Arthritis medication has two purposes: controlling the inflammation and relieving discomfort. Controlling inflammation is vital – further inflammation results in increased joint damage, worsening the arthritis. Relief of pain and discomfort is also extremely important to help an animal maintain quality of life and allow him or her to enjoy walks and play.
Owners are often concerned that starting medication early will reduce the long term effect or decrease the benefits of the medication when we really need it, but in fact the opposite is true – the sooner we can control the joint inflammation and degeneration, the less damage the joint suffers and the easier the arthritis is to minimise or reverse. Arthritis medication, when used appropriately, will not hide the pain to the point where an animal over-uses and damages a joint further.
The most commonly used class of anti-arthritic medication is the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). These include older medications such as aspirin, as well as the newer highly-selective drugs such as Rimadyl, Meloxicam and Previcox.
In severe arthritis cases, we will often also use pain-relief medication such as Tramadol to help reduce discomfort and improve quality of life.
Both of these medication groups are very safe and are a vital component of a balanced treatment plan for arthritis, but you should discuss with your veterinarian before starting any new medication as certain drugs are more suitable for some patients than others.
Please continue to read about Nutritional Supplements for Arthritis.