In January we discussed Solensia, a new mechanism for helping cats with osteoarthritis pain. Arthritis is a common ailment in dogs, and we will expand upon an older, underutilized, but effective medication for arthritis relief.
Arthritis control usually involves a combination of diet, oral supplements, anti-inflammatories, acupuncture, laser therapy, and disease-modifying drugs. Use of supplements such as Dasuquin and Cosequin and anti-inflammatories including Rimadyl and Galliprant is commonplace, but there’s an additional medication which should be considered. Dietary supplements may help some, but their reach is limited. The anti-inflammatories may help with discomfort, but fail to address the underlying problem: the arthritis itself.
Timing of starting therapy for arthritis may also be important. Cartilage covers the surfaces of many joints, including the elbows, knees, hips, and shoulders. This material provides cushioning between the bones and joint fluid around them helps the bones slide readily over one another. In arthritis this cartilage is worn down or even completely lost over time. Once cartilage is lost, it cannot be regenerated. Cartilage loss leads to pain / discomfort and decreased mobility. When dogs’ activity wanes, they may slowly cognitively decline, too.
Arthritis can start even in young dogs. Many dogs are genetically predisposed to cartilage loss, while other can have developmental orthopedic conditions. It is in these dogs that early intervention is most important.
Arthritis signs may begin subtly. First signs can include not jumping as frequently as in the past, decreased interest in play, reluctance to go on long walks, increased anxiety, shifting weight from leg to leg, and maybe struggling to get comfortable. Larger breed dogs are more prone to developing arthritis, but is can be seen in any size and breed of dog.
A goal of addressing arthritis is to try and slow the progression of the condition, along with providing discomfort relief. Anti-inflammatories are useful, but what if we could slow progression itself? Adequan Canine is a FDA-approved injectable disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug that inhibits cartilage loss in dogs’ joints and may help to restore joint lubrication, decrease inflammation, and provide building blocks of healthy cartilage.
The medication works by inhibiting the release of cartilage degenerative enzymes in the joint and enhancing helpful joint enzymes. It also helps restore the cartilage matrix and surrounding joint fluid. This leads to a better lubricated joint with less inflammation. And inflammation is what causes pain and discomfort. The exact mechanism of how Adequan works is unknown at this time.
Adequan can be started in a dog at any age. It does not have potential negative liver and kidney effects, such as may be found in some anti-inflammatories, and has a high safety range. It also should not cause any stomach upset. It is given via injection – we can readily show you how to do this. The biggest roadblock for use of Adequan is overcoming a client’s hesitancy to give their dog an injection. Many dogs tolerate injections very well—better than us!
Adequan is given twice per week for four weeks then once to twice a month thereafter. Every six months administration is repeated twice weekly for four weeks once again.
Many dogs will experience an improvement in walking and a decrease in overall pain within the first four weeks of administration. The goal is comfort and slowing of arthritis progression. Adequan can safely be used with oral supplements and anti-inflammatories, if needed. In many cases, Adequan decreases the need for the use of anti-inflammatories or other pain medications.
Dan Teich, DVM is Medical Director at District Veterinary Hospital Eastern Market.