Monday, December 1, 2014

What To Do For Your Pet with Osteoarthritis

There are so many really good questions that come through And so many that I forget to mention.. You see the problem is that for me they all seem like the routine stuff that I expected everyone knew already. I suppose that when your day is full of exchanging information and educating people that you forget there is a whole world out there who are all asking, or thinking the same questions. Pawbly gives me a reminder to share the information that I know applies to so many.

Here is a question that came in today;
"What helps a dog with arthritis?"

Here is my answer;

"This is a question that I get asked a great deal. In fact I was just reading a few recent publications and articles on this topic because so many people are taking such great care of their pups that they are living longer and longer...sort of the pet equivalent of baby boomers!

My first piece of advice is to make sure that it is truly arthritis.. Your vet can perform a senior examination to look for reluctance to sit, difficulty ambulating, decreased muscle tone in legs, thickened joints, decrease range of motion, etc. It is super important to not confuse this with other diseases that mirror many of the same traits as arthritis; like cancer, Lyme disease, muscle diseases, etc.. I also think that radiographs are very helpful in diagnosing one disease from another in these cases.

After your pet is diagnosed with osteoarthritis there are many things that I recommend. Here are some of my favorites;

  1. Make sure that your pet is at an optimum weight. Every little pound worsens the joints significantly. It also severely impairs mobility. And as your joint disease advances it is imperative to maintain muscle mass.
  2. Try a great senior diet. My favorite is Hills J/D, but there are many good options.
  3. Add Omega-3 fatty acid. I think it helps some of my patients immensely.
  4. Start a glocosamine-chondroitin product. I like Dasaquin.
  5. Get into a strict (diet if needed) exercise plan. Keeping those muscles active and healthy is key to keeping the legs moving.
  6. Ask about a NSAID. They are miracle workers for some dogs. I have actually had clients discussing euthanasia due to inability to ambulate go home try an NSAID and call me the next day that there dog was acting like a puppy again. Some of those dogs have gone on to live another 6-12 months as happy active pain-free pups.
  7. Try acupuncture. I have an associate at my clinic who works wonders with our seniors.
  8. Try an orthopedic bed. So much nicer on the sore bony bodies.
  9. Massage. At the end of a long day a little TLC and rub reminds us that we are special and loved, it also provides important bio-feedback to the brain that the legs are still here and awaiting the next order.
  10. Booties. I got a pair for my old girl and it kept her up and walking for months longer than her little feet could alone.
  11. Harnesses. There are all sorts of devices that help get your pet up, assist with walking and keep their feet under them. Ask your vet,, or me, and I would be happy to pass along a few that have worked for us.
  12. Make their world a little smaller and a whole lot safer. Maybe the walk from the potty area to the bed can be shortened? Maybe you can find a new home base for your dog close to the front door, where the food, water and orthopedic bed can all be stationed so that he doesn't have to overexert himself to keep his necessities at hand?

Lastly, a devoted, patient, and generous parent is the most vital element to helping our seniors age gracefully and happily. Keeping your pet active, pain-free, and leading a life still full of quality days is your job. Be their eyes, ears, chef, physical therapy assistant, and  doting responsible parent. Ask for help from your vet and remember it is all about the quality of the days, never the quantity.

Here is a story of my dog Savannah learning to live with her age related struggles."

Very Best of luck to you both!

The very best part of Pawbly, well, next to it being free of course, is that you can add your pets experiences, your thoughts, and your own words of encouragement and advice to this. Pawbly is about helping other pet people. If you have a pet question please visit all of us at

To find me Tweeting about other pet stuff @FreePetAdvice.

Or visit me at the clinic, open 7 days a week  at Jarrettsville Vet.


  1. Over the years, both with my dogs and cats, I have had Great Success with many products from One of the products is Muscle, Joint, & Arthritis for Dogs (and cats). Just read the reviews from all who have tried them. Along with some conventional meds mentioned in Dr. Magnifico's article, these in most case have no side effects. Ask your Vet, and if they say don't use herbals and don't have an open mind, then get another Vet. This is not the case with Jarrettsville Vet Center.

    Another company I forgot to mention and this one has been excellent for my dogs and horses. They have been around a long time (located in Cockeysville, MD) and one particular product is called "fresh factors". Many years ago, we had a 2 years Yellow Lab. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia (in dogs is the failure of the hip joints to develop normally, known as malformation, gradually deteriorating and leading to loss of function of the hip). X-rays taken, specialist seen, the only recourse was surgery. Then there was no guarantee it would really last that long...maybe a couple of years and would have to be done again. We began to do research of anything else that might help. We came upon Springtime Feed Company (now called Springtime Inc.) located in our backyard a town away. We were told to give her two tablets to chew twice a day, then for several weeks and decrease to one tablet as needed. We noticed an improvement within the first week with her playing and more movement. Then gradually her symptoms improved to as if they went away. This was to good to be true. We took her back to the specialist for a reevaluation and xrays. When the doctor came out he was shocked. He showed us the xrays and her condition was GONE.....I repeat GONE. So the bottom line is please make sure you know ALL your options for your pet.

  2. Do you have any advice re: glucosamine sulfate vs glucosamine hydrochloride? Also, do cats get this and can we treat them with glucosamine?