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Arthritis - What Now?

So your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis What now?...What is it?

So…arthritis? What now?

Otherwise known as “Wear-and-Tear Arthritis” or “Degenerative Joint Disease” (DJD), this is a painful, inflammatory and degenerative process, affecting one or several joints. There are many, many causes; not least ageing!

The end point of the disease is loss of articular cartilage, causing excruciating rubbing of bone on bone.

Can we cure it?

Modern medicine can do great things, but we cannot yet reverse established arthritic changes, nor regenerate lost cartilage (despite some internet claims for stem cell therapy). So: “No, we cannot cure it”.

Does that mean it is hopeless?

No! We can now do amazing things to help with all the negative quality of life issues arthritis causes. We can definitely help with:

  • joint pain
  • joint swelling
  • muscle loss
  • decreased range of movement
  • reluctance to exercise
  • improved enjoyment of life

Age is not a barrier to successful intervention. No animal should be left to suffer in silence – we must treat where we know there is a problem.

Standard of Care – the basics of treatment for all patients

  • Environmental Changes
  • Exercise moderation
  • Pain relief
  • Perfect Body Conditioning

Environmental Changes

Simple things like providing a nice, warm, flat bed without high edges, can make sleep much more comfy. Slippy floors can exacerbate pain for older larger dogs – many people resort to rugs everywhere! We can supply rubber boots which stop slipping really well, or if you prefer, on line there are rubber nails which can be affixed over the dogs’ own nails to increase grip.

Underfloor heat is a very helpful addition, if that is possible. Perhaps purchasing a heated under-bed mat might be worth considering – we can advise/supply. Providing a ramp to aid entry and exit from house/car can be immensely helpful also.

Cats with a back issue or arthritis may prefer a new low-profile litter tray, and may need water and food provided at ground level. Most modifications are common sense, but we have experience of them all – so do ask.

Exercise moderation

We aim to get your pet back to a good level of activity: it is important, however, to moderate the exercise especially in the early stages of treatment. We will advise on what is sensible on a case-by-case basis. 

Pain relief

Arthritis is painful – pets can hide discomfort, and struggle on uncomplaining: that does not mean they don’t hurt just like we do. Many, many owners may mistake “slowing down” as a sign of ageing: it may be of course, but more commonly it is a sign that they have back or joint pain. Showing restricted movement and appearing stiff on rising after rest is a classic arthritis symptom. We mustn’t ignore this useful clue, nor dismiss it as a minor problem. 

If we can observe the signs of pain, then pain is there!

We use several medications for pain: each has its’ own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These are often the core of any pain-management regime. In the main, they are safe and effective. Each requires metabolisation and elimination from the body: thus we insist that for safety sake, we check liver and renal function at least every six months. They can also on occasion cause ulceration in the bowel, so we may prescribe tummy protectors alongside these great drugs to reduce the likelihood of any problems in that regard.
  • Boswellia combined with Glucosamine and Chondritin sulphate (Nutraquin+): this supplement is of proven quality and is utterly free of adverse side effects. It both reduces pain, and offers some degree of long term protection to further joint degradation. In our opinion ALL our joint patients should be on this combination.
  • EPA/DHA: These highly anti-inflammatory components of fish oil are available in Vetenox, a stable oral liquid concentrate. Again, we believe ALL our joint patients will benefit from long-term administration of this product, as it too has no known side-effects. Most of the staff at Cedarmount Vets (of a certain age, LOL!) take the human version (Paradox), for their own joints: need we say more?
  • Tramadol: This opioid drug is remarkably safe in dogs and cats, although in actual fact its’ real efficacy has yet to be proven in our species. It does not cause delirium or constipation – common side effects in humans on tramadol
  • Paracetamol and codeine: there is a licensed and tested version of this combination for dogs: NOT CATS (it kills cats!). We frequently prescribe it alongside a more potent drug to improve pain management
  • Gabapentin, Amantadine, Amitriptyline: these are non-licensed drugs we occasionally resort to in very difficult cases
  • Cartrophen injection course: sometimes, particular patients benefit from a four week course of this drug. Effects are variable, but side effects are few. It has earned its’ place in our armoury against this disease
  • New monthly injection targets Nerve Growth Factor in arthritic joints: We have been delighted at the response to this new approach - really dramatic improvement in pain levels with increased comfort and mobility - and importantly - no side effects!

Perfect Body Conditioning

We recommend all dogs and cats, but especially those with joint disease, have a body condition of between 4/9 and 6/9. Our team of vet nurses are all available to advise on diet so we can optimise this important factor. Weight Clinic appointments are free of chargewhy not make an appointment now?

Additional modalities we recommend

Veterinary Physiotherapy

Including acupuncture, ultrasound and K Laser therapy​

We have an excellent working arrangement with a qualified veterinary physiotherapist who works within a unit fully equipped with hydrotherapy (swim and treadmill). Their website is https://vetrehabni.co.uk/  and for many of our patients a referral for physiotherapy can make a fantastic difference.

K Laser

This new treatment is a powerful additional tool. Made famous by sports starts like Rafal Nadal using it, it has now become main-stream and used widely in the National Health (for human patients of course). We use K-laser on a daily basis for many conditions, from osteoarthritis to post-op wound management. 


Hydrotherapy has many benefits including improvement in proprioception (balance and sensory awareness), increased joint range of movement, decreased pain perception, improvement in muscle strength and tone and an overall increase in the speed of recovery from injury or trauma. Hydrotherapy isn't just about going for a swim. It should be properly controlled and tailored to each individual patient. We can organise a referral to highly qualified hydrotherapy team, if it could be a suitable therapy for your pet.

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is the new buzzword in latest state-of-the-art therapy for difficult-to-manage cases.

We are excited to be able to offer Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet-Rich-Plasma treatments at Cedarmount.

Regenerative medicine is becoming widely accepted in human and veterinary medicine. More and more scientific studies are demonstrating the effectiveness of these treatments. Regenerative medicine uses the body's own cells to provide natural, and long-lasting benefits. There are a wide variety of potential uses.

Does your pet have?

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ligament or Tendon injuries
  • Muscle injuries
  • Post operative treatments
  • Chronic injuries

....then please ask us if your pet might benefit from this latest therapeutic option:

Blood Spinning / Platelet Rich Plasma

This novel treatment again hit the headlines through professional sportsmen and women using it. We now offer Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment using the RegenVet system, on a one-sedation basis. We can discuss the merits on a case-by-case basis. 

Stem Cell Therapy

This therapy promises great things, and some of these great things are now available to our patients. Using the RegenVet system we can collect Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells and treat the affected area under a single anaesthetic. This system allows combination of PRP and Stem cells to provide long lasting natural anti-inflammatory benefits. Adipose-derived stem cell therapy can also be used (please note this combination requires 2 procedures, approximately 2 weeks apart). 

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