Idiopathic Issues

Follow Us

7 Tips for Osteoarthritis Management in the Dog

Posted by Jessica Gramlich on Nov 23, 2015 9:56:00 AM

VP-olddog.jpgI love old dogs.  I think they are so precious.  They are often some of my favorite patients.  There is nothing harder than saying good by to a geriatric patient due to ambulatory issues.  There are so many ways that we can help to manage osteoarthritis and it is important to get the owners involved with the plan.  

Weight Management

Keeping a pet trim helps to decrease the stress applied to the affected joints as well as decreasing inflammatory mediators released by fat cells.  It seems like an easy enough task, but weight loss can be very elusive.  Owners love their pets with food and unfortunately it can be hard to convince them of the downfall of obesity in their painful love ones.  There are special diets available for joint health and weight management if owners are able to change the diet. 


There certainly is debate about these medications. Is it a placebo effect or do they actually help? Some patients seem to respond very well while others show a more moderate response.  Glucosamine/chondroitin, Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation, and perna mussel medications have been used to help alleviate joint pain.

Movement- Physical therapy

It sounds counterintuitive to some owners that exercise helps with arthritis, but low impact activity can help keep the patient’s muscles strong and the joints more lubricated.  Taking your pet to a physical therapist for directed treatments using underwater treadmills and targeted exercises can help keep a pet stronger for longer.  If PT isn’t a possibility in your area, then encourage owners to take the pet on multiple short leash walks and to take the pet swimming.  In trying to make the world easier and more comfortable for your dog, always try to make sure there is good footing and comfortable bedding.  Yoga mat material can be laid down for traction, you can even buy grip booties to help your dog stand on slippery floors.  After a good dose of exercise make sure there are cushioned beds to allow your dog to lay comfortable and avoid pressure sores.

Pain management

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have traditionally been the mainstay of osteoarthritis management.   These medications can make a huge difference in the quality of life for our patients.  They can work miracles.  Unfortunately they can have side effects and these patients need to be monitored very closely.  There are alternative opiate based pain medications and the efficacy varies from patient to patient.  Often times when used in combination with an NSAID a happy balance can be made with pain management.


Acupuncture can be very beneficial for certain pets.  The expertly placed needles can stimulate anti-inflammatory mediators, promote healthy muscles and the release of pain relieving neurotransmitters.  Despite the scary needles, acupuncture is relatively painless although it does take a certain pet personality to be able to sit still for treatments.  

By using a multimodal approach to arthritis management we can improve the quality of life for our patients.  It’s so tragic to have that euthanasia appointment because the dog is “getting old.”  By working together with our clients we can help to make our patients more comfortable for a longer period of time.

How to Land Your Dream Job

How to find your Vet Dream JobThey say getting in is the hardest part.

“They” don’t know how challenging vet school can be.

But you are in the middle of it and you know that it is very difficult; lots of late nights studying, worrying about your patients, mountains of debt, a giant board exam to pass prior to graduation and then, oh yeah, I guess you should think about getting a job too.

We put together a list of what you should be considering when looking for that DREAM JOB:

  • Know what Employers are Seeking in a Vet
  • The Top Tips for Finding a Job
  • Tips for the Interview
  • ...and more!

Download Dream Job Guide  How to Land Your Dream Job after Vet School

Topics: osteoarthritis

Subscribe to our Blog!

Most Popular Posts

Posts by Topic

see all