Signs of arthritis are due to gradual loss of the joint cartilage and exposure of the bone ends, causing lameness, stiffness after resting, joint tenderness, and crepitation (a grating sensation when moving an affected joint). Arthritis due to injury or infection can cause swelling and redness of the skin over the joint. Your pet may have a fever and refuse to eat.
Articular cartilage can heal though poorly and needs frequent treatment. Treatments range from rest and pain-relieving medication to joint surgery. Your veterinarian will advise you of the treatment necessary for your pet. There are many different products available. Many can be used in combination. “Trial and error” is often required to find the treatment most suited to your pet.
Currently the best treatment available is Pentosan – an injectable drug that is the only product known to actually stimulate healing within a joint, by inhibiting some of the destructive enzymes. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) are also currently used (Metacam & Rimadyl are considered the two best for dogs) for pain relief and their protective effects on joint cartilage. Corticosteroids are also currently used – their anti-inflammatory effect also helps with pain. Equally important is weight loss (where necessary); massage, warmth, soft bedding; also other supplements are thought to assist – e.g. shark cartilage, green lip muscle extract. Please discuss these options with your veterinarian.