Canine osteoarthritis (AKA arthritis or degenerative joint disease) is a chronic, progressive disease that will affect 20-40% of dogs at some point during their lives. While canine osteoarthritis has no cure, treatments can reduce symptoms and slow its progression. Now, with the recent release of FDA-approved Librela, we have more options than ever to help dogs with arthritis live happier, healthier lives!
What Is Canine Osteoarthritis?
Canine osteoarthritis (osteo: bone; arthr: joint; itis: inflammation) is painful inflammation caused by the deterioration of cartilage around the joints. In a healthy joint, the ends of the bones are covered in a smooth, slippery tissue called cartilage. Cartilage pads bones and helps them move easily.
With osteoarthritis, this cartilage breaks down, becomes rough, or wears away. Without that protective cartilage, bones may rub together. This causes inflammation, pain, and even structural changes to the bones around the joint.
What Causes Canine Osteoarthritis?
It’s tough to pinpoint just one cause of canine osteoarthritis. What we know is that many factors can contribute to its development. For some dogs, it's likely a genetic condition. A few other known risk factors include:
Though canine osteoarthritis can impact dogs of every breed and size, it’s more common in large-breed dogs. German shepherds, golden retrievers, labs, and rottweilers are commonly diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Obesity also contributes significantly to the development of arthritis, as it increases pressure and strain on the joints.
Osteoarthritis Symptoms in Dogs
The symptoms will depend on how severe your dog’s osteoarthritis is and which joints are affected. Some signs to watch out for include:
Treatment Options for Dogs with Osteoarthritis Pain
While osteoarthritis isn’t curable, treatments are available to help manage pain, inflammation, and other symptoms. These treatments aim to slow the disease’s progression and keep dogs moving comfortably.
These recommendations depend on your pet’s breed, age, health history, and weight. Suppose your dog is carrying around some extra weight. In that case, your veterinarian may recommend changing their diet and increasing their activity to alleviate excess pressure on the joints.
It can also be helpful to have plenty of non-slip surfaces, such as yoga mats and rugs, to protect pets against slipping and falling incidents. A ramp or stairs might be recommended for dogs having difficulty getting on and off furniture or into/out of the car.
Low impact exercises such as swimming, water treadmills, and range of motion exercises can help dogs with arthritis maintain muscle mass and stay active without putting too much stress on damaged joints. Other treatments for osteoarthritis pain include laser therapy, acupuncture, and massage.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the primary medications used to help relieve dogs’ arthritis pain. They work quickly to relieve pain, but must be given at regular intervals to be effective. NSAIDs also have the potential to impact your dog’s liver and kidneys. Because of this, routine blood work for dogs who are taking NSAIDs long-term is required.
Supplements like glucosamine chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids can support joint health and alleviate pain/inflammation symptoms alongside other therapies. Specific, veterinary-recommended diets can also help support bone and joint health.
Introducing Librela: A First of Its Kind Treatment for Canine Osteoarthritis Pain
A few months ago, we spotlighted Solensia, a new treatment for feline arthritis pain. This year, Zoetis released a monthly injectable to help effectively control dog’s arthritis pain.
Librela works differently from other pain medications. Its unique mode of action targets something called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is specific to osteoarthritis pain. In two separate studies, monthly injections improved dogs’ mobility and overall quality of life compared to dogs that received a placebo. Best of all, Librela is metabolized and eliminated without negatively impacting the liver and kidneys.
We’re very excited to offer this groundbreaking treatment option to our canine patients with osteoarthritis. We hope that one easy, monthly visit to the clinic can make managing osteoarthritis easier for both patients and their people.
Making Canine Osteoarthritis More Manageable!
While canine osteoarthritis is not a curable condition, you can work with your veterinary care team to help your dog move better and experience less pain. It all starts with an appointment to assess your dog’s condition and get them started on a sustainable pain management program. Want to learn more about canine osteoarthritis, Librela, and other pain management options? Get in touch with our team to schedule an appointment!