Sunday, January 15, 2017

Treating osteoarthritis in dogs has come a long way, but communication about it between vets and families is slow

Yesterday, I had meet and greet with a family that included two 14-year old Labs. We had a great time getting to know each other. I'll admit that as we went over the care regimen, I was absolutely thrilled to learn that both dog's osteoarthritis (OA) pain is being well-managed by maintaining a healthy weight, mindful activity and prescription medication. And because their kidneys are doing well, the latter includes a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID).

People love to talk about their companion animals. No matter how the topic of arthritis comes up with a pet owner, as it does often--in my work, even casual conversation in my travels--I find that it's not uncommon that there isn't enough solid dialogue between families and clinicians about the disease and the discomfort and pain that results from it.

"I had no idea that there was medication available to help my dog. And something like acupuncture--wow... who knew? So, I just ask my vet about this, right?"

It's unclear why there's such a disconnect between the two parties, but nonetheless, as a professional who has the unique position of being on the periphery, I do what I can to change that.

The misinformation about treatment options, including what is and is not safe to give both dogs and cats clearly pulls ahead in most conversations--something else that I regularly spend time untangling, too.

The good news is that there are several approaches and modalities to manage OA adequately in pets, even if renal issues make NSAIDs prohibitive in those dogs who are at a stage in the disease where they could benefit from them. (Gabapentin, available by prescription from your vet and is a safe and effective option for these pets.)

Click here for a great article from The Bark that covers what OA is and the facts on treatment. It can be a helpful starting point in talking with your veterinarian about options for your pet.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She has been a featured guest on the Pawprint Animal Rescue Podcast, talking about her career working with companion animals and writing about her experiences. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

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