Let’s assume that any laboratory abnormalities have been dealt with and that we still have a limping dog or lackadaisical cat and X-rays (radiology or imaging) have revealed arthritis of one or several joints. There are certain joints that are more typically affected in some species as well as even breeds within these species. It is important to localize the involved joints since some treatment modalities specifically target the the area. The most frequent treatment for arthritis currently utilized in pets is administration of NSAIDs or Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs. These have the advantage of treating multiple joints at once and eliminate the necessity of specific localization of the discomfort. However there are also drawbacks to these medications in that many dogs and cats will suffer side effects ranging from mild gastro- intestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea to more serious symptoms such as gastric (stomach) or intestinal ulcers. These medications can also have serious effects on the liver. If left untreated these side effects can be life threatening. Therefore in any case where NSAIDs are used it is essential that frequent monitoring by you, the pet owner is practiced, as well as frequent blood testing by your veterinarian. The interval for this testing will vary according to your vet’s preference as well as what the previous testing has shown. In our practice we rarely go longer than a few months (initially only two weeks) when using these agents. And always make sure that your pet is not taking these on an empty stomach.
If a more localized treatment is desired or in the event that a pet owner would prefer a non medical solution (or the pet’s condition dictates) there are other alternatives available. Nutritional therapies such as glucosamine/chondroitin supplements and special diets for weight loss are two of these choices. Acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy can also be useful in this situation. In our practice we prefer a balanced approach in which we will frequently combine, weight loss, nutritional supplementation and Low Level Laser Therapy or LLLT. LLLT also known as cold laser therapy comes under the heading of Photobiomodulation. http://media.myfoxboston.com/news/specials/pettherapy.html We will explore this treatment in the next post.