As technology and the quality of veterinary medicine improves, many pets are living to older ages. This has created a new problem of pain control for arthritis - just as in many of us (including me!) What can we safely give to our friends to improve their comfort and quality of life?
For starters, let\'s discuss what not to give them. In past years. we used various anti-inflammatories such as cortisone, aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen. Currently none of these are considered safe to use on a long-term basis for arthritis. Aspirin and ibuprofen can cause serious stomach ulcerations and intestinal bleeding. Tylenol can be extremely toxic, and is commonly fatal to cats. Cortisone has many wonderful applications, but long-term usage causes many very serious side effects!
One of the newer medications available for our dogs is Rimadyl (carprofen). This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) approved specifically for dogs. Although in the ibuprofen class of drugs, it is more selective and much safer than ibuprofen. Specifically, it is a cox-2 inhibitor (just as Vioxx is for humans). This means that it selectively neutralizes the class 2 prostaglandins that cause muscle pain, arthritis, and fever; but it does not affect the class 1 prostaglandins that are protective to the stomach and intestine. So now we can control arthritis and pain in our dogs with minimal side effects.
Although Rimadyl can occasionally cause side effects (most medications do!), proper veterinary supervision can reduce these problems to be extremely rare. Early side effects include vomiting/and or diarrhea, at which point the medication should be stopped. To minimize risk, we always perform periodic liver and kidney blood tests to insure safety for your pet. Having frequently prescribed this medication for over 8 years, I have not observed one case of a serious problem!
As responsible pet owners, we owe it to our pets to give them the very best quality of life that we can. Preventing the aches and pains of arthritis and old age can add many healthy and happy years to our pets\' lives! Call us today for more information.