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Arthritis and Your Pet- Mid South Pet Health

Posted 11.19.12 by Katie Wooden, DVM

Snickers with Dr. Murphy and his laser therapy team.

This sweet boy is a 12 year old Rottweiler mix named Snickers. Like most bigger dogs his age, he suffers from chronic arthritis pain.  Snickers’s owners began to notice that he was very slow to sit down or stand up.  He also seemed very stiff and occasionally had trouble walking on slick floors.  Snickers did not cry or whine, but his owners could tell that he was in pain.

When they initially discussed his condition with Dr. Murphy, he recommended three things:

  • making sure Snickers was at a healthy weight
  • starting him on a joint supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin
  • starting him on a veterinary safe anti-inflammatory.

Snickers did great on this therapy, but as he got older, his owners noticed that his arthritis seemed to be bothering him again. In order to help his arthritis pain, Snickers now gets treatments with our new therapy – laser.  He has been doing great with his laser treatments, and usually takes a nap while his hips and knees are treated. The therapy laser helps reduce the swelling and pain within his joints in order to make him more comfortable and active.

Did you know that arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in both dogs and cats?

Signs of arthritis can include difficulty sitting down or standing up, limping, stiffness, weakness in the back end, muscle loss, and not wanting to play/exercise. While dogs with arthritis may not necessarily yelp or whine, these signs are representative of pain. If you think your pet may be suffering from arthritis, the first thing you should do is discuss it with your veterinarian. A multi-modal approach is best when treating arthritis, which means that several treatments are best.

These may include the following:

Weight Loss

Ensuring  that your pet is a healthy weight is a good first start to managing arthritis. Excess weight will add extra stress to already inflamed and painful joints. Starting your pet on a well-balanced diet, cutting out the people food and extra treats, and increasing their low impact activity, such as walking or swimming should help keep your pet at a healthier weight.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate

Joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are also recommended. Joint supplements are considered to be neutraceuticals rather than drugs, meaning that they are nutritional supplements with medicinal properties.  They are intended to provide the building blocks needed to help repair damaged cartilage. While these supplements can greatly help arthritic patients, they do not produce a rapid response. Most patients must take the supplements for one to two months in order to see results. We recommend the joint supplement Dasuquin, since it has been well-researched and proven to be safe.


Due to the discomfort caused by arthritis, most patients will benefit from an anti-inflammatory. Never give your pet any over the counter human pain medicines!!! Tylenol, Aleve, and ibuprofen are extremely toxic to pets and can cause death. There are several veterinary safe anti-inflammatory products, such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Metacam that can be prescribed by your veterinarian. Some pets may need these products for arthritis flare-ups, while some will benefit from getting them daily. We recommend blood work at least twice a year if your pet takes these drugs in order to evaluate their liver and kidney health.

Laser and Other Types of Therapy

Like Snickers, some pets may have severe arthritis that requires additional therapy. Your vet may recommend additional pain medicines, treatment with Adequan injections (injectable cartilage components), or treatment with a therapy laser. Laser therapy is best done as several treatments over a few weeks until improvement is seen. Contact our office if you think your pet could benefit from laser therapy.


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