Two things help dogs with arthritis live longer and happier lives- weight loss and multimodal pain control
Weight loss is helpful to dogs who are suffering from arthritis. We grade dogs body weight from 1 to 9 where 1 is thin and 9 is fat. The old ideal was to be a 5 but dogs do much better with the body conditioning score of 4 out of 9. One way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel for ribs. The ribs of your dogs should palpate like the bones on the back of your hand, the metacarpals.
If you think your dog may be overweight come in and have one of the nurses weigh your dog and tell you the body conditioning score. If your dog needs to lose weight please ask for diet using the food you feed currently. A word of warning- pet food labels are unreliable (this is one of those few times in life where you actually should not read the label). We have the information you need – labels do not. The veterinary school weight/calorie needs calculator I use recommends individualized daily caloric intake for your pet. We then use a long list of the most popular brands of dog food’s caloric content to give you a diet recommendation.
Multimodal pain control is all the rage in veterinary medicine these days. In the past we waited too long to begin treatment with drugs that both control inflammation and pain. The big three drugs we use to treat arthritis in dogs are a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, an opiate and anantioxidant multivitamins. More severe arthritis cases may benefit from the use of gabapentin as well as Tylenol, both these drugs are somewhat controversial and should not be used without close veterinary supervision. Do not attempt medicate your dog from your medicine chest- many of our human arthritis drugs are toxic, even fatal, to our pets.