Are there good alternatives to NSAIDs for pain management? The Grey Muzzle Organization’s site has a good article covering alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture and acupressure, energy healing, cold laser therapy, and hydrotherapy. Review the article and do an internet search to find out more about each of these alternatives, and check with your veterinarian for referrals.
Glucosamine alone and glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in combination are widely recognized among “nutraceuticals” as those that have the most consistently-demonstrated beneficial effects in the symptomatic relief of arthritis — in both humans and dogs. This class of substance, known as “glycosaminoglycans” or “GAGs,” appears to enable the body to repair damaged cartilage, which, in turn, decreases the pain of osteoarthritis.
According to sources such as Jane Brody, the health columnist for the New York Times, supplements alone are not the total answer; ” . . . exercises that foster aerobic conditioning, muscular strength and flexibility and a diet that counters overweight . . .” must be part of the equation.
You will encounter many brand names for nutritional supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin; the important thing to know is how many milligrams of these substances are included. Many products are advertised as being more effective because they contain additional ingredients such as Vitamin C or garlic or yucca; however, the only substances that have demonstrated effectiveness are glucosamine and chondroitin, so that is what you should look for.
N.B.: People and animals with diabetes should NOT take glucosamine.
The 2015 AAHA report offers the following information on alternatives to NSAIDs for pain management:
Weight Management — The report points out that fatty tissue secretes a mixture of cytokines that circulate throughout the body, contributing to the pathology of many diseases, including arthritis. The suggestion is to help your dog to regain or maintain a lean body. The report states: “Weight control diets fortified with omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be effective at reducing signs associated with both canine and feline degenerative joint disease (i.e., arthritis).”
Acupuncture — According to the report, “There is a solid and still-growing body of evidence for the use of acupuncture for the treatment of pain in veterinary medicine to the extent that it is now an accepted treatment modality for painful animals.”
Adequan, generically known as a polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAG), and which is administered by injection, has been shown to be effective and has minimal side effects.
Cannabinoids and/or their commercial drug derivatives — including such products as CBD oil; the jury is still out on these products
Pain Relievers to Avoid!!
Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) can cause serious problems in dogs; there is no safe dosage. Acaetaminophen (Tylenol) is not an anti-inflammatory, and can also have toxic effects on the liver. Dogs are more sensitive than humans to drugs that are toxic to the liver, and Tylenol is known to have toxic effects in humans. Don’t use Tylenol for relief of arthritis pain in dogs.