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VP Client Information Sheets
By VIN Community Contributors

What Can I Do About My Pet's Arthritis?

Susan G. Wynn DVM, RH (AHG)arthritis.png

Key points

  • Signs of osteoarthritis may be subtle and easy to miss
  • Early treatment is critical to slow progression of the disease
  • Maintaining lean body weight is absolutely critical for arthritic patients
  • Newer concepts of arthritis management involve proper exercise to maintain muscle mass and decrease pain
  • Structure-modifying agents are most effective when started early and maintained long term
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, acupuncture, and physical therapy may be recommended for later stages of the disease

Exactly what is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that may affect any joint but is commonly found in a pet’s hip, elbow, shoulder, stifle (knee), carpus (wrist), hock (ankle) or intervertebral joints (in the spine).  It occurs when cartilage in the joint is damaged, either following a traumatic event or with wear and tear that increases in athletic animals, obese animals, or when the joint is congenitally abnormal.

Cartilage decreases joint stress by reducing impact on the ends of the bones in joints, like a gelatinous shock absorber.  When cartilage is damaged, a cascade of inflammatory changes occurs, eventually leading to destruction of the cartilage and subsequent damage to the underlying bone.  Cartilage contains no nerves – if your pet is showing any signs of pain, the damage and changes in underlying bone have already begun.

Signs of arthritis include:

  • Reluctance to take walks of usual length
  • Stiffness (that may disappear once the pet has ‘warmed up’)
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, climbing in the car, on the bed or a sofa
  • Difficulty rising from rest
  • Limping
  • Abnormal gait
  • Licking of a single joint
  • Acting withdrawn, spending less time playing with family (which is often misunderstood as a sign of ‘aging’)
  • Soreness when touched 
  • Rarely, aggression when touched or approached

Exactly what can I do?

  • Weight Reduction: Ask your doctor about your pet’s body condition score (BCS), which should be normal (5/9) or slightly underweight (4/9).  If your pet is overweight, discuss a weight loss diet with your veterinarian.
  • Controlled Exercise:  Low-impact exercise is best; swimming or walking through shallow water is ideal.  Leash walking and controlled jogging are also acceptable.
  • Nutraceuticals:  Synergistic combinations of nutraceuticals such as glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate contain compounds that support cartilage structure, prevent further deterioration, suppress inflammation, and reduce free radical damage.
  • Injectable Chondroprotective Agent: Talk to your veterinarian about an injectable agent that may also help preserve cartilage in the joints.
  • Acupuncture and Massage: Both of these therapies may provide additional non-drug pain control.
  • Prescription Drugs: Drugs are available that can reduce inflammation and suppress pain in dogs with more advanced disease.  Side effects can be minimized by monitoring your dog’s blood work regularly.

Nutraceuticals We Offer:

  • Synovial Flex: Great tasting chew that contains Glucosamine HCl a major building block of cartilage.  It also makes up 50% of the natural lubricant found in synovial (joint) fluid.  It also contains MSM, Omega 3 Fatty Acids EPA & DHA which are all natural anti-inflammatory.  When to use: elderly animals, difficulty rising, stiff & sore after exercise, giant breeds, growing puppies, active adults, working dogs. Palatability Guaranteed.


  • Advanced Joint Care:  Great tasting chew that is specially formulated to bring the same essential cartilage building blocks and antioxidants that help slow joint degradation that are in Synovial Flex, but also targets discomfort and auto-immune attacks on the joint.  It contains UC-II a patented collagen extract that desensitizes the immune system & prevents auto-immune attacks on the joints.  It also contains Boswellia extract which inhibits the COX-2 enzymes which decreases inflammations, discomfort & stiffness.  When to use: Elderly animals, active & working dogs, joint stiffness & discomfort, difficulty rising, jumping or taking stairs.  Palatability Guaranteed.


  • Flexadin Advanced:  Highly palatable chew that supports healthy joints & flexibility.  Contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids as an anti-inflammatory & Vitamin E a very well know antioxidant & free radical scavenger.  Flexadin also contains the UC-II patented collagen.
  • Adequan Injections:  Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) is mostly chondroitin sulfate extracted from cow tissue (trachea to be exact).  It turns out, however, that polysulfated GAGs represent more than just building materials. They have anti-inflammatory properties of their own that help slow down the actual damage to the cartilage. They also promote enzyme systems that facilitate other aspects of joint repair by helping the joint create more lubricating fluid as well.  Adequan injections can be used in dogs, cats & horses.
  • Alenza Chewable Tablets:  Contains Vexadol®, a proprietary blend of novel botanical-based compounds (flavonoids) plus antioxidants and minerals.  Supports whole body comfort, conditioning, and quality of life in dogs by supporting a healthy inflammatory response, managing the effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and supporting normal metabolic processes in a dog's body.  When to use:  dogs feeling general discomfort due to normal daily activity, active pets/working dogs, aging pets with poor quality of life.  This is a good choice for dogs with moderate discomfort that just a joint supplement alone will not help but not quite ready for prescription drugs either.  Alenza has also proven to be helpful in dogs who are already on prescription drugs by allowing a lower dose to be used for maintenance.

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