Dog Arthritis Medication: Relieving Your Dog’s Joint Pain

dog arthritis medication

Dogs usually enjoy being active and are often on the move. Nonetheless, if your dog seems to struggle with getting up or has trouble going up stairs, there might be a problem. It’s possible your dog is dealing with joint pain, which is hindering their ability to move.

In most cases, canine Arthritis is the underlying cause of your dog’s condition. It’s a degenerative joint disease and can become fatal if ignored.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine shows that more than 50 percent of older dogs suffer from arthritis pain.

Arthritic dogs experience great discomfort, and it can be heartbreaking to watch your dog suffer. So, as pet owners, you may be wondering what’s the best pain management for dogs with Arthritis without significant side effects.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about treating Arthritis, relieving a dog’s arthritis pain, and improving your canine friend’s life.

FDA-Approved Dog Arthritis Medication

There are several human medicines for pain relief most veterinarians administer for dogs. Sadly, only nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Adequan and Galliprant, are approved for canine use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Regarding pain medication, Aspirin is the most used NSAID med. Aspirin for dogs helps relieve pain, and numerous products are available on the market. However, FDA does not approve the use of Aspirin for pain control.

Here are FDA-approved nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for canine arthritis pain:

  • etodolac (Etogesic)
  • meloxicam (Metacam)
  • deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • firocoxib (Previcox)
  • tepoxalin (Zubrin), and
  • carprofen (Novox, Rimadyl, and Vetprofen)

These pain medications are similar: the same side effects, benefits, and contraindications.

They offer adequate pain control by inhibiting the COX (cyclooxygenase) pathway, particularly COX-2. This form of enzyme cyclooxygenase is known to produce inflammatory prostaglandins associated with chronic pain. The other, COX-1, secrete prostaglandins which protect your dog’s stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract and aid normal kidney function.

While these COX-inhibiting NSAIDs are approved for controlling pain, there are some adverse reactions, such as kidney failure, liver failure, and gastrointestinal ulceration.

Notwithstanding, under veterinary supervision, NSAIDs effectively minimize dog pain, improve mobility and attenuate the progression of Arthritis in dogs. Most importantly, NSAIDs used not be used with other medications.

There are other pain medications perfect for treating pain in arthritic dogs, which include:

  • Galliprant
  • Adequan
  • Tramadol (not approved by FDA)
  • Corticosteroids (methylprednisolone and prednisone are not approved, but they are the most powerful anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Doxycycline (is a non-FDA-approved medication with anti-inflammatory properties to help slow the progression of Arthritis in dogs.
  • Gabapentin (is another pain relief medicine with anticonvulsant properties that works safely with NSAIDs)

Dog owners should avoid administering NSAIDs or other drugs without consulting their veterinary first.

Ways to Treat Arthritis in Dogs

Unlike other dog conditions, Arthritis has no magic bullet for treating this progressive disease. Instead, you can improve your dog’s quality of life by managing Arthritis. There’s no cure out there because of the disease’s complex nature.

Also, it’s best for dog owners to treat their pets with Arthritis using multiple modalities for better results.

Arthritis multimodal management involves the following:


Your veterinarian may suggest a new diet to ensure your dog’s body condition is optimal. This is an excellent way to give your pet the essential nutrients for a healthy weight and normal body condition.

Pain medication

Arthritis can be a painful experience for your dog. Therefore, administering pain relief medications like NSAIDs can help your dog live through this condition. Note older dogs may not be unable to use NSAIDs. So, it’s vital to consult your veterinarian before administering a drug.


Your pet may need help getting all the essential vitamins and minerals from diet. Here’s where nutritional supplements come in handy. There are several products on the market for the medical management of dog arthritis. Common nutraceuticals include polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. They promote better joint health by increasing joint fluid production and reducing inflammation.

Light exercise

If your dog suffers from Arthritis because of obesity, then regular exercise can help you lose weight. Several studies have shown that regular, everyday exercise helps prevent stiff joints, which is one of the underlying causes of decreased range. For obese dogs, weight loss is crucial to avoid putting too much strain on the joint.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies like acupuncture and physical therapy are part of the multi-modal approach to managing the chronic pain associated with Arthritis. Physical therapy is getting a lot of attention in the veterinary medicine world. It aids in weight loss and mobility for dogs dealing with Arthritis.

Related FAQs

What are some standard pain management options for dogs with chronic pain?

If your canine friend is dealing with chronic pain, opioid medications, acupuncture, laser therapy, NSAIDs, etc., are suitable options for relieving pain.

Can joint supplements be used in conjunction with pain medications for dogs?

Before using other drugs with pain medication, talking to a small animal veterinarian is best. However, joint supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine are safe to use alongside arthritis medications. These supplements are part of the treatment plan to foster cartilage repair and prevent joint damage.

How can I help my arthritic canine buddy deal with the associated pain?

Although there are tons of approaches, your first step is to consult a veterinarian doctor. Understanding the root cause of the pain is essential to creating the right treatment plan. Remember, hip dysplasia, bone cancer, IVDD, and many others might be responsible for the dog’s pain. Depending on diagnoses, your vet may recommend joint supplements to promote your dog’s cartilage health and physical therapies and diet change for weight loss.


Arthritis is a common condition and more prevalent in aging dogs. Walking becomes too painful for furry buddies, which explains why they recently started ignoring their names, food, or favorite toys.

Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, there are pain meds for canines to alleviate the pain. So, resist the urge to take out a painkiller from your home medicine cabinet. Talk to your veterinary doctor first to create a safer treatment regime for your family friend.

Using powerful meds like NSAID without your vet’s instruction can be counterproductive, leading to hind legs paralysis, diarrhea, upset stomach, kidney failure, or even death.

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