The multimodal approach to canine arthritis

No one knows your dog better than you do. Moving more slowly or being less active than usual could be signs of canine osteoarthritis. The good news is that today there are many things you can do to help your dog maintain a high quality of life. Arthritis can’t be cured, but it can be managed with good veterinary and home care.

In the last decade, veterinarians and animal researchers have developed a better understanding of how and why animals hurt, and what can be done to relieve their suffering. The introduction of more effective medications has provided additional tools to manage canine arthritis.

But recent research also shows that diet, exercise and physical therapy can play significant roles in improving your dog’s overall health, especially if he suffers from arthritis. Six approaches, or modes, when used together, can promote better joint function and less discomfort. By using some or all of these modes, your veterinarian can develop a customized treatment plan for your dog.


Daily exercise is vital for successful weight control — for you and your dog. It’s also an important element in keeping your pal’s joints limber and muscles strong. While you may have to adjust how far you go on your daily walks, or skip the Frisbee catch and choose a lower-impact game, what’s important is making daily physical activity fun for both of you.


The right mix of dietary fatty acids can do more than improve your dog’s skin and coat. Research shows that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, can help reduce inflammation, help limit damage to cartilage and reduce the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.1 Specially developed foods, such as Hill’s® Prescription Diet® j/d™ Canine or Purina Prescription Diet JM, are an easy way to provide high levels of EPA every day.


Millions of dogs with arthritis have benefited from a class of pain medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These medications help manage chronic pain and inflammation. There are more then one brand of NSAID’s available, ask you veterinarian which one is best for your pet!


Another medication that can slow the degenerative process is injected intramuscularly to help lubricate joints and support tissue repair. Adequan® Canine (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is such a medication, prescribed only through a veterinarian.
We also carry a joint supplement in the form of soft flavored chews you can offer your dog daily.

Physical Rehabilitation

Like techniques used to help humans, animal physical rehabilitation uses applications of cold and heat, massage, stretching and range-of-motion exercises to maintain joint health and muscle strength. Rehabilitation can relieve pain; aid in bone healing; and promote cartilage, tendon and ligament health.

Adjunct Therapy

Other medications can be used to help relieve your dog’s pain. Your veterinarian can recommend the best drug or combination of drugs to help maintain your dog’s quality of life.

1. Caterson B, Little CV, Cramp J, et al. The modulation of canine articular cartilage degradation by omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids. Proceedings North American Veterinary Conference; 2005.
*NADA #141-038 approved by FDA

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