My dog is struggling to jump up into the car. What is the best way to help her?
“This depends on your dog’s size, your strength and ability to help, your car and of course how your dog feels about being picked up! Some people do just choose to pick their dog up, but this can be very uncomfortable (even for small dogs!) and especially if they have sore joints. If you are going to do this, it is really important that you learn how to do this properly with your vet or veterinary physiotherapist to reduce the chance of injury to both your dog and to you! This is actually a worthwhile technique to learn anyway, even though you (hopefully) won’t use it very often, just in case you find yourself somewhere without an alternative! However, a much nicer and kinder option is often to find a way to help your dog climb into the car herself, usually with the help of something like a ramp. Ramps need to be introduced carefully with lots of practice with the ramp flat on the ground and then gradually increasing the incline and it is essential that the ramp is appropriate for your dog’s size and weight – a sturdy ramp with a non slip surface is much easier, both physically and in terms of it being a nice experience, than one which bounces and wobbles! Pairing going over the ramp with great rewards like tasty treats can help your dog see it as a fun exercise rather than something to worry about. For very small dogs, another technique that can be very useful, provided it is taught safely (and ideally with the help of a qualified trainer), is to teach your dog to walk into an adapted basket or crate and lie down so you can then lift them in this without putting any real pressure on their joints! Clearly, this isn’t an option if you have a Great Dane! 😉 Whichever method you choose to use, make sure it is safe and focus on one that allows your dog as much choice as possible to get up in her own time, with minimum stress on her joints. “
My dog is already on pain relief for their arthritis, does Laser Therapy replace this?
Laser Therapy is another tool that can be used to help an arthritic dog feel more comfortable. It is important to remember that there are lots of things that can be done together to achieve this and so often Laser Therapy is used alongside medication to aid with analgesia, dependent upon the individual patient, there may be the possibility that the prescribed medication can be reduced, or in some cases stopped altogether, depending on their response to it. This should always be discussed with your vet.
I have heard about something called Laser Therapy being good for my dogs’ arthritis, but how does it work?
The laser machine emits light energy or ‘photons’ into the tissues of the body, these are absorbed into the mitochondria of the cells and causes a chemical change. The light energy promotes the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), this is the energy that cells need for repair and rejuvenation, impaired or injured cells do not make ATP at an optimal rate. The laser promotes blood flow to the treated area, which in turn means there is more oxygen from the blood available to the cells, the oxygen is converted to ATP. This can be useful in cases of arthritis as it helps to reduce inflammation and makes the dog feel more comfortable.
I’ve read on your forum about ‘Undenatured Type II Collagen’ in joint supplements. What is this and should I be giving it to my dog with arthritis?
“Undenatured Type II collagen (UC-II) is extracted from chicken sternum cartilage using a low-heat and minimal processing method so that the collagen remains intact. This intact collagen has been found to have an immunomodulatory effect whereby it reduces the body’s own immune system attack on joint cartilage. In particular UC-II suppresses T-cell mediated inflammation within joints. This helps to slow down joint cartilage damage, and UC-II has been shown to help dogs with moderately severe arthritis. With UC-II, smaller doses have been found to be most effective, with higher doses producing an opposite effect on the body’s immune system. Adhering to dosage guidelines is thus very important. The chronic pain indicator chart and good day/bad day diary available on the CAM website under ‘How CAn can Help: Downloads and Resources’ page can help you to monitor the effect of any supplement or other intervention on your dog’s individual pain pattern. We generally recommend that supplements are trialled and monitored for 3 months to assess how helpful they will be for an individual. “
My dog has been put on a joint supplement by her vet that contains ASU. What is this, and how does it help arthritis?
ASU stands for Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables. This is a plant extract comprised of one-third avocado oil and two-thirds soybean oil. ASU has been used safely and effectively in the treatment of osteoarthritis in humans for a number of years. Studies are also showing benefits for our canine arthritis patients, including early on in the disease process. ASU has been shown to work through both anticatabolic (preventing breakdown) and anabolic (promoting build up and repair) effects on joint cartilage by affecting a number of key mediators of structural joint changes that occur in osteoarthritis. ASU also increases chondroprotective (cartilage-protecting) factors within synovial (joint) fluid. In human studies ASU clinically reduces joint stiffness and pain. The effects of ASU in the body are delayed in onset and a ‘loading period’ of 4-6 weeks treatment at a higher dose is needed for ASU to reach beneficial levels in the body. As with all supplements we recommend that you seek veterinary advice and supervision, and monitor your dog’s pain pattern to assess the effect of any supplement over time. Resources to help you can be found on the CAM website under ‘How CAM can help: Downloads and Resources.’
Could Omega 3 oils help my dog with his arthritis?
“The simple answer is yes, quite possibly, and it is important which formulations of omega 3 oils you choose. Omega 3 essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body and must be acquired through diet. It has been shown that the omega 3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are well absorbed through dietary supplementation, and that increased concentrations of these omega 3 fatty acids result in a decrease in omega 6 fatty acid concentrations in body tissues. When inflammatory mediators are produced from EPA and DHA instead of omega 6 fatty acids they appear to produce a less severe inflammatory response within the body. Studies have shown improved weight bearing and ability to perform daily living activities in dogs with osteoarthritis, especially in the short term. Bristol University Veterinary School is currently undertaking a study to determine the effects of DHA supplementation on pain levels and quality of life in dogs with arthritis. The caveat with Omega 3 supplementation is that the source of Omega EPA and DHA needs to be from a coldwater marine species, in particular cold water fish, in order to be effective. Plant based sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed or walnut oil, are not as available to the body as marine sources. Plant based omega 3 oils are also generally available in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) rather than EPA and DHA. As always, we recommend that all supplements be used under veterinary advice and supervision. Dietary supplements form one small part of a multimodal approach to arthritis management and it is important to get to know your individual dog’s pain pattern and monitor the effects of any intervention over time so that you can find the combination of treatments that work best for your dog. “
Do I need my Vets permission before trying complementary therapy?
“Yes – any complementary therapist will ask for a signed consent form from your Veterinary Surgeon as not only does it allow us to see what condition we are dealing with (there may be a contraindication for that therapies usage) but it is illegal to carry out manipulative therapy without it (the exception here being acupuncture). We as therapists adhere to the Veterinary Surgeons 1966 and Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015 protecting animals being given treatment by any unqualified person. Any therapist working with animals have a duty of care to provide the most appropriate treatment where possible, not allow suffering and keep up to date with training and knowledge”
What other options are available for my Arthritic dog?
“Once your dog has been diagnosed by your Veterinary surgeon there are a range of complementary therapies available to provide them with the best possible quality of life whilst being used in conjunction with traditional Veterinary medicine, it is worth noting that some therapies may not be suitable for your dog so choose carefully. These include:
My dog normally goes to "doggy day care" a few times a week. Can he still do this?
This may depend on where your dog is painful, how painful they are and what type of activities they do while at a day care centre. The worry would be that younger, bouncy, more mobile dogs will jump onto or run into painful areas making them more sore and inflamed. If it is a day care centre where the dogs are left to run in a large field-type area together you may find your dog will do more activity than they perhaps should do and will suffer for it the next day. On the other hand, if your dog can be kept away from some of the more bouncy friends he has made there and can have some quiet time perhaps playing with puzzle toys or doing nose work, then a day care centre might be a good way of providing mental stimulation for him and we know that this can help to reduce perceived levels of pain. I would discuss carefully what facilities your day care centre have for dogs with arthritis and what activities they will tend to do while there. For example ask the, what beds they provide, what type of flooring your dog will have to contend with or if there are steps he will have to use. It may be that some centres are more equipped than others for senior or arthritic dogs so ask around at a few places to find one you are happy with.
My friends dog is on Metacam for her arthritis but my vet has prescribed my dog Onsior. It seems to be working but why have I been given this rather than the other drug?
Both of these drugs fall into the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. There are 4 or 5 very commonly used drugs in this category, which are given once a day, and one which is given monthly, and all work in the same way. The safety of all the drugs is very similar and possible side effects are the same. The biggest difference is the formulation of the drug (liquid vs tablets) and whether they are given with or without food. The drug your vet picks as first line may depend on their own experience of the different drugs, which they have available in their clinic and which one they feel your dog is most likely to take! If one drug doesn’t seem to work for your dog then another may do so if you find you are struggling with the drug your vet has prescribed first ask them about perhaps trying something different.
What does Galen Myotherapy treatment entail?
Initially we will take a thorough case history, including details of any previous accidents, injuries and/or surgery, existing conditions, exercise regime, lifestyle and indicators (of possible pain or muscular issues). This helps us identify areas that can be improved upon, and provide you with as much advice possible (within our remit). Therapists ALWAYS work with your vet’s consent (this is a legal requirement) and are fully insured. We treat your dog with utmost empathy and respect, allowing them choice throughout the treatment, and do not use restraint (including muzzles). Therapists are highly trained in canine anatomy and movement, and pain related behaviour. Our aim is to empower and involve you in your dog’s treatment plan with knowledge and techniques to use at home between Myotherapy treatments. We will liaise closely with your vet, hydrotherapist, physiotherapist etc. to ensure a multimodal team approach is followed and the best care for your dog achieved, and review your dog’s response to treatment regularly, modifying their treatment plan as appropriate.
How can Galen Myotherapy help my arthritic dog?
Galen Myotherapy treatment involves the use of appropriate, effective and targeted specialised massage techniques to treat chronic muscular adaptive change (compensation), pain and inflammation, which becomes so intrinsic to the arthritic scenario, and cause huge postural and pain issues for dogs. As such, the therapy can provide a highly effective tool in the ongoing management of your dog’s arthritis. By treating muscle pain, i.e the muscular effects of arthritis, we see improvements in dogs’ behaviour, mobility and quality of life.
My dog has arthritis, Is there any point exercising them now?
Exercising our arthritic dogs can be daunting and a bit of a balancing act initially as if we over exercise them we cause pain and discomfort, but if we just leave them and don’t exercise them we can make the joints more uncomfortable and degenerate quicker. Exercise is important for our arthritic pets, not just for mental stimulation but by staying fit and active you will keep your dogs muscles strong and conditioned as well as ensuring that their circulation to those sore joints is at it optimum capacity. If we reduce or cut out the exercise we will make those joints worse, causing the condition to deteriorate and the joints to quite quickly become more stuff and uncomfortable. When it comes to setting up exercises and appropriate plans we would always advise consulting your vet and a veterinary physiotherapist who will implement and over see these plans. This is to ensure that those exercises used are appropriate to the patient and that plans are altered when necessary.
I'm interested in trying out physiotherapy for my dog but I feel that maybe I should just accept these changes are part of old age...
Absolutely not! A multimodal approach which includes physiotherapy as well as sensible husbandry management, weight control and the implementation of a suitable controlled exercise program can not only stop the progression but in some cases can actually reverse the symptoms that we see in our arthritic pets. A veterinary physiotherapist will work with your vet to establish the best plan to help you improve your pets quality of life.
I want to try physiotherapy for my dog but I don't think my vet will agree, can I just arrange an appointment without my vet?
Physiotherapy can be useful in most animals to help maintain fitness and muscle mass and also for the management of chronic conditions such as arthritis. The use of therapies must be discussed carefully with your vet before commencing. This is not only a legal requirement but it is also to avoid making painful joints worse. We always advise that you discuss complementary therapies with your vet prior to arranging appointments.
What do veterinary surgeons think of physiotherapy?
The majority of vets are generally extremely positive about physiotherapy. This is because they have seen the success which can be achieved when an animal receives this form of treatment. When a vet considers that an animal could benefit from physiotherapy, they will be more than happy to refer the case to a physiotherapist. One common reason I find for vets not referring is that they do not know of any specific veterinary physiotherapists in their area so can be reluctant to offer suggestions. The key is to source one yourself and discuss with your vet as they will need to refer the patient for treatment – this is a legal requirement for all therapists that treat your pets.
My dog has been on the same NSAID for a long time and recently we went to the vet because he was not doing so well. They took a blood sample and found his kidney values were higher than they should be so have advised us to taken him off his pain relief. But I know he is in pain. What can I do?
We have no real evidence to suggest the NSAIDs damage the kidneys when used at the correct dose, however, it is possible they may do harm if the kidneys have become less effective through other diseases or causes. This is why vets are cautious about using NSAIDs if blood tests reveal a sub-optimal kidney function. There is a veterinary version of paracetamol available and this can be surprisingly effective (paracetamol must never be given to cats). Your vet is also allowed to prescribe medications licenced for use in people if the veterinary medication is unsuitable. Depending on their experience some vets may want to consult the knowledge of a specialist for advise on the best medication option. It is very dangerous to give your pet your own pain killers as they may respond differently and require a different dose. Pain relief is about more than just pills. There are lots of other ways to relieve pain. These may include: making household adaptations (putting non-slip rugs on slippery floors, removing trip hazards, providing steps onto high surfaces such as the sofa or back of the car, raising food bowls) or adjusting exercise regimes to avoid excessive strain whilst maintaining mobility. It is very important to maintain a lean body condition, avoiding excess weight. This has been shown to delay the onset of signs of arthritis. Not only does carrying excess weight represent physical strain on the joints, fat tissue is actually driving an inflammatory process in the body and may speed up the process of arthritis. You may consult a veterinary physiotherapist for a course of treatment where you will also learn a lot about how to help your pet. Other therapies include acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy (with a trained therapist), laser and ultrasound therapy, heat therapy. This list is not exhaustive. We have some evidence that certain supplements, such as omega-3 fish oils, may reduce pain and inflammation. Finally, there may be surgical options to resolve or reduce pain. Speak to your vet about the options available to you.
My vet has diagnosed significant arthritic changes in many my dog’s joints. Due to the multiple locations of arthritis, he has prescribed long term use of NSAIDs, but are they safe?
Each drug is rigorously tested for toxicity and adverse reactions before being given a ‘licence’ for market by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Furthermore, we have a lot of experience of using these drugs and the benefits and risks involved. The nature of the way NSAIDs work involves interrupting the body’s metabolic pathways which cause inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, these same physiological processes are needed by the body to perform other tasks such as renewing cells in organs such as the stomach, intestines and kidneys. Much research has been done to develop the safer NSAIDs which we now have available but all have potential to cause side effects, though they are thankfully rare. It is impossible to predict if your dog may be the one to have a problem such as a gastric ulcer. However, it is important to carefully follow the dosing advice given on the label and the medication should come with an information leaflet. This gives specific instructions, for example – to give with food (this is not the case for every NSAID) and warning you of what signs to look out for, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, and to stop the medication and seek the advice of your vet if this occurs. We have no real evidence to suggest the NSAIDs damage the kidneys when used at the correct dose, however, it is possible they may do harm if the kidneys have become less effective through other diseases or causes. This is why vets are cautious about using NSAIDs if blood tests reveal a sub-optimal kidney function. One of the other things your vet will discuss with you is finding a balance between a good quality of life for your pet and avoiding what seems to be a small risk. It is right that we should avoid unnecessary medication and this may include making changes to the way you exercise your dog, avoiding household hazards which cause repetitive injury such as slippery floors, jumping and tripping, or using supplements and complementary therapies in a treatment regime. However, if your dog is in pain his quality of life may be compromised and we need to be careful not to be so concerned about safety that we insist on our pets living out a life of pain.
My dog has painful arthritis in both his knees, and he is only 8 years old and I have been advised that I need x-rays? Is this necessary?
Whilst it is possible to start treatment without x-rays there are several reasons why your vet may want to obtain this imaging of the joints to confirm a diagnosis and stage the disease. Your vet will want to rule out other causes of pain including abnormalities such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture for which surgery may be an important choice. Whilst your dog is under sedation or anaesthetic for x-rays, your vet can carry out some diagnostic examinations which are difficult or impossible to do in an awake dog. There are a few options for treatment other than simply using medication and some of these require a deeper understanding of how the joints are effected. For example, with physiotherapy some exercises may be especially useful or conversely, important to avoid depending on the condition. It may be possible to directly medicate the joint by injecting with regenerative therapies such as platelet-rich-plasma or stem cells. This requires knowledge about the condition of the joint.
I’m scared to take my dog to the vet as they are old and I don’t know what the vet will say to me, what if they want to put him to sleep?
There are very few instances where euthanasia is the only option and even fewer where it would need to be done there and then, without any time for you to say goodbye. We know that speaking with your vet can be nerve racking but we promise we are here to help and work with you to get the best treatment plan for you and your dog. If you’re worried about forgetting what you wanted to say then why not write it down or take a friend or relative along with you. You can even take a note pad and jot down what the vet tells you as you go along. Trust me, we’ve seen it all before and honestly don’t mind. You could always ask to speak with a veterinary nurse if your not sure that your dog needs to be seen by a vet and they can advise you as to what to do as the next steps
Will my pet insurance help cover the cost of my dogs arthritis treatment?
Probably yes, but it will depend on your insurance company and the type of policy you have with them. Where possible we would advise taking out a lifetime policy as any condition your pet develops, including arthritis will be cover for their whole life. Some companies will even pay out complimentary therapies such as hydrotherapy or acupuncture. The best thing to do is call your insurance company and ask them if they will help cover costs and how to make a claim. Most vets, nurses and receptionists deal with insurance companies every week so ask at your practice as they may be able to guide you too.
My dog is slowing down. He's just getting old isn't he?
Slowing down and getting old should not be just accepted as simply that. It is also not just arthritis that causes your dog to slow as he ages. Slowing down could be related to: Pain elsewhere such as spinal, or spinal nerves. Lethargy due heart or lung disease. Poor coordination and weakness from a neurological disease. Lack of energy due to hormonal disease or cancer.
It is essential to get a diagnosis from your vet, which minimally requires a clinical examination, a neurological and orthopaedic exam, and ideally imaging plus urine and blood testing.
If your dog is slowing down, do not just presume he has arthritis, and seek veterinary attention.
What is the best harness for my arthritic dog?
We don’t have a number one harness that we recommend at the moment, but here are a few things that we suggest you look for when purchasing one for your dog.
Ensure a good fit – many harnesses are ill fitting and actually impede your dog’s mobility. The harness should allow free movement but fit snugly without rubbing. Fleece lined harnesses help to avoid this.
Consider your dog’s arthritic joints. For example a dog with elbow arthritis will find it painful to have their forelimbs lifted up and through a harness when it is put on. Think about one that secures without having to bend the legs.
Consider a handle. There are a few harnesses on the market that have a handle on the back. This allows you to support your dog over rough terrain, or take some of their weight as they climb hills or steps for example. Handles get more useful as the disease progresses.
We have previously tried and tested some harnesses. See our product blogs for more info.
My dog is young but is less inclined to walk, and limps occasionally. Could this be arthritis?
Yes sadly it could be arthritis, however there are many other conditions it could also be, so it is important that you consult your vet, have a thorough examination and take their advice if they feel further investigation is needed such as x-rays. If it was early onset arthritis it is likely secondary, which means it is developing due to another reason rather than simple wear and tear seen with ageing. This may be a developmental issue where your dog’s joints has not grown to perfectly fit and are unstable. Or due to trauma to the joint structure. Other causes may be your dogs own immune system attacking its joint, or it may be due to an infection within the joint. As you can see there are many possible causes that lead to the osteoarthritis. Thus, it is important to identify the joint/ joints affected, the underlying cause and treat appropriately. This may involve simple lifestyle changes, supplements and regular further check- ups. Or it may lead to the identification of an underlying cause that requires more complex investigation and potentially surgery. Whatever the cause, ignoring the condition could end to an early onset painful poor functioning joint and a significantly less optimal long-term outcome.
Firstly there is no overall superior anti inflammatory. There are many available in the non steroidal anti inflammatory drug family, but none can be classified as superior, at this stage we can only suggest they all work slightly differently. Secondly, when choosing an anti inflammatory it is imperative that you work with your vet to minimise the risks of potential side effects. Studies have shown that common causes of the side effects are not related to the drug itself but the frequency of administration, the amount administered, co-morbidities that affect the action and disposal of the drug, as well as co-administering contraindicated medications. CAM strongly recommends you discuss with your vet what anti inflammatories are available to you. How to use them safely and effectively, and how to monitor for effect and the early signs of potential side effects.
My dog was diagnosed with arthritis last year and since finding this site I would like to take her to a physiotherapist or for hydrotherapy but my vet won't refer us as he doesn't believe it works. What can I do as nowhere will see her without a vet referral?
There are a couple of options here, some easier than others! Firstly, and ideally, you could talk to your vet about complementary therapies, why you think physiotherapy and hydrotherapy would benefit your dog and that you would only go to a registered therapist. Another route is to try another vet within the practice as not all vets in the same practice share the same opinion but equally some vets won’t see a colleagues patient. As a last resort you could look to change vets, look for one that maybe offers alternative treatments like acupuncture or that a friend has recommended. You can always ring and ask the receptionists if they refer for these sort of things or speak with the therapist you are thinking of going to see to find out if they have a good relationship with this veterinary practice. Remember, she is your dog, you have to be happy with the treatment she is getting.
My friend has recommended I try physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for my old arthritic boy but I don't see how they will help? I also have no idea how I go about finding somewhere to take him.
There are multiple benefits to these treatments on their own but they also work really well when they are used together. Physiotherapy will help to pinpoint the specific areas of discomfort, muscle tension spots and secondary compensations (tight spots elsewhere because of how the dog is now walking/standing/compensating). The physiotherapist can also offer alternative pain relief options such as laser therapy, ultrasound and massage and they can then provide specific exercise plans for you to do at home which will try and maintain your dog’s muscle and joint range of movement. Once sufficient pain relief is in place hydrotherapy will also help to encourage improved range of motion in the joints (by using warm water to help “loosen” any stiff joints) and an improved muscle mass to help support the joints (The resistance of the water helps the dog build up muscle mass while in a easier environment due to the buoyancy of the water meaning there is less impact through the joint). This will help correct any gait abnormalities that have developed. It is important to remember though that all of this should be part of a multi-modal approach to managing arthritis, none of it will fix the condition.
When looking where to go your vet is likely to be able to suggest somewhere, but if not there are a few things to look for. For hydrotherapy you want to make sure the Centre and therapist is registered with either the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA) or National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists (NARCH). This is because it is an unregulated industry so anyone can set up a hydrotherapy centre but these associations ensure the therapists are suitably qualified. They also have to undergo annual CPD (courses to keep them up to date) and the Centres themselves are checked, in terms of hygiene, record keeping etc. Furthermore, these Centres are the only ones that an insurance company will recognise. When looking for a physiotherapist you want to make sure they have a suitable qualification, such as being ACPAT or IRVAP registered. This is to ensure they are using recognised techniques and keep up to date with the best treatment options.
My dog has been on his medication for a long time and I know he is fine but the vet insists on seeing him every 3 months and doing blood tests on him at least once a year - are they just trying to make money out of me?
The simple answer is no. Under the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons code of professional conduct vets are only allowed to prescribe medication to animals under their care which means they need to have been seen recently or often enough for the vet to “have personal knowledge of the condition of the animal”. These check ups are a great opportunity to check your dog’s weight which if it has dramatically changed might mean they need more or less medication or a new diet plan needs to be implemented. It also enables the vet to check for other conditions that might impact on the arthritis (such as lumps near joints) or are more common in older patients. A detailed discussion on how they are getting on in everyday life, along with gentle joint manipulation might also flag up that they need a change in their medication protocol (adding in new drugs or stopping some of the current drugs). For some of the drugs, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the product data sheet states that regular blood tests need to be done to monitor liver/kidney values as the earlier changes in these are detected the better – there is another question on this page that addresses this in more detail.
My vet wants to add in a human drug to my dog’s medication protocol - can they do this? Is it safe?
In the UK this is allowed, if there is no suitable veterinary medicine available to treat the condition, under what is known as the cascade. This means the vet has to first use a drug that is licensed for use in another animal species for that condition or for a different condition in the same species. If there is still no product available then they can use a medicine licensed for human use. The side effects of these drugs will vary depending on the drug but this is no different from veterinary products and should be discussed with your vet.
Is there a way to get the drugs any cheaper than from the vet as I can’t afford to keep paying for them at this cost?
All vets are obliged to offer you a written prescription to enable you to obtain the medication from elsewhere such as an online pharmacy but there is often a cost involved with this. If you are struggling to afford the cost of your dog’s medication it is always worth talking to your vet as they may be able to suggest alternative options.
If my dog has medication he feels better and wants to do more which I have been told will only make his arthritis worse in the long term, so isn’t it better he feels some discomfort so he doesn’t want to do as much and to then just use the pain relief if he does do too much?
The Animal Welfare Act 2007 lists five freedoms which are your responsibility when caring for a pet. The most relevant is “Freedom from pain, injury and disease” but three of the other freedoms are also relevant when thinking about the answer to this question – Freedom from discomfort, freedom to behave normally and freedom from fear and distress. It is much better to manage your dog’s desire to do more when they are less painful (hopefully pain free) by giving them alternative activities to do (such as snuffle mats, kongs, hide and seek etc) than to leave them painful. Furthermore, it is very important that joints are kept moving and muscles are strengthened through use, but in a controlled way. Arthritic dogs are not candidates to be “weekend warriors” – where they are asked do lots more exercise at the weekends compared to during the week. They may then struggle the following day are more likely to have done more damage to their joints thus progressing the arthritis quicker. See elsewhere on this site and the Facebook page for more ideas on low impact activities for your arthritic dog.