When your dog is in pain you naturally want to do the same for them as you would for anyone you love. You want to take away their pain, but how?
Your dogs suffering can come from many different conditions including arthritis, dysplasia and damaged ligaments that may cause noticeable pain in their legs and joints. Back or spinal pain is also common in dogs.
Inflammation is nature’s response to damaged joints, ligaments and muscles. An inflammatory response occurs in these as is a part of the healing process. Cells affected by injury release chemicals that cause surrounding blood vessels to dilate and release fluids causing swelling. These fluids contain specialised cells which carry out the healing.
The process is painful, due the expansion of tissues and the presence of pain mediators.
Steroids and NSAID’s are man made drugs generally only available for dogs on prescription. They are effective but often have side effects that make them unsuitable as long term treatments. For example steroids depress the general immune system and NSAID’s can affect the gastro-
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The following information on anti-
Most of the drugs available to us relieve pain and nothing else. Some actually make the joint worse, despite relieving pain; while others do help to restore the normal structure of the joint and its cartilage.
It is very important that you do not give any pain killer to an animal without veterinary advice first. It's best to insist on being prescribed a veterinary licensed product on all occasions. These have been shown to be safe and effective in the target species.
Metacam® is currently the first choice NSAID for the treatment of arthritis. It has an acceptable safety profile, but can cause vomiting or diarrhoea. It is presented as a liquid with its own dosing syringe. Metacam doesn't have any adverse effects on joint cartilage, but because of side effect fears, many owner avoid its long-
Rimadyl® is an excellent pain killer, and side-
Ketofen® is a good pain killer, but unfortunately, it can only be safely given for 5 days. This makes it unsuitable for the long-
Pain killers are the Vets main treatment for arthritis, and have been for a great many years. Most of these belong to a family of drugs called NSAIDs (pronounced en-
Of all the drugs in common use in veterinary medicine, NSAIDs show the greatest differences in toxicity between species. This means that a drug that is very safe if one species can be very toxic to another. Good examples of this are:
Piroxicam(Feldene®) is very closely related to meloxicam. It is unlicensed for use in animals in the UK, but was used extensively before meloxicam was introduced. It is much cheaper than meloxicam, but also considerably more toxic. Vomiting and diarrhoea are quite common. It has a much greater potential for damaging the kidneys than meloxicam. It is however an excellent pain killer, and only needs to be administered once every 2 days.
Aspirin This is the oldest NSAID in use. It's cheap, and available from practically every grocer's shop in the UK. In the dog, aspirin is quite good as a pain killer, but vomiting is common. Giving the drug with food helps to prevent vomiting in some individuals. Aspirin can also hasten the course of arthritis, because it inhibits the production of important proteins within cartilage. It does not have a veterinary licence in the UK, and it is generally better to use one of the more modern drugs with a better safety profile. (Also note: aspirin must not be given to cats except on specific veterinary advice).
Paracetamol Like aspirin, paracetamol is cheap and readily available. It appears to be less effective as a pain killer than aspirin, but vomiting is usually not a feature. Although paracetamol is classified as an NSAID, it has no anti-
Paracetamol must never be given to cats. (Why?)
The following NSAIDs should not be given to dogs under any circumstances:
Indomethacin (Many brand names)
Ibuprofen (Nurofen®, Brufen®, and many other brands)
This is not a complete list of all the NSAIDs that are unsuitable for dogs. If you are taking an NSAID for arthritis, and you think it's the best thing ever, it does not mean that it will be good, or safe to give it to your dog.
Steroids are commonly used to treat arthritis in the dog. They are potent inhibitors of inflammation, and very useful pain relievers as a result.
While these drugs can be very effective in controlling the symptoms of arthritis, especially in the short term, they can seriously adversely affect the condition of the joint.
That is, they make the disease worse rather than better. This effect is much more pronounced than any of the NSAIDs. In addition, steroids have masses of other side effects.
The following side-
Loss of appetite
Reduced blood flow to the kidney, (and hence kidney failure)
Abnormalities of blood cell production
Inhibition of phagocytosis, (a phagocyte is a white blood cell which destroys bacteria, and foreign proteins, and is an important part of the immune system).
Pentosan polysulphate (Cartrophen) is in the only class of drugs used to treat arthritis that relieves pain by actually improving the condition of the joint.
It's worth noting again here that steroids and some NSAIDs, such as aspirin speed the progression of arthritis. It is injected periodically over a treatment course.
The response to Cartrophen Vet® is quite variable; in some dogs, no other treatment is required for many months or years; in others, there is no effect at all.