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Dealing with Joint and Back Pain in your Pet
(You might also want to read "A new treatment for severe spinal cord injury in dogs" as well as the below article)
Ron Hines DVM PhD 5/25/03
Hip problems seem to run in families of certain large breeds of work dogs (Labradors, golden retrievers German shepherds, Old English sheep dogs, etc). There is definitely a genetic or inherited tendency to this problem. Some years ago, half of a litter from a mother dog showing hip dysphasia was given all the puppy food they would eat; the other half was given limited quantities of adult dog chow. As the pups matured, the ones give the puppy chow developed hip disease but the ones given adult dog chow did not. We now know it the disease is caused by too rapid weight and muscle gain for the young animal’s hips and elbows to support. That is why it is usually the largest pups from a large litter that have the most problems as them mature.
When the dog is already mature you can no longer influence growth rate. But you can, be sure the dog does not become overweight. Then put it on a glycosoaminoglycans supplement from Wal-Mart or your veterinarian.
Some diets, sold in supermarkets are fortified with glycosoaminoglycans, a chemical needed for strong bones and cartilage. Give about 500 to 1000 mg a day. Iif that does not do the trick you can give one adult aspirin a day. Some dogs tolerate an adult (325mg) aspirin well, others don't. Tylenol does not help and is hard on a dog’s liver. Some dogs will also tolerate a (200-400mg) Advil tablet - others developed diarrhea or poor appetite on this medicine.
It is good to have these dogs’ livers check about twice a year to be sure the liver is tolerating the drug well and that they are not producing tarry stools – a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding. . Another newer drug that works well is carbprofen (Rimadyl) it is given twice a day at 1 mg per pound. Fontanel patches (100mg/hr transdermal patches) are also effective in stubborn arthritis cases.
A side effect can be constipation, which responds to one-half tablespoon full of Phillips Milk of Magnesia given every two days. I also find that hot and cold packs seem to relive a lot of the pet’s pain. It is usually the largest pups from a large litter that have the most problems. When a dog is still growing, placing it on a "lite" dog food rather than puppy chow seems to help. When the dog is already mature, be sure it is not overweight. Then put it on a glycosoaminoglycans supplement from Wal-Mart.
Give about 500 to 1000 mg a day. If that does not do the trick you can give one adult aspirin a day. Some dogs tolerate aspirin well, others don't. Another drug that sometimes lessens nerve-associated pain is diphenylhydantoin (Dylantin, Phenytoin) given at 125-300mg/day. Tylenol acetaminophen) does not help and is hard on a dog’s liver. I have not had success using Feldene (pyroxicam).
Some dogs tolerate an Advil or ibuprofen tablet - others developed diarrhea or poor appetite. It is good to have these dogs’ livers check about twice a year to be sure the liver is tolerating the drug well. Another newer drug that works well is carbprofen (Rimadyl) it is given twice a day at 1 mg per pound.
A second drug that is good is Etogesis (etolac) given once a day. Some dogs will tolerate ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Unpin) at 200mg per large dog. A liver profile every six months is a good idea. When none of the above drugs work any longer, prednisone or prednisolone give at 0.38mg per pound every 72 hours is quite effective.
Just see to it that they don't munch and gain a lot of weight on these corticosteroids. They are not as dangerous as some veterinarians proport –any human being who has had a kidney, lung or bone marrow transport or who suffers from lupus or aplastic anemia is on a much higher dose of these drugs for the remainder of their lives.
They just shouldn’t be abused or overused. . Fontanel patches are also effective in stubborn arthritis cases. I have also had success rubbing in a liniment consisting of three tablespoons-full of DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide), one tablespoon full of ketamine HCL (Ketalar) and one tablespoon of Xylazine (Rompun). This is quite effective when combined with hot whirlpool treatments and swimming.
Two drug that successfully combat joint pain in humans are amyltriptiline (Elavil) and ciproheptadine in cats. Both have Prozac-like effects. Cats do not tolerate many of the drugs I have mentioned in this article , with the exception of ciproheptadine, amyltriptiline, fentanyl, glycosoaminoglycans and transdermal fentanyl patches. One extra strength (500mg) Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be poisonous to a cat. Best wishes, Ron Hines