Over the years I have seen thousands of supplements which claim to prevent or treat pain and arthritis in dogs and cats. Glucosamine and chondroitin being at the top of the list and more recently, CBD oil. Some of the ingredients I cannot come close to pronouncing. The reality is that none of these have ever been shown to actually have any benefits in regards to arthritis in any real clinical trial.

If you are my client and present me with one of these products, in most cases, my response will be that it probably cannot do any harm but has no benefit. The dangerous exception is “Canine aspirin”. Years ago when I was working at an ER in San Diego I saw a 120 plus pound German Shepherd that had a fatal bleeding stomach ulcer as a result of receiving 1 baby aspirin daily for 1 week. Most over-the- counter anti-inflammatory drugs for people are dangerous for dogs and cats. In addition, Aspirin has no benefit, it does not decrease pain or inflammation.

The bottom line is don’t waste your money! The single most beneficial way to decrease the progression of arthritis in dogs and cats is weight management. There is a lot of concrete evidence that obesity is the key external factor in the development of osteoarthritis. We can’t change your pets’ genetic makeup but you can add years to your pets quality of life by keeping him/her lean.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can be a challenge for some dogs and cats. It really isn’t much different than it is with us. Often I ask about what is being fed to a dog and it is usually a high quality diet as the main meal. When asked about treats the list is often long and many of the items on that list are terrible. If you have Pup-Peroni or anything equivalent, throw it away!! Chicken jerky that is “outsourced globally” (ie: made in China), treat it like toxic waste. Also, don’t be fooled by “packaged in the USA”. Some of these are unhealthy or just junk calories and the ingredients are probably not sourced here.

It can be difficult to navigate through the marketing tactics to get a true analysis of what you are feeding your pet. I recommend an independently owned pet food store where the selection is based on quality and the owner and staff are extremely knowledgeable and can guide you in your choices.

Exercise is not the cure for obesity but it is helpful with weight management and mentally stimulating for your dog. Even if you have a large yard for your dog to run in it is no replacement for a walk where they can investigate the world with their amazing nose.

Now cats are NOT small dogs. They are carnivores and all those fatty felines out there are addicted to carbs. I will discuss the feline diet in another article but it should be roughly 70% protein. High quality canned foods achieve close to this and most commercial dry foods do not. I will explain more of this in my article about urinary issues in cats but as far as weight management is concerned, canned food will greatly help manage the cats waistline and slow the progression of arthritis.

In conclusion, weight management is the most important factor in preventing and treating arthritis in dogs and cats. Avoid over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, especially aspirin, as it can be harmful. Instead, focus on feeding your pet high quality, protein-rich diets, and providing regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

In future articles, I will discuss other treatments for osteoarthritis and pain management in aging pets including joint injections, laser treatments, and nerve growth factor blockers. The goal is to help your furry friends live a happy and healthy life for as long as possible.