects do occur. They require closer monitoring of the dog by its owner and regular follow-up by a veterinarian.
Always use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with the advice of your veterinarian, and never administer human-formulated drugs to your dog without the advice of your veterinarian: they can cause life-threatening poisoning for your dog.
Herbal bud therapy, or gemmotherapy, is a natural alternative to conventional anti-inflammatory drugs and may also offer good results in the relief of osteoarthritis in dogs. The combination of buds:
of blackcurrant, pine and pubescent birch is useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip,
of blackcurrant, pine, vine and ash is indicated for osteoarthritis of the knee,
of blackcurrant, vine and Virginia creeper with selective action on small joints.
The bud mâcérâts contain alcohol, which is toxic for our pets. Only concentrated bud mâcérâts (containing 10 times less alcohol than macerates) are suitable for veterinary use. In any case, always seek advice from a specialist veterinarian before using them on your pet.
There are also other herbs with anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve arthrosic pain in dogs, such as turmeric, harpagophytum, scrofularia nodosa and boswellia. Always seek the advice of a specialist veterinarian before using them on your dog.
Food and dietary supplements
Dog foods designed to support joint metabolism in osteoarthritis are now commonplace and switching your dog’s regular diet to this type of food may provide your pet with a little extra comfort.
As part of the diet food range, the composition of these kibbles varies depending on the manufacturer. But, overall, they are food:
Rather rich in proteins (and in particular in “good” animal proteins) useful to preserve the muscular mass of the dog,
Rather low in calories for better weight control,
which incorporate in their composition various ingredients or food supplements useful in the management of osteoarthritis.
In addition to these therapeutic foods, there are a large number of dietary supplements that are known to have a beneficial effect on osteoarthritis. These food supplements include, but are not limited to ：
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that have an “anti-inflammatory” action, unlike omega-6s, which are pro-inflammatory. The higher the omega-3 content in a dog’s diet, the less omega-6 available to create more inflammation in and around the joints. Omega-3s thus help slow the progression of osteoarthritis, preserve joint mobility and reduce pain. More specifically, long-chain omega-3s have been shown to be effective in this role, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which come from marine sources.
You can supplement your dog with these omega-3s by giving him capsules of cold sea fish oil. Therapeutic kibbles designed for feeding dogs with arthritis usually already contain it.
Green Mussel Extract
The extract of the green mussel contains both glycosaminoglycans, structural elements of the cartilage, and omega-3. There is some evidence that it has a mild to moderate positive effect on mobility and pain in dogs with osteoarthritis, but the number of studies is still quite limited and its mode of production is critical to its efficacy.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
Glucosamine is a dietary supplement for both humans and animals. It has been shown to help repair joints because it is a building block of joint cartilage made by the body from glucose and an amino acid. However, the question of which concentration is actually effective in relieving osteoarthritis is still debated in the scientific community.
Chondroitin sulphate, often combined with glucosamine in dietary supplements, is extracted from mammalian cartilage and is believed to provide structural components to help repair joint cartilage damaged by osteoarthritis. However, there is currently little evidence of its effectiveness in improving the clinical status of osteoarthritis in dogs.
However, these food supplements remain safe and have no contraindications. It takes several months before there is an effect (if any).
Adjusting the dog’s lifestyle
The adaptation of its environment
Adapting the dog’s living environment by making simple adjustments to your home can help him improve his living comfort and reduce his risk of falling.
A few simple measures can make life easier for your dog suffering from osteoarthritis such as :
Controlled access to steps and stairs
Going up and down stairs can be physically very difficult and dangerous for a dog suffering from osteoarthritis. It is therefore essential to minimize access to your dog and to assist him every time he goes up or down the stairs. To prevent your dog from using the stairs alone, you can place a protective barrier at the entrance.
The stairs can be covered with a non-slip ramp to help your dog climb them more easily.
An orthopedic basket
An orthopaedic dog bed will give your dog better support for his back and relieve pressure on his joints.
Non-slip surfaces for floors
A slippery floor, be it wood or tile, is very dangerous for a dog with arthritis. Repeated slips and falls can greatly aggravate your pet’s pain. To prevent this, consider covering your floors with mats, pieces of carpet, or foamy yoga or children’s mats. Pay particular attention to doorways, bay windows or French windows and make sure that the floor is covered with a non-slip surface on both sides of the passage.
Regulation of physical exercise
It is imperative that a dog suffering from osteoarthritis continue to engage in physical activity in order to preserve muscle mass and slow the progression of the disease. But, of course, physical activity must be reasoned and adapted to his abilities. Thus, it is recommended to offer your dog suffering from osteoarthritis short and regular walks on slightly uneven ground, rather than long walks. Observe your dog on his walks and turn back if he shows difficulty in moving around, if he tends to drag behind you or stumble frequently.
Also, avoid all high-impact physical activities and games such as ball games that involve your dog running or jumping. Replace these activities with more mentally stimulating ones, such as tracking games.
Physiotherapy, physical therapy and hydrotherapy are also low-impact ways to strengthen muscles and maintain joint movement and are considered particularly beneficial.
The use of complementary therapies
Complementary therapies can often be used in conjunction with conventional treatment to relieve a dog with osteoarthritis. They include, but are not limited to:
acupuncture useful in the management of chronic pain and practiced by a growing number of veterinarians specially trained in this ancestral Chinese medicine,laser therapy,osteopathy,
the Tellington TTouch method.
Other veterinary care
In addition to the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, conventional veterinary medicine has a whole therapeutic arsenal to relieve animals suffering from osteoarthritis. Depending on your dog’s condition, your veterinarian can offer you the following:
Intra-articular treatments that consist of injecting anti-inflammatory drugs or hyaluronic acid (to lubricate the joint) directly into the affected joints,
other medications, often derived from opiates, to relieve your pet’s pain,
surgical procedures such as joint arthroplasty, excision arthroplasty or arthrodesis.
There are also promising new therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy is one of them, although it is still in its infancy in the veterinary field.