Nutraceuticals and Pharmaceuticals Used to Manage Arthritis

When it comes to treating arthritis, we rely on both pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.

Pharmaceuticals are definitely the heavy hitters - providing relible, effective and usually rapid pain relief. However, they are not without side effects and NSAIDs in particular can be problematic in some patients, especially if used at high doses over a long period of time.

By incorporating nutraceuticals into our regime we not only aim to slow the progression of arthritis but also to reduce our reliance on pharmaceuticals (especially NSAIDs) and reduce the risk of side effects.

So, the quandary is not whether to use nutraceuticals but which one. There is a plethora of products available, all claiming to have amazing benefits. Unfortunately few have reasonable (by which we mean unbiased and qualitative) research to support these claims. Below we outline 3 nutraceuticals that not only have strong anecdotal evidence but also reasonable research to back them.


A compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug.

There are three categories of drugs used to manage arthritis. I have listed them here in the order that I would usually recommend them.

1) Disease Modifying Osteoarthritic Drugs (DMOADs) such as polysulfated glycosaminoglycan and pentosan polysulfate. These drugs slow down the degradation of cartilage and support the biosynthetic functions of chondrocytes (cartilage producing cells). They also promote the synthesis of macromolecular hyaluronic acid (a crucial part of lubricating joint fluid) and decrease synovial inflammation to help relieve pain.We use pentosan polysulfate at Taringa Vets as it is much more economical than polysulfated glycosaminoglycans. We recommend starting this medication early on in the course of the disease as it is convenient, economical and very 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.

2) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are the second group of medications that we reach for when dealing with arthritic animals. These medications provide good pain relief and help to reduce cartilage degradation by controlling inflammation within the joint. These medications are widely used and are generally safe but they do have potential side effects including kidney and liver damage and damage to the lining of the stomach. For this reason we recommend that all animals have their liver/kidney function evaluated prior to starting these medications and annually there-after (we can do this via an in house blood test). 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.

3) Pure pain relief medications: These are medications that are used when there is break through pain despite the use of DMOADs or NSAIDs. They include tramadol, codeine and gabapentin.

(*NB tramadol, codeine and gabapentin are all medications that are used for humans as well as animals. If you have these medications at home DO NOT be tempted to administer them to your pet as the dosages for dogs and cats are very different to those for humans. Another risk is that they may be combined with other medictions which may not be appropriate for your pet. A key example of this is the combination of codein and paracetamol - even the tiniest amount of paracetamol will kill a cat!)


Any food based product with benefits above and beyond their nutritional value.

  1. Mobility diets such as Hills JD, Hills Metabolic Mobility or Royal Canin Mobility.

These diets are formulated by veterinarians and nutritionalists and incorporate a wide range of products to manage arthritis. The studies that support their efficacy are the most robust and reliable of all the studies into neutraceuticals.

  1. Fish oils

Fish oils are beneficial because of the omega 3s, 9s and sometimes 6s that they contain. They too have good evidence to support their claims of efficacy however (and this is a very salient point) they must be given at adequate doses - administering 1 or 2 capsules per day will do very little for osteoarthritic pain (though it will improve their coat!).

  1. Antinol

This is extracted from green-lipped mussels. The extraction process not only produces a product that is high in omega 3s but it also contains multiple other unique polyunsaturated fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory actions. As a result the anti-inflammatory effects produced by antinol are higher than one would expect from their omega 3 content. This makes for a much more reasonable dosing schedule than that of fish oils.

A wonderful feature of Antinol is that it comes with a money back guarantee - for both efficacy and palatability!

(NB at this point in time Antinol is not registered for use in cats in Australia. It is, however, registered for use in cats in America and Japan. If you are interested in this product for your cat please make an appointment to see us and we can talk you through it.)

#cartrophen #pentosan #nutraceuticals #antinol #jd #metabolic #mobility #nsaids #metacam #tramadol #codein #gabapentin #arthritis #painrelief

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