Pets with arthritis and a pooch dye job

Q: There are lots of new pain medications for people with
arthritis. Some of these now have been labeled as dangerous because
of their side effects. Are there new pain medications for dogs and
cats as well? Do they have any dangerous side effects?
Q: There are lots of new pain medications for people with arthritis. Some of these now have been labeled as dangerous because of their side effects. Are there new pain medications for dogs and cats as well? Do they have any dangerous side effects?

A: It seems as though lately we’ve heard a lot about FDA recalls of many analgesics. Some of these are the newer Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS). These medications are more potent than aspirin, and they don’t have many of the undesirable side effects of steroids.

The introduction of NSAIDS has been a welcome relief to many who suffer constant pain from degenerative joint disease.

Unfortunately, these drugs seem to have some side effects that FDA wants to reevaluate.

And yes, there are some newer NSAIDS available for pets.

Like the drugs formulated for people, these can give pets relief from some very painful conditions. But they, too, can have deleterious side effects in some patients.

Currently there are at least four of these medications popularly used for pets. Some have been advertised heavily, offering relief for older dogs with osteoarthritis. And truth is, many patients benefit tremendously from these medications.

But NSAIDs are not a panacea. And they do carry some health risks. Side effects may include upset stomach and vomiting, and in more serious cases, problems with liver disease or other systemic illness.

Because of this, veterinarians strongly recommend a blood panel be used to screen a pet’s general health before he or she starts a long-term regime of any of these medications.

Talk with your pet’s veterinarian if you are interested in any of these NSAIDS.

They can be a wonderful treatment for some pets, but they must be used cautiously.

Q: My parents both take glucosamine and chondroitin for their arthritis. They believe it helps them feel better. Are these medications ever used in dogs and cats? Are they safe?

A: Absolutely! Glucosamine and chondroitin are medications or nutritional supplements that help improve the health of the cartilage in the joints. And they aren’t the only substances of this type out there. Another, perna canaliculis, also helps to make joints healthier and happier.

Glucosamine has been used by veterinarians for many years. Its side effects are almost negligible, and it seems to work well for many patients.

Simply stated, glucosamine provides a nutrient that helps to pad existing cartilage in the joints. Here’s a simple description of how glucosamine and these other nutriceuticals work:

Bones in all joints are covered with soft tissue called cartilage. Cartilage is the shock absorber, the padding in the joint. It prevents bone-to-bone contact and allows free movement of the limbs. Cartilage covers the surface of the bones to allow pain free motion.

With age, cartilage erodes and becomes thinner, losing some of its cushion. Older animals and people often feel some pain in their joints because of the natural loss of cartilage over time.

Injuries, obesity, and certain medical conditions accelerate this erosion. If wear and tear is great enough, and the cartilage becomes too thin, the joint becomes painful. Glucosamine and other nutriceuticals help to thicken the existing cartilage, making it a more effective padding. The end result is a joint that’s less painful.

Talk to your veterinarian about these nutriceuticals and what they might do for your pooch or kitty cat.

Q: I have a friend who wants to color her dog’s fur. She plans to use her own regular hair coloring that she buys at the drug store. Is this safe? Are there any products out there that are made just for dogs?

A: I know of several people that have colored or tinted their dog’s fur. And I worry that some of these products could potentially cause excessive drying, allergies or other damage to the skin.

I always recommend that pet owners use pet-friendly products wherever possible. These are products that are made and safety tested for animals. Products such as these are usually found at pet stores. I just don’t know if hair color for women may cause problems with your friend’s dog. So tell your friend to ask her local pet store if they have any such products.

If your friend really wants to color her pooch’s fur, tell her to be very careful. If that dog has an allergic reaction to the chemicals, she might end up with more than just a bad hair day.

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