Osteoarthritis is a common problem in dogs. Dr. Mychajlonka, also known as Dr. Mych – a veterinarian at Las Vegas’s own Craig Road Animal Hospital, in the first of a series of posts, discusses what options are available to pet owners to treat this debilitating disease.

Dr. Mychajlonka

By Kurt Mychajlonka, DVM

Your dog has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis – welcome to a large club.
Osteoarthritis is prevalent is 1 in 5 dogs over 1 year of age. The good news that there are a lot of medications, treatments, and products to help.
Your vet will undoubtedly use a multimodal approach – which essentially means they will use multiple types of medications and treatments to help increase your pet’s mobility and decrease their pain. You can always ask your vet specific questions about your pet’s treatment but below, and the following posts, you will find answers to some of the most common questions about treating osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also know as degenerative joint disease, is a collection of painful symptoms revolving around the degradation of the joints which can significantly impact your pet’s ability to move about and level of activity.

1: Why does my pet need blood work to treat a joint disease?
One of the main types of medications to help treat the pain associated with osteoarthritis are NSAIDS.
Like most medications, NSAIDS can have side effects. Gastro intestinal upset and liver damage are the more serious side effects that your vet will be worried about. A baseline set of blood work will tell your veterinarian if your pet has any issues before treatment starts.
Your vet will then want to recheck the blood work periodically (typically at 3 weeks and then at 9 months) to ensure that problems are developing.
Testing may include any or all of the following, depending on your pet’s medical history; CBC, chemistry, urinalysis, and thyroid.

2: Why does my pet need to lose weight?
The single most effective thing to improve a dog’s quality of life when they are overweight, and have osteoarthritis, is to lose weight. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints, and being overweight puts additional strain and pressure on those joints.
Your veterinarian will use a computer modeling program to tell you how much your dog is overweight. Pets that are greater than 10% overweight can use a specific weight loss food such as Hill’s Metabolic diet.
Pets that are less than 10% overweight can use a High EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) diet such as Hill’s J/D which is specially formulated for treating dogs with Osteoarthritis. Please ensure that you follow your veterinarian’s instructions for how much to feed of a specific food.

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