Additional Treatment Options Offer Hope to Dogs With Osteoarthritis Pain
What causes osteoarthritis?OA typically develops secondary to an orthopedic disease process, such as hip or elbow dysplasia, that interferes with a joint’s normal mechanics. When joint surfaces do not line up properly, or weight distribution is uneven, the cartilage covering the joint surfaces can begin to degenerate. Over time, the synovial membrane lining the joint cavity becomes inflamed and thickened, cartilage damage becomes irreversible, and the bones can become misshapen as they try to support the unstable joint. Unfortunately, OA is a lifelong condition, and can progress to the point of causing significant debilitation of affected joints.
How can I tell if my dog is suffering from osteoarthritis pain?Many dogs suffering from OA pain are not treated, as owners often attribute decreases in activity or playfulness to old age. Although pets may sleep more and become less active with age, any change in activity level should raise a red flag, and warrants a veterinary evaluation. Unfortunately, OA-related activity changes often occur gradually, and owners may not notice that their pet no longer plays and runs as they once did. Signs that may indicate your dog is experiencing OA pain include:
- Difficulty rising
- Exercising only in short spurts
- Hesitation or refusal to jump onto furniture or go up and down stairs
- Limping or lameness
What additional treatment options are available for dogs with OA?The good news is that OA treatment is not limited to one option, and if your dog is painful despite treatment, other therapies can often be added to the treatment plan, or may replace the current treatment. OA treatment options generally fall into four categories:
- Pharmaceutical management — Mild to moderate OA is often treated with pain and antiinflammatory medications, such as NSAIDs (e.g., carprofen). Pain medications target pain receptors in your pet’s brain so they do not detect pain signals, but they do not resolve the underlying inflammatory joint condition. NSAID therapy can be administered long-term to provide ongoing relief of pain and inflammation, but may cause a host of significant side effects, including gastrointestinal irritation and ulceration, and liver or kidney damage. Pain medications and NSAIDs are best used for treating short-term inflammation and pain, rather than chronic conditions.
- Surgical management — Moderate to severe OA caused by diseases such as hip or elbow dysplasia is often best managed with surgical treatment options such as joint replacement. Although curative, joint replacements are currently limited to the hips, elbows, knees, and ankles. If your pet’s OA affects other joints, surgical treatment may not be an option.
- Synovetin OA — Synovetin OA, one of the newest options available at GCVS for OA treatment, can be injected into a pet’s arthritic joint, with a single injection providing pain relief for up to one year. This novel injection stays in the joint and affects only intra-articular cells and tissues, providing targeted, precise anti-inflammatory therapy, with no local or systemic side effects expected. Synovetin OA is a groundbreaking new therapy that may help your pet get back on their feet again if other OA treatments have not provided adequate pain relief. GCVS is proud to be one of only three Texas veterinary hospitals to offer Synovetin OA as a treatment option for arthritic dogs.
- Alternative therapies — Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, laser therapy, and therapeutic exercises, can often be used in conjunction with other OA treatments as part of a multimodal treatment plan to best manage your pet’s OA pain.