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Arthritis Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Although arthritis cannot be completely cured, there are many options for treating the disease. Available treatments can slow the degeneration of the joints, control inflammation, and reduce pain. With the right medications and treatment plan, you and your vet can help your dog or cat live life to the fullest.


Pharmaceutical corticosteroids include prednisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone, and mimic natural hormones secreted by the body. Steroids are usually prescribed in acute cases to reduce the inflammation and swelling of arthritis and help alleviate pain, however, long-term use can actually damage cartilage and osteoporosis. As a result, steroids are no longer frequently prescribed to dogs, though cats seem to suffer fewer side effects.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are increasingly popular for the treatment of pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and meloxicam (Metacam). NSAIDs are considered preferable to steroids, especially for dogs, as they produce fewer dangerous side effects. However, some NSAIDs, Tylenol in particular, can be toxic to cats. Also be aware that although these medications are also used on humans, do not give your pet any medications without first speaking to your veterinarian.


Supplements can promote the repair of cartilage, lubricate the joints and promote overall joint health. These are considered safer alternatives to steroids and NSAIDs as they have minimal side effects. Supplements can take up to 1-2 months to have an effect, so they are not a quick fix for acute pain and inflammation. However, they can safely be given to animals without arthritis to help prevent the development of joint problems later in life. A popular ingredient in supplements includes green lipped mussel extract, glucosamine and chondroitin and are available as chews, tablets or powders for dogs and cats. Supplements are particularly effective when combined with other treatments.

Lifestyle changes

Although supplements and medication are most effective at targeting pain and inflammation, the benefit of making small changes to your pet’s diet, exercise and lifestyle should not be underestimated. A healthy diet not only provides vitamins and minerals to help fight inflammation but keeping your pet’s weight under control will reduce pressure on their joints. Introducing a controlled and gentle exercise program is an important part of dealing with arthritis as it keeps the joints supple, strengthens the surrounding ligaments and muscles, and will also stop your pet becoming overweight.

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs and Cats

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