There are three groups of medication that we rely on to provide relief from arthritis pain: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs), Disease Modifying Osteoarthritic Drugs (DMOADs) and medications that purely relieve pain (Tramadol, Gabapentin, Codeine).
1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories.
These medications are very effective against pain and control inflammation within the joint which slows down the progression of arthritis. They are the mainstay of treatment of arthritis.
NSAIDs are widely used in both people (neurofen is a NSAID) and animals and are generally safe however they do have potential side effects including damage to the kidneys, liver and lining of the stomach. For this reason it is recommended that animals have their liver/kidney function evaluated every 6 months if they are on these medications and a full blood count should be performed annually to ensure that they are not doing more harm than good.
We also recommend that they are always given with food and should there be any vomiting or diarrhea that the medications are stopped and veterinary attention is sought immediately.
These side effects are the reason that we rarely recommend relying on NSAIDs alone for treatment of arthritis. By using DMOADs and/or nutriceuticals we find that we can often reduce the amount of NSAIDs your dog is taking and thus reduce the risk of side effects.
2. Disease Modifying Osteoarthritic Drugs (DMOADs) – Pentosan Polysulfate or Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans
These drugs slow down the degradation of cartilage and support chondrocytes (cartilage producing cells) , promote the production of hyaluronic acid ( a crucial part of the fluid responsible for lubricating joints) and decrease joint inflammation to help relieve pain.
We use Pentosan a lot because it is economical, simple and safe. Most of our clients report significant improvement within 6 weeks of starting this medication and often, in cases of mild arthritis, this drug alone is sufficient to control symptoms.
3. Pain relief medications: Tramadol, Codeine, Gabapentin
These are medications that are used when there is break through pain despite the use of DMOADs or NSAIDs. They provide short term pain relief without any anti-inflammatory action and are safe to use on an ongoing basis.