Q: I own an English Sheepdog. He is 11 years old and approximately 80 lbs. I give him a 100mg of Rimadyl in the morning and a 100mg at night because of his arthritis in his hips. I can tell that he is in pain and would like to know if there is a different medication that you would recommend?
A: Many older dogs suffer from some form of osteoarthritis, especially of the hips. In many cases, surgery is not a practical option, so the pain and immobility must be managed medically.
Medications such as Rimadyl fall into the class of NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and are very effective at reducing pain and inflammation. However, by themselves, they may not be enough to stop the pain.
A multi-modal approach to osteoarthritis is more effective, and means using a variety of medical treatments that all combine to minimize pain and improve mobility and quality of life. Because there are multiple drugs and treatments, doses of each medication can be reduced to minimize side effects.
Adding other classes of medication such as Tramadol and Gabapentin will help reduce the pain significantly. Adding some physical therapy to include electro-acupuncture, sessions on an underwater treadmill, therapeutic laser can be done on a weekly basis and will often result in remarkable improvement.
I encourage you to find a veterinarian who is on board with multi-modal treatment for osteoarthritis and start adding the additional medications and treatments that will help improve your dog’s quality of life. Many of these meds and treatments are not particularly expensive, so you should match them with what works for your budget.