What Can I Give My Dog For Arthritis?

Updated April 8, 2023

There is no animal treatment that provokes more debate than arthritis medication. The sheer number of treatments on offer is bewildering. Why??

  1. Arthritis is common: it’s a big market with a lot of competition from different products
  2. It’s hard to tell when treatment helps: real improvements is often hard to distinguish from the placebo effect
  3. There’s no silver bullet: despite some good options, owners of badly affected dogs know that we still can’t do enough to help them

Your dog isn’t going to complain if you get it wrong. If you have an arthritic dog, you need to know what works. Here I’ll try to show you what the evidence for arthritis treatments tells us.

You might also like: Treating arthritis & pain in cats | Arthritis in rabbits

Dog Arthritis Treatments

I’ll do my best to be as open-minded as I can but I’m also going to be blunt about where the evidence doesn’t sit. Using an ineffective treatment is not just useless, it gets in the way of using something else that might actually work.

Fish Oil Arthritis Diets

Fish oil is the most evidence-based dietary supplement for canine arthritis, However, when given on its own it can be disappointing. It is most effective when integrated into a diet.

dog arthritis food
Hills j/d in tins and dry

The diet with the best experimental and clinical evidence is Hills j/d®. The diet has omega-3 fatty acids added and the competing omega-6 fatty acids reduced giving an over 30-fold increase in the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. This allows the food to exert a greater effect in reducing joint inflammation.

The effects are significant and repeatable especially in mild to moderate arthritis. Even in severe cases, it can help in combination with other treatments. The only time I don’t recommend j/d is in dogs sensitive to changing their food or those prone to pancreatitis.

Read an in depth review of the evidence for fish oil and j/d here.

Dog Arthritis Injections

Cartrophen-Vet, Zydax, Synovan, and Arthropen are all brands of pentosan polysulfate sodium. It produces excellent results in mild to moderate arthritis and is almost completely free of side effects. There is virtually no arthritic dog that cannot be given Cartrophen safely.

Cartrophen is part of our first line treatment when a diagnosis is made. A course of four injections is given at weekly intervals, and then repeated six months later. Its use can often delay the need for other treatments for many years.

The cost of each Cartrophen injection is not excessive- see current prices here.

In the USA, many vets use and recommend Adequan® Canine (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan). It is not available in Australia and I have no information on its efficacy compared with pentosan.

There are no other recommended arthritis injections. In the past, long-acting cortisone was also used. This is outdated and rarely a good idea due to poor results and significant side effects.

Dog Anti Inflammatory Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have the highest level of evidence for controlling the signs of arthritis. The biggest mistake I see is dog owners worrying so much about medication side effects that they won’t use them. Once your dog needs pain relief, these drugs are lifesavers and nearly always very safe.

dog pain pyramid

There are plenty of dog NSAIDs to choose from with different side effect risks, efficacy, and costs. They include carprofen, meloxicam, firocoxib, grapiprant, mavacoxib, etodolac, and robenacoxib. Brand names include Rimadyl, Metacam, Onsior, Galliprant and Previcox. We use four of these based on our experience and owner preferences.

When side effects occur they are mainly vomiting and diarrhoea due to gastrointestinal ulcers. If this happens, a pause or change in medication is required. Liver or kidney damage can occur but should be rare if blood testing is performed before, and then again shortly after starting.

Prednisolone and other cortisone drugs are also anti-inflammatory but should definitely be avoided unless there’s no alternative. They do not work well and cause serious side effects at the doses that are needed.

Monoclonal Antibody

The newest treatment is bedinvetmab, a canine monoclonal antibody directed at nerve growth factor. In Australia it is sold under the name Beransa, or Librela elsewhere. In a reasonable proportion of dogs it can alleviate signs of arthritis with minimal side effects. It is given as a monthly injection.

Our experience is that Beransa can work well in dogs that previously were doing poorly on other treatments. Read more about the efficacy and safety of Beransa here.

Pain Relief Drugs

Tramadol, amantadine, and gabapentin can be used as second-line pain treatments. None of them is likely to work as well as an anti-inflammatory but they often work well in combination with one.

Our favourite second-line drug is gabapentin. If used carefully, the only side effects are mild sedation when given at higher doses.

The only ‘over the counter’ pain medication likely to help is paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US). On its own, the effect is minimal but it is sometimes added to existing pain protocols to improve the response. However, even in this case, there’s usually a better option elsewhere.

Cannabis Oil (CBD, Cannabidiol)

There are now three studies showing that cannabidiol can improve the signs of arthritis in dogs. However, the amount of benefit appears smaller than other proven treatments.

Cannabidiol is available as a Schedule 4 prescription drug in Australia. It does not cause sedation or psychological disturbances. Read more about the use of medicinal cannabis in dogs here.

Supplements & Home Remedies

Heres a list of other supplements we see being used in dogs. Only the first one has enough evidence to recommend use.

  • Green lipped mussel extract
  • Glucosamine & chondroitin
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
  • Turmeric (curcumin)
  • Undenatured collagen
  • Avocado & soya unsaponifiables
  • Rosehip oil

The evidence for green-lipped mussel or GLM is only low-grade but it fits with our clinical experience. Most Australian vets use one of two purified products, Antinol and 4Cyte.

4cyte arthritis treatment

Most vets believe that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of glucosamine or chondroitin supplements in dogs. In particular, any improvement in a study without a placebo group needs to treated very suspiciously. You can read a recent review here.

Dog Stem Cells

There is some evidence that fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells can relieve the signs of canine arthritis. Based on this, we administered stem cell therapy to dogs between 2012 and 2015, with some success.

We stopped because the majority of our patients showed minimal improvement. We feel that until there is more clinical evidence, the cost and effort are better spent elsewhere.

Other Remedies

We should never overlook other ways of treating arthritis. First among these is weight loss. I have seen dogs who were still in pain on maximum doses of everything then come off all treatments after successfully losing weight. That’s why I’m a bit too much of a nag about it.

The same goes for moderating the exercise. Still throwing the tennis ball may be what your old Kelpie wants, but they are likely to suffer for it over the rest of the day. Far better to go for long, steady, low-impact walks than too much running or jumping on bad joints. Dogs need you to tell them when to stop.

There is only limited evidence for cold laser treatment, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic or other alternative remedies. All I will say is this: if it’s working, keep doing it.

By ‘working’ I don’t mean, “he’s looking much more energetic”. I mean being able to show that your dog can definitely do something specific after treatment that they couldn’t do before. Having a good working definition of success like that should minimise any caregiver placebo bias.

Thanks for reading this most important topic. If you want to dive deeper, visit our page on the causes and symptoms of arthritis.

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

65 Replies to “What Can I Give My Dog For Arthritis?”

  1. Hello, Thank you for a great and honest article for dogs. I have a a dog foster and rescue here in the USA. For senior dogs. I deal with a lot of dogs in pain from injuries and old age issues. I have come to know thru trial and error what works to help them get thru a day with as little pain as possible. I started using a product that weight lifters have been using safely for years. It’s for muscle health and seems to work in dogs who lose muscle tone (especially in their rear legs). Right now I have a 15 yr lab who suffered a knee injury and developed rear leg weakness as a result. I use carprofen for pain and Creatine for muscle health and development. Combined with non weight bearing exercises. His rear (weak) muscles are returning and he bares weight better on the injured side. I just wanted to offer this idea to your list of alternative therapies so others might find it useful….thanks

    1. Hi Andrew. If you use creatine, you’ll want to be very careful not to give too much as it will put extra stress on the kidneys. It’s not in the main article as there’s no evidence to support its use, but it should be harmless if used in appropriate amounts.

  2. Hello,
    I have 2 Maltese x Poodle boys, 12.5yr olds. One has arthritis and the other has long-term pain in his shoulders – is a very stiff boy but is hard to assess at the vet due to his aggression. The one with arthritis has started showing signs of pain in some joints. My vet has recommended starting them on either 4cyte or antinol. But I just can’t choose, are they even likely to provide pain relief? or are they more of a supplement vitamin with the potential to assist in slowing the degradation of the joints? My research is drawing a blank, I can’t find anything with placebos involved in the trials) I would greatly appreciate your advice and expertise as to how to help their pain. Unfortunately, I am very limited in vet options where I am.

    1. Hi Sharnie. You’ve done a good job with limited resources. The two products you mention are indeed lacking in good quality placebo-controlled studies. They probably have some effect, but it appears to be minor. Of much greater efficacy will be the products listed elsewhere on this page; of particular note are the anti-inflammatories, JD and the monoclonal antibody known in your country as Librela.

  3. Hi Andrew,
    Great article thank you!
    My question is I am adopting a 2 year old Labrador who lost her leg at 12 weeks of
    Age due to a fractured elbow.
    She uses the remaining legs well without any signs of pain.
    Current owners feed her Royal Canin Labrador & have never used any joint supps.
    Do you think it would be worth adding a joint supp to her diet? (The Royal Canin helps keep her skin and coat in great condition so worried about changing to a joint diet)
    Would it be worth giving a supp with her food and every 6 months cartrophen or synovan injections as a preventative for arthritis developing on other joints?
    Or do you think this is overloading & see how she goes in life?

    1. Hi Jenny. I can’t see a benefit with using joint supplements preventatively, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it if they were extremely safe, like the products you mention. After all, there isn’t much research done on this situation.

      1. Thanks Andrew!
        I’ve had her for a month now & she’s never shown any pain or discomfort. She’s also extremely fast when chasing a tennis ball, you would never know she has 3 legs whilst running!
        Do you still highly recommend the hills j/d diet? And would you recommend this as diet instead of the Royal Canin Labrador shes on, or again you think no point if she isn’t showing any joint discomfort?

      2. Please mention to Jenny who adopted 2 year old Labrador with 3 legs to stop throwing a tennis ball for her dog to get injured with. People do not realize the zest that dogs have for a tennis ball, stick, any other thing to play fetch with…the problem is the dog immediately turns to get back to their owner and now is set up to injure themselves with the quick turn around.

  4. My 10 yo Border Collie has struggled to get up and walk the last few weeks from severe OA and is in a lot of pain. Even with the meloxicam 3.5mg daily, gabapentin 400mg 2x day, 333mg panadol 2x day and sometimes one of my 100mg tramadol ER’s.
    A couple days ago he had an injection of Beransa and within 24hrs he is getting up, walking around and even jumping onto the couch.
    I’m literally blown away from the change. I honestly went to the vets with the intention of getting a script for an opioid like tramadol or putting him to sleep. Now he’s happy again.

    1. Hi Travis. When I started reading about your problems, my mind was already turning towards mentioning the new injection, so I was very pleased when it became a report on how well it went. It’s nice to have something new to help these poor doggies. I just haven’t heard it under that name – we call it Librela.

  5. Great info thanks. I like your comment re measurable improvement. For my old girl (11 yo amstaff), I noticed she could scratch behind her ears again after starting Meloxicam and also her scritch spots reactivated (crazy leg kicking when chest is scritched). She had been too locked up to do either for quite some time beforehand. She is also now more able to do some low level romping with other dogs which she loves. I actually find for her she is better off doing the romping (she’s not very fast or agile so it’s a moderate romp) than a slow speed plod around the block as the latter doesn’t seem to help her mobility at all but the former definitely does, and she won’t walk fast enough to get any cardio benefit when walking but does when having her romp. I guess they are all different!

  6. Dr. Andrew thank you for all your information. My 4 yr old Am staff mix has had on and off issues with her right rear leg for almost 2 years. So in October of 2020, she went lame for a day on that right rear, we went to the vet, they said it could be a ruptered ccl. The following day or two days after the vet visit she was walking back to normal. It remained normal for most of the next full year. Plenty of big hikes and lots of miles with no problems.
    This year, especially this summer, she seems to really be getting more and more light footed and less willing to go on big walks or even medium walks. Hikes or climbs would only seem to aggravate the leg. We’ve scaled back a lot to easy shorter walks. Mostly it’s noticeable after shes laying on the floor for a while and then gets up , it takes a minute or two for limp to lighten up. When we get up in the morning off the bed, surprisingly, she seems good for the first hour. But after she lays down again, you can notice the uneasy setting of weight to that right leg. Could this be arthritis? Possibly an after effect of a torn or ruptured ccl from nearly two years ago? For a couple years there were just a few issues here and there, and wouldn’t think anything of it because of her level of energy and level of activity. Now it seems every day i notice the light footedness around the house and yard. She’ll go from that to walking full bore normal on the lead at times especially when she catches a scent, so it is very confusing as sometimes she walks perfectly normal and wagging her tail.

    1. Hi Aaron. It could be arthritis but even if so, at such a young age there’s probably an underlying reason. If it’s a CCL rupture or torn meniscus, surgery will be beneficial, but the longer it’s delayed the worse the leg gets and the smaller the benefit. Therefore I would get the problem properly investigated soon.

  7. Hi Andrew,

    Stumbled upon this great article on nightshift, thank you for it!

    I have an 8.5yr old Rottweiler with severe arthritis in his right elbow from injury as a young dog. I’ve been treating him for years with monthly Synovan injections, 4Cyte to start then switched to Antinol after he showed improvement on it, hydrotherapy and carprofen when needed.

    Unfortunately now he is at the stage where he needs daily pain relief, he was going well but injured his back recently (runs about like a lunatic, jumped off a deck) the trauma of that put extra strain on his joints and he’s become a very lame boy. I had him xrayed all over to rule out nasties and its definitely just his arthritis, we’ve started with daily Carprofen and Gabapentin which is helping a little, he’s still very stiff at the minute, didn’t help that he galloped after some random cat that appeared in my yard when I took him out the other day, so I’m giving it a couple of days to get over that episode before I contact his vet again to see if we should try something else instead.

    I’m glad to read you recommend the Hills j/d as I’ve just ordered a bag of that too and a theraputic ceramic infused coat from “back on track”, (we’re ex South Australians living in Ballarat, it gets cold here! haha) hopefully we’ll have some relief with them too.

    He is already of excellent body weight, he was a very active dog, and still wants to be, it’s heartbreaking to see him so sore and a nightmare trying to keep him quiet :/

    Thank you again for the article, if you have any other ideas or recommendations for me to try please let me know and I’ll chat with my vet about them.

    Kind regards


    1. Hi Court. My only comments are to keep trying other combinations. For example, the anti-inflammatory you’ve chosen is good, but there are probably more efficacious ones. Also, gabapentin is a controversial drug for pain relief, and although I use it, I suspect that amantadine may work better. Also, there is a monoclonal antibody coming on the market in the next year so hopefully you’ll get to use that too.

      1. Thanks so much for the info Andrew, I’ll have a chat with my vet about it. The monoclonal antibodies sound very interesting. His lameness has improved since I wrote but he is still obviously sore. We’ve still got a lot up our sleeve to try thankfully.
        Thank you again, have a great day 🙂

    2. Hi Court
      I feel your pain. After a near crippled dog, not able to walk almost at all (ps not in my care) – I now have an active dog, running and very happy – in order if importance 1. Loxicam pain relief – 2. Weight loss – almost skinny, 3. Daily walks twice a day but not running after balls, 4. Pentosan injection 5. Antinol, 6. Cyte Gel $ though, 7. Omega oils ie Animal Health, 8. MSM. I read every blog – watched every video on osteoarthritis for dogs – love my guy

  8. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for this informative article. My 15 year old kelpie has recently been diagnosed with kidney disease based on elevated creatinine (1.3 three weeks ago up to 1.5 this week) following the proheart shot two months ago (his bloods were totally normal six months ago). He has had arthritis for a few years now and was responding well to cartrophen. Since the proheart shot he has been noticeably slower and stiffer on walks and his walks are suddenly down from 20-30 mins to 5-10 mins. He is no longer enthusiastic when I get out the lead which is a big change. I don’t know if the timing of the proheart shot is just a very unfortunate coincidence. Can arthritis just suddenly worsen like that? He had a cartrophen injection a month ago and it seemed to give him a little bit of relief for a few days. I have been to a couple of vets and one has recommended melaxacam and gabapentan, and the other has recommended gabapentan only because of his creatinine levels. Given it didn’t work overly well last time, I don’t know if it’s worth trying another shot of cartrophen, and if so is there any risk to his kidneys? Is it time to move onto NSAIDs even with his kidney disease? He’s obviously in a bit of pain now so I just want him to feel better and be able to enjoy his walks again.

    1. Hi Clare. I’m sorry to hear about your old boy. In my view the Proheart injection is very unlikely to have caused the changes (it’s really just a depot of moxidectin). Yes, arthritis can worsen very quickly, as happened with my own dog. Regarding the future, I have recently moved my boy with similar issues onto Galliprant for its promoted safety to the kidney, and I would recommend you do the same. I would still do follow-up blood testing to be sure of course. NSAIDs remain the most powerful way to control the signs of arthritis in dogs, and this might give you an opportunity to see them in action with a reasonable degree of safety. To this you could certainly add gabapentin and pentosan (e.g. Cartrophen) but these will have lower efficacy.

      1. Thanks so much for your kind reply. I’ve been feeling really guilty about the proheart which I was very reluctant to get in the first place, and it’s good to know it’s likely not to blame. Just another question, is nexguard (tick and flea only, not spectra) ok to give with his kidney issues? I’ve heard it’s not metabolised so much by the kidneys but mostly by the liver. His ALT was elevated after the proheart but was back in normal range on the second blood test thankfully. I’m sorry to hear about your old boy too. It’s hard sometimes watching them get old but they’re so loved and we’ll all be there one day. I hope the Galliprant is making him feel better! I haven’t heard of it before but it sounds great, I’ll ask my vet about it. Thanks again for the helpful advice.

      2. Hi again. The nexgard and similar products should be reasonably safe regardless of kidney function, but if there’s no need to use them (i.e. there is no risk of flea or tick infestation) it’s still worth stopping anything that’s not necessary.

  9. Have an 8 year old lab who all of a sudden cannot stand on his back Legs. Seems to be in some pain. Our vet did x-rays and could not find any thing wrong. Thinks he may have a sprain or myopathy. This happened over night. Can you shed more light on this for me

  10. Andrew, in your article above you state “Most Australian vets use one of two purified products, Antinol and 4Cyte.”

    There are two products from 4CYTE – — 4CYTE Canine and 4CYTE Forte. Have you a view on the 4CYTE Forte as the photo with your article shows 4CYTE Canine. Is the efficacy of both products backed by sound research?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jane. That’s a good question, although I have no opinion on the difference between the two products. 4Cyte has only recently been studied, and as yet there is no placebo-controlled blinded study. We have two smaller lower quality studies: one which demonstrates non-inferiority to an older anti-inflammatory at sub-maximal doses, and another which shows improvement but without a placebo group. Both studies were conducted well, and show promising results. I anticipate that better quality studies will confirm their findings.

  11. Hello, can my dog have the arthritis injections in conjunction with taking 4cyte?

  12. My 13 y.o. Shepard mix had surgery two years ago. His hind end is very weak. He is taking Galliprant 60 mg 1xdaily and just started Gabapentin 300 mg 2xdaily. Can he also take a supplement with green lipped mussels? He is not unwell, just weak and needs assistance getting up. I love this mutt, and wish him only happy days. Thank you.

    1. Hi Wendy. Yes, you can certainly add a green lipped mussel supplement. If it’s available in your country, a course of pentosan injections might help too.

  13. Hi My 13 yo labrador/kelpie cross has severe hip dysplacia,the extend of which wasnt discovered until he was recently desexed due to testicular cancer.Ever since the op 3months ago he has become an old man,no more throwing the ball.He is extremely unsteady on his feet.He currently is on gabapentin,2 x daily ,x 300mg.As well as carprofen 100mg,2 x daily.I have heard gabapentin has the side effect of unsteadiness.He has a serious tremor in one of his back legs.

    1. Hi Wendy. The dose of gabapentin your dog is on is not normally a problem, but you could try giving a single capsule instead of two and see if there’s any difference in the unsteadiness. Otherwise, you can only try the other options listed on this page. For example, I think that firocoxib works better than carprofen, but every vet has a different opinion on this. Good luck.

  14. Hi, I have a 14 yo kelpie that has had severe arthritis in one hip since age 5. Her diet has been homemade since then and cartrophen injections regularly. I’ve kept the weight off her and changed runs to swims and she’s had a Great life, with some help getting into car etc.. However now she is getting older I’m starting with meloxicam with no visible side effects. I just want her to be pain free. Does anyone know if meloxicam provides opioid style pain relief? Or is it similar to us taking an Advil? I want her to be happy to totally pain free in her final months / years

    1. Hi Jazz. Meloxicam is more like the Advil than an opioid, though as you probably already know, ibuprofen is toxic to dogs. There isn’t a good oral opioid in dogs unless you count tramadol but gabapentin appears to give similar results.

  15. Hi Andrew,

    I was wondering if anyone got in touch re quality cannabis oil source for dogs please? We have a beautiful 11 year old English Staffie, who has arthritis. We have tried all of the suggested medications / supplements and have him on a very strict diet to maintain a healthy and lean weight. I feel that things have plateaued and that we could be doing more. I have researched cannabis oil and would really love to give it a go… your advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks ☺️

    1. Hi Chantelle. I have seen some clients using it, but I’m not sure from where they are sourcing it or if it is indeed legal to be supplied in Australia. Sorry I can’t be more help. I would also give a warning that every new product such as this comes with a lot of hype but no evidence which makes it very hard to assess the truth of any claims.

  16. Hi, I have a 11 year old Staffie who is on monthly injections (cartrophen) and has just started on Antinol about a week ago. She has suffered severe diarrhea since starting the Antinol, she seems quite distressed about it although is not vomiting, should I stop this and advise the vet.

    1. Hi Sara. Diarrhoea can be a side-effect of many medications – I would definitely stop and talk to your vet.

  17. Hello Andrew,

    My precious 12 .75 year old Maltese schitzu has just managed to achieve a CrCL rupture! I’ve no idea how, I think he may have twisted it when he shook himself as that’s all I saw. Then he couldn’t ground his rear R leg.

    He’s not a candidate for surgery / anaesthetic as we discovered last year. They think he may have Cushings (very enlarged liver), some not good blood test results & heart murmur that seems to remain constant. X-rays show some osteo in his Left knee, but apart from that he was good & happy.

    Now he’s stuffed his good leg & is definitely not happy. Can barely walk or stand, I’m carrying him out for toilet.

    I’ve got Metacam & 4CYTE for him, and have ordered a knee brace.

    After the long winded story, my question. What is your recommendation on how best to non-surgically treat a ruptured CL.

    I feel so inadequate & it breaks my heart seeing him like this, but I also don’t see Time Up for him just yet.

    Thank you in anticipation

    Simba’s Mum

    1. Hi Karen. I would certainly try the non-surgical treatment mentioned in our page on cruciate disease. However, you might be surprised to hear that I also haven’t heard enough yet to stop me doing surgery. I’ve operated successfully on dogs up to 16 years of age, with no owner regrets and no deaths. The risk may be higher, but still acceptably low if the heart is functionally normal, and cushings disease, while a risk, is easily managed. I’d be interested to hear if the knee brace is effective, as I’ve been quite negative about these up to now.

    2. Thanks for your reply Andrew. I’ll certainly absorb your information.

      Earlier last year he was to have a small growth near his anus removed & after pre-op tests they told me they weren’t happy to give him anaesthetic. He’s a very good little dog so one cuddled him, they gave him locals, removed & stitched.

      On the basis of that, I’m not inclined to think it’s safe now.

      I’ve now had a read of your page on cruciate disease.

      I note you say small dogs < 10 kg do have a chance of recovery without surgery . Simba is 7kg & part of that will be the enlarged liver.

      You also recommended the pentosan injections. These were an option in the sheet I was given, but I wasn't advised that one was better than the other, & since I was told to keep him calm and restricted, I didn't think dragging him weekly in and out of house, car, vet etc was the wiser choice, so I elected to go with the 4CYTE & Metacam.

      In your opinion, should I do the injections ? Does that mean stopping the above ? One or both ?

      The brace arrived today, but I can't get on by myself. It's got so many straps & fittings, and he's so small that it's too fiddly. Plus I think I was hurting his leg as he growled ( just a warning, not fiercely) . Guess I'll have to go back to Vet & hope someone can help me.

      Thank you again.

      1. Oh ok – thank you – are you saying he can have the injections as well as the other treatments (he doesn’t like the 4CYTE – I have to wrap it in ham!!)
        Although tonight it seems his appetite may be coming back so things may change.

        He’s had the brace on today ( with help of vet) he’s never used before & im not sure it was on correctly, but at least it gave some restriction today.

        It’s off now and he’s actually snoring! Best sleep in days I think ! ( he did do a tiny weight bearing walk while off)

  18. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve had my 8kg Bichon poodle cross on Cartropen injections every 3 months as well as Previcox daily (he has an adverse reaction to Meloxicam). He developed quite bad diarrhoea after using Previcox every day for 5 weeks. Our vet then took him off Previcox and popped him on to Tramadol for 5 days with a Pro Kolin pre and probiotic, which worked well. Today I gave him his first dose of 4cyte Forte in liquid form, however he was in more pain than usual, and upon investigating, their website states that it acts on anti inflammatory chemicals, which I don’t understand. How could a produc work if it takes away the anti inflammatory aspect? Lastly would Antinol be a better choice?

    1. Hi Brenda. My opinion is that it’s important to compare apples with apples. Whether you use 4cyte or Antinol, the effect is likely to be the same, and Tramadol isn’t thought to do much better. However, that effect is so much less than a well-tolerated anti-inflammatory that I’d keep trying to find one that’s tolerated. Carprofen (similar name, very different drug) often goes well as long as you check liver enzymes after you use it for a few weeks. Around one in 50 dogs get unacceptable liver damage with prolonged use.

  19. Hi,
    Great article!
    I have an 11yo Pomeranian Cross (8kg, inside dog) who started on Antinol about 4 months ago due to stiffness on rising in his back legs. About 2 months ago he became reluctant to weight bear on his front left leg. He had 4 x weekly cartrophen injections, after the first injection there was a noticeable improvement, which tapered off over the coming week. After the 2nd, 3rd & 4th injection there was no obvious improvement.
    It’s now been two weeks since the last injection & he’s worse than ever. Reluctant to walk around the house, wants to be picked up & carried instead. Holds the left paw off the ground when sitting or standing still, limps when he does reluctantly walk. He’s scheduled for another cartrophen injection in two weeks time. The last two days I’ve given him a carprofen tablet to help with pain. Any other suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Denise. My advice is that there’s not much point in repeating the cartrophen course early, and that you really should get x-rays done of this leg. It’s not typical for an 11-year-old Pomeranian to have such a problem and so I would be wanting to rule out other conditions before I settle on it being arthritis. Then if so, it’s certainly likely that you will need anti-inflammatories such as the ones you have tried.

      1. Many thanks Andrew for the prompt response & advice. I’ll try an X-ray and see what that shows us. Thanks again.

  20. Hi there,
    I have a 11 year old female german shepherd (Sam) who has early stages of Arthritis according to the vet after a recent check up. All i have noticed myself is sometimes she is slow to get up, but not so if food is involved or going out in the car lol. She is in good health overall. They have recommended as an option Arthropen to help curb the Arthritis. She does have some muscle wastage in hind legs due to her not doing a lot during the day. She likes to chase the ball outside in our small backyard for about 5-10mins. I may look at walking her only from now on and throw the ball a couple of times for her enjoyment.

    Currently we have been giving her a Glucosamine & Chondroitin every day for a while now (Last 8-12 months). So getting to my question, being budget minded I am thinking about whether the Hills j/d diet might be okay on its own (+ supplement?) like if it is almost as good as Arthropen? even if a little expensive the diet would combine costs of food and treatment rolled into one?

    She is near her life expectancy give or take another 2 years (I read avg life is about 11-14), will the Arthritis accelerate as she gets older even while on Hills j/d diet + Supplement? or would the rate be reduced enough to have a quality of life within the next 2 years. I mean if she was younger with Arthritis the diet might not be effective in the long term but Sam is already 11.
    Or would Arthropen on its own be the most effective means to give her the best quality of life, period? I know there are no definite answers with health, but your thoughts on this would be helpful in deciding.
    (And sorry for lengthy write up.)

    1. Hi Darian. There are so many points here!
      Firstly, the muscle wastage is not from inactivity, it is almost certainly from arthritis, which means it’s more severe than you think.
      Secondly, stiffness or slowness on rising is often the only sign you will get for early arthritis. As it is usually a pain response, it goes away when the dog is distracted by something else, hence not seeing it chasing a ball or when food is around. Just like if you had a bad headache and someone told you you’d won the lottery.
      Thirdly, there’s no way of judging the lifespan but 11 is not that old. I certainly never try to choose my treatments based on how long they will live as this can really come back to bite you in the bum later if you didn’t choose wisely. Especially if you end up having to euthanase Sam because of not being able to get up, which is common and usually due to arthritis.
      Fourthly, sorry to say this but glucosamine and chondroitin were probably a waste of time and money.
      Fifth, yes the treatments you have been recommended are very good and designed to slow progression of arthritis. This means that the dogs that take them should have better joints than the dogs that don’t in the years to come, as well as being more comfortable throughout.
      6th, it’s possible that using just one of them will give enough benefit, but I agree with your vet in doing both. That’s exactly what I’ve just started doing with my old dog showing exactly the same signs.
      7th, for medicine on a budget, these two may give the best bang for your buck, but please don’t reject the idea of anti-inflammatories down the track. Generic carprofen only costs a dollar a day for very good pain control and is probably cheaper than JD, just not quite as safe. However, when the pain increases, the small risks are worth taking.
      Finally, if you do choose just one, the J.D. may be the better choice. At least you’ll be doing something. Good luck

      1. Thanks for your time and reply Andrew. Just to clarify your answers..
        Are you recommending the JD Hills diet over Arthopen with a budgeting perspective? I guess a supplement on top of that be helpful too? Like the Green lipped mussel extract you mentioned in your article?

      2. No, I’m recommending both but I would choose j/d over Arthropen if I could only use one. GLM is OK but not equivalent.

  21. Hi I have a 12 year mareema cross German Shepard. She has been finding it hard to get up latterly. She weighs 30kg and has just started a course of zydax injections. She has just had her third injection. I am wondering if this drug is effective for a dog of her age. She is not showing any signs of improvement, how long does it usually take to show improvement? We also have her on osteocare tablets 2 weeks in doing the 2 tablets a day at the moment. Would love to her your thoughts Thanks jo

    1. Hi Jo. Zydax, or any pentosan injection, may not work well in large dogs above 12 years of age where their arthritis is more severe. I would certainly have tried it too but I usually warn owners that I expect to also add an anti-inflammatory based on response. Otherwise the improvement often seems unsatisfactory. You can read more about anti-inflammatories above.

  22. We have a much loved nearly 13 year old German Shepherd. She’s been on cartrofen injections for nearly 2 years. We use a ramp to get her out of the car but she gets too agitated to go up it so we park so the car is on a slope so she can jump in. She demands a walk every day, not very far but the ride in the car is the real reason I think. She gets a bit tangled up sometimes when walking on slopes.
    Our vet is very good with her and has said she is losing muscle as the arthritis prolongs.
    She is well apart from that, she has always eaten sparingly and weighs about 41 -42k.. of course she is old and sleeps a lot, is an inside dog and doesn’t like change.
    My question of course is what else can we do? She doesn’t seem to be in pain but is getting slower. Any advice you can give would be welcome.

  23. hi andrew i have a 9yr old am staffy 32kg my vet put him on synovan injections on 3rd injection weekly intervals 2 hrs after injection he started a bleed through his pennis took him straight back vet then carried out a blood test which came back as ok he preformed aultra sound and put him on anti biotics due to holidays he has booked him into have an exra in 4 days time says he suspects prostate cancer or bladder cancer i am very worried i took him to this vet because he is close to my home never had any bleeds before injection can u give me your thoughts thanks

    1. Hi George. Although rare, pentosan has been known to cause clotting problems so it’s best to stop the Synovan until the results of the tests are known. However, the most common cause of bleeding from the penis in an entire male dog is benign prostatic bleeding (which responds well to desexing so hopefully this is the cause). If on the other hand your dog is castrated, prostatic cancer is more common, so I’m hoping the ultrasound will be clear. Good luck.

  24. This was quite helpful, I have a 10yo 57kg Alaskan Malamute, he has had one round of Cartrophen about 12 months ago, and is likely due for more as he is struggling with steps and ramps after walking. I will give the Hill’s food a go to help, he could stand to lose a little weight, but Malamutes are very efficient eaters, he can maintain his weight on portions meant for dogs half his size, and with his arthritis he can’t walk long distances anymore, so that is a challenge.

  25. Hello Andrew,
    I’ve just found your website by accident, and have to say it’s one of the most informative I’ve found – I’m talking Australia. Most other sites seem to be located in America.
    We have a 15 yr old Toller, with some arthritis and wasting in hind legs. He enjoys a short walk (at his pace) once the temperature has risen. He doesn’t limp while walking, but sometimes one or other of his hind legs collapses, so we wait, then go on. I know there’s not much can be done for muscle wasting and, of course, he doesn’t whine or complain, but I’d like to do more if I can. He had Synovan, in combination with Onsior, which he didn’t tolerate as he has irritable bowel issues. His weight is constant around 18.5ks. Spleen was removed some 4 yrs ago, and he does have a mild heart murmur. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    1. Hi Evelyn. Thanks for the question. You’ve certainly made some good choices. I would keep looking for that anti-inflammatory that he will tolerate, as for him it will probably produce the greatest benefit. The list is in the article but I would start with good old carprofen if robenacoxib isn’t tolerated. Also, keep using the Synovan and letting him dictate the pace & speed of his walks. Good luck!

    2. Muscle waste can be a dign of kidney failure. This can be diagnosed with a blood test. My border collie suffered from.kidney failure.

  26. Your article on artheritis in dogs intertest me. I have a 7.2kl Westie who has just had xrays showing small areas of the dreaded A in patches down her right rear leg.
    Is it possible to be sent the artice in an email so my partner can read it too, he is not keen on reading on the computer so I need to have a hard copy.

    1. Thanks for your interest in the article Susanne – I have sent a copy. If you want to receive future posts via email you can sign up via the link at the bottom of the posts and they are sent out in advance of Facebook.

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