November 6, 2023

Senior Pet's Arthritis Guide: Keep Them Painless & Playful!

November is Senior Pet Awareness Month, a time dedicated to honoring our furry companions who have aged gracefully by our side. As our pets grow older, they may face various health challenges, and one of the most common conditions in senior dogs and cats is osteoarthritis (OA). In this blog post, we'll shed light on what osteoarthritis is, how to spot its signs, and proactive steps you can take to keep your senior pet comfortable and moving for as long as possible. We'll also explore different treatment options, including their potential side effects.

Understanding Osteoarthritis: What is it?

Osteoarthritis, often referred to simply as arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that affects both cats and dogs, especially as they age. It occurs when the protective cartilage in a pet's joints begins to deteriorate, leading to pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility. OA can impact any joint in the body, including the hips, knees, elbows, and even the spine.

Spotting the Signs of Osteoarthritis:

Recognizing the early signs of OA in your senior pet is crucial for providing timely care. Some common symptoms to watch for include:

  • Limping or favoring one leg: If your pet suddenly starts limping or seems to avoid putting weight on a specific limb, it could be due to joint pain.
  • Difficulty moving or getting up: Arthritic pets may struggle to stand up, climb stairs, or jump onto furniture.
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion: You might notice your pet has trouble bending their joints fully or experiences stiffness, especially after resting.
  • Lethargy or behavioral changes: Pain and discomfort can lead to changes in your pet's behavior, such as decreased activity levels or increased irritability.
  • Reluctance to be touched: Pets with OA may become more sensitive to touch, particularly around affected joints.
  • Loss of appetite: Pain can affect your pet's appetite and overall well-being.

Being Proactive: Keeping Your Senior Pet Comfortable and Active:

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are several proactive steps you can take to manage the condition and enhance your pet's quality of life:

  1. Consult Your Veterinarian: If you suspect your pet has OA or notice any of the signs mentioned above, consult your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference.
  2. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for reducing stress on the joints. Your vet can recommend a suitable diet and exercise plan.
  3. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can help improve joint mobility and reduce pain. Ask your vet for recommendations.
  4. Medications: Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or joint supplements can alleviate pain and inflammation. Your vet will determine the most suitable options.
  5. Environmental Modifications: Make your home more senior-pet-friendly by providing ramps, orthopedic beds, and non-slip flooring.

Managing OA in senior pets, Treatment options:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are a group of drugs with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. They are commonly prescribed to manage pain and inflammation in pets with conditions like osteoarthritis. These medications can greatly improve your pet’s comfort, but it's crucial to use them carefully due to potential side effects, some of which can be severe. NSAID’s available for dogs and cats differ and are available only by prescription. Your veterinarian will assess if an NSAID is suitable for your dog and monitor their health during treatment.

In the United States, approved NSAIDs for dogs include:

  • Carprofen (multiple brand and generic names such as RIMADYL)
  • Firocoxib (PREVICOX, FIROX*)
  • Grapiprant (GALLIPRANT)
  • Meloxicam (multiple brand and generic names)
  • Robenacoxib (ONSIOR, for a maximum of 3 days)

In the United States, approved NSAIDs for cats include:

  • While the FDA has not granted approval for long-term NSAID use in cats, specific NSAIDs have been cleared for short-term relief. Your veterinarian may recommend robenacoxib in pill form, which is also available as an injectable. Alternatively, meloxicam, another NSAID, can be administered via injection, particularly following surgery, or as an oral liquid.

Potential NSAID Side Effects: While most side effects are mild, some can be serious, including stomach ulcers, kidney or liver problems. If you suspect your pet is experiencing side effects, stop giving the medication and contact your veterinarian.

Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs)

DMOADs, such as Adequan® Canine, have emerged as a promising approach to treating osteoarthritis. Officially approved for dogs and horses, this injectable drug can provide much-needed relief from joint pain. But here's the secret: it's also used safely in cats, addressing their joint discomfort effectively.Unlike traditional pain relief medications that primarily manage symptoms,DMOADs are designed to alter the progression of osteoarthritis by targeting the underlying factors that contribute to joint degeneration.
These substances work by enhancing the overall health of critical components within the joints, such as articular cartilage and synovial fluid. Here's a closer look at how DMOADs function and why they are gaining attention as a valuable primary or adjunctive treatment for osteoarthritis:

  1. Articular Cartilage Maintenance: DMOADs play a pivotal role in preserving and restoring articular cartilage—the smooth, protective tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. They promote the synthesis of essential compounds like glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, which are vital for maintaining cartilage structure and function. By preventing further cartilage degradation and fostering repair, DMOADs help prolong joint health and mobility.
  2. Synovial Fluid Enhancement: Another key aspect of DMOAD action involves improving the quality and lubricating properties of synovial fluid—the fluid that surrounds and nourishes joint tissues. By optimizing synovial fluid composition, DMOADs aid in reducing friction and wear and tear within the joint. This, in turn, can alleviate pain, stiffness, and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Many DMOADs possess anti-inflammatory properties, which are particularly beneficial in osteoarthritis management. Chronic inflammation contributes to joint damage and pain. DMOADs help mitigate inflammation, creating a more favorable environment for joint healing and maintenance.
  4. Slow Disease Progression: One of the most compelling aspects of DMOADs is their potential to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. By intervening in the disease process at an early stage, these drugs can prevent further joint degeneration and, in some cases, reverse damage that has already occurred.
  5. Adjunctive Therapy: DMOADs are often used alongside other treatment modalities, such as physical therapy, weight management, and lifestyle modifications. Combining these approaches can provide a comprehensive strategy for managing osteoarthritis and improving a pet's overall quality of life.

While DMOADs offer promise in osteoarthritis management, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Your veterinarian can assess the severity of your pet’s osteoarthritis, recommend suitable DMOADs, and establish a comprehensive approach to address their specific needs.

Innovation in Osteoarthritis Treatments: Solensia for Cats, Synamid® for Dogs

Solensia, developed by Zoetis, stands as the first and only FDA-Approved once-monthly monoclonal antibody therapy that controls feline osteoarthritis (OA) pain. This monthly injection, administered at your veterinarian's office, effectively manages the pain your cat may endure due to OA. Solensia is designed to controlOA pain in cats, restoring them to their usual state by enhancing mobility. It operates similarly to your cat's naturally produced antibodies, diminishing pain signals.
Synamid®,a polyacrylamide hydrogel, has emerged as a groundbreaking option to combat lameness and the torment of joint inflammation. In the realm of innovative arthritis treatments for dogs, Synamid®, an exceptional 2.5% polyacrylamide hydrogel, sets itself apart. Upon injection into the joints, Synamid® exhibits a unique characteristic – it adheres to the synovial lining by leveraging its remarkable water molecule exchange capability. Over a span of 14 days, this gel seamlessly integrates into the synovial lining and the adjacent inner capsule tissue. This integration is achieved through a combination of cell migration and vessel ingrowth, culminating in the formation of a resilient, cushion-like membrane. This membrane comprises a gel that's harmoniously integrated with vessels and enveloped by a novel, hyper cellular synovial cell lining.

Here at Countryside, we have been seeing some incredible results since we've started using Synamid® and Solensia. Ask us if this is an option for your pet.

Non-InvasivePain Management | Laser Therapy

Here at Countryside, we provide cutting-edge Class IV laser treatments that usher in a new era of non-invasive pain management for your beloved pets. Laser therapy stands as a testament to the power of technology in alleviating pain, reducing swelling, expediting healing, and revitalizing your furry companions. Understanding the essence of healing reveals that it commences at the cellular level. Laser therapy harnesses the potential of near-infrared light to deliver an essential boost – heightened blood flow and increased oxygen supply to cells. This process culminates in cellular bio-stimulation, a fundamental aspect of the healing journey. Scientifically proven, laser therapy treatments hold the promise of elevating activity levels, enhancing mobility, and effectively managing both chronic and acute pain. With our commitment to delivering non-invasive and cutting-edge solutions, laser therapy emerges as a beacon of hope for pet owners seeking pain relief for their cherished animal companions. It's a gentle yet potent approach that brings comfort and rejuvenation to the forefront of your pet's well-being.

Joint Supplements, Physical Therapy and Prescription Diets:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can help improve joint health with minimal side effects.
  • Physical therapy can improve mobility without any significant side effects.
  • Specialized diets can aid in weight management and overall joint health.


As pet parents, it's our responsibility to ensure our senior companions enjoy a comfortable and active life, even in their golden years. By understanding osteoarthritis, recognizing its signs, and taking proactive steps, you can make a significant difference in your pet's well-being. Consult your veterinarian to create a tailored plan for managing OA, including appropriate treatments with careful consideration of potential side effects. Together, we can help our senior pets continue to thrive and cherish the precious moments we share with them.