Unfortunately there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Treatment aims to allow pets to use the affected joint or joints without pain. There is no single approach to treatment that is successful in every case, and most dogs and cats need a multi-modal approach, including:
- Pain relief; osteoarthritis can be painful, and so in some animals long term medication is needed. Although long term medication can have a risk of side effects, this risk must be balanced against pain from the osteoarthritis if the medication is not given.
- Exercise; whilst exercise can cause discomfort in the short term, exercise is important to keep pets fit and healthy. There is no golden rule as to how much exercise an animal with osteoarthritis can have, as all patients are different; instead, exercise levels need to be tailored to the individual animal.
- Weight control; pets that are an ideal weight have fewer painful episodes and slower progression of osteoarthritis than overweight animals
- Food supplements; glucosamine, chondroitin and green lipped muscle extract have been proposed to help treat osteoarthritis. While the effect may not be dramatic small improvements may be seen
- Diet; diets containing omega-3-fatty acids may have a natural anti-inflammatory action which may help to relieve discomfort associated with osteoarthritis
- Therapy; physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are important in the treatment of osteoarthritis. They can be used to build muscle, improve joint use, and reduce muscle stiffness as well as being good exercise. These therapies need to be discussed carefully with your Vet initially, to avoid making painful joints worse.