Which Arthritis Medicine Is Right For Your Pet?

Spring is a season of rapidly changing weather patterns, which inevitably changes our pattern of activity. While most of our pets love being outdoors and getting to run and play, many are prone to arthritis and can be out of shape after a long, cold winter. Increases in activity levels, longer or more frequent walks, and more space to run can lead to soreness, stiffness, and even joint or soft tissue injuries.

In these incidents of pain and stiffness, it can be very tempting to reach for a bottle of pain medication from our own medicine cabinets. If a medication is good enough for me, it should be fine for my dog or cat, right? Some over the counter medications are great options for treating a variety of ailments in our pets. ( that-can-be-used-on-pets)

On the other hand, several pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can cause severe damage to internal organs and may even be fatal. Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), and aspirin should not be used in animals. While some may recommend aspirin as a safe treatment option, there are more effective and safer products on the market. Aspirin can be okay as a short-term treatment until the animal can be assessed by a veterinary professional, but it should not be given long term and can adversely affect the digestive system. Keep in mind that OTC medications may interact with other medications the pet is currently taking. Be sure to list all medications and supplements they are on when discussing a new treatment option with your veterinarian.

There are also several options to support joint health in animals without using medications. Several different tablets and chews are available with glucosamine and chondroitin to help lubricate the joints. There are also foods, both over the counter and prescription varieties, with joint supplements in them. Many people find that adding ramps to help with climbing, rugs to cover slippery floors, and orthopedic beds will greatly improve an arthritic pet’s quality of life. For more helpful hints around the house, see the article “10 Ways to Help an Arthritic Dog.” (

As always, we are here to help make your pet as healthy and comfortable as possible. If there is ever any question or concern about a medication, please do not hesitate to ask us. If a pet’s acute pain does not improve within a day or two, it is important to have him or her examined for an underlying injury or disease. Lyme disease is very common in this area and can manifest as intermittent joint pain and stiffness. Our team can explain how this disease is transmitted by ticks and how to protect your pet with flea/tick preventatives and vaccines. Look for more information about Lyme disease, prevention and testing to be posted soon.