Arthritis treatment in dogs

It is very important to start treatment for dog with arthritis as soon as possible. Medical treatment usually includes immunosuppressive drugs, gold salts, and chondroprotective agents. Despite their antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive effects, systemic corticosteroids do not seem to have any effect on the long-term progression of arthritis in people, and the response in dogs is variable. Initially, dog arthritis treatment starts with prednisone and azathioprine. Oral chondroprotective agents (cosequin or glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) are routinely administered. Subjective improvement has also been observed in dogs receiving injectable chondroprotective agents (Adequan).

After 1 month of therapy, the dog is reexamined and synovial fluid is evaluated. If the fluid is noninflammatory, the corticosteroid dose is decreased and treatment with azathioprine is continued. If the fluid is still inflammatory, then daily administration of prednisone and azathioprine continues and methotrexate may be added to treatment. Monthly evaluation of synovial fluid is recommended. If inflammation of the synovial fluid presists after 2 months, additional therapy such as gold salts should be attempted. Toxicity is uncommon in dog arthritis treatment but may include fever, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, dermatitis and stomatitis.

Some therapeutic success may be expected if the dog arthritis treatment is initiated before joint damage is severe. In most cases, however, damage to the articular cartilage is severe before the diagnosis is made. Many dogs require additional therapy to control joint discomfort. Palliative treatment with aspirin and glucosamine has been recommended but the additive gastrointestinal toxicities of corticosteroids must be considered. The concurrent administration of misoprostol can help decrease gastrointestinal adverse effects. Arthritis in dogs is a relentlessly progressive disorder, and even with the appropriate therapy most dogs show deterioration with time. Surgical procedures can occasionally be used to improve joint stability and pain. Synovectomy, arthroplasty, joint replacement, and arthrodesis may decrease painfulness and improve function.