Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, is a disease characterized by the destruction of the protective membrane that covers the bone in a movable joint. This destruction causes inflammation and pain in the joint. This disease is distressing, as it can subject your dog or cat to a lifetime of pain.
Veterinarians often treat dogs and cats with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease using a multimodal approach. Let’s explore some of these treatment protocols together.
Weight control is an important factor in the treatment and management of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. Due to an increasing increase in obesity in our pet populations, the incidence of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease is on the rise. It is therefore imperative that your pet maintains a healthy weight through an appropriate diet containing omega-3 fatty acids and a regular exercise program.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been used for several years to treat dogs and cats with osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. These medications are useful because they help relieve pain while reducing inflammation in the joint. Your veterinarian can discuss with you the risks and benefits of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and determine if this is the best solution for your pet.
The wheelchair is another method to improve the mobility of your cat and dog. The weight supported reduces the animal’s load and limits repetitive pain.
Gabapentin is a drug that has been widely used to relieve neuropathic pain and maladaptive behaviour in humans for many years. Because of its safety and efficacy in humans and some published studies that demonstrate that this therapy can be very useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in dogs and cats, it has been prescribed in recent years in pets. Although it has had some success in the treatment of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in dogs and cats, further clinical studies are needed at this time.
These are just a few examples of some of the most common protocols available for the treatment of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in our pets. Recently, some studies have been conducted on the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in dogs and cats. Monoclonal antibodies have been used for several years in humans to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and certain cancers. They have been shown to have very few side effects and can be used over the long term. The very first monoclonal antibody for dogs was produced a few years ago. It is used to treat canine atopic dermatitis, a dermatological condition that causes itching (pruritus). Since monoclonal antibodies have shown excellent results, they could pave the way for future therapies to treat pets with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.