The recommended therapy for osteoarthritis encompasses many aspects and varying approaches might be recommended. Some of these are more conservative, while others will involve performing surgery. Occasionally both options are used. Each patient will be assessed and receive their customized treatment program, which is set up in consultation with the owner and the veterinarian who will be treating the animal. Common conservative treatments, include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs of a non-steroidal nature. Examples of these drugs are meloxicam, carprofen, ketoprofen and deracoxib. Another form of medication known as adjunctive pain controllers include corticosteroids, gabapentin, amantadine, codeine, tramadol, or acetaminophen. There is, however, a lack of research pertaining to the effectiveness of these drugs. Your veterinarian may also prescribe glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate, or omega-3-fatty-acid supplements to aid the joints and allow for a more comfortable journey for your pet.
Another treatment option is an injection into the joint using corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid or plasma which is rich in platelets. Over and above this, controlling your dog’s weight is important as obesity can put extra strain on joints exasperating the OA and making the animal less mobile. You might need to change the activities that your dog participates in. Activities that are strenuous on joints, like going for a run or performing jumps, can cause the joints to become more inflamed. Replacing these activities with walking on a leash, or less strenuous play, will allow your dog to exercise and maintain joint movement which will eventually improve the stability of the affected joints, but at a pace which is less stressful on their joints yet still effective in staying fit. Surgery is also an option and might be considered in cases where the ligament of the animal has torn. The surgery will include fusion of the joints (arthrodesis), or the joints will be completely replaced. This is usually the case when hips or elbows are compromised. Minor joints are more commonly stabilised by using stiches. This is usually performed on joints like the stifle (ankle joint). Osteotomy methods, which involve bone grafts can also be used.