I am always amazed at how well dogs “tolerate” pain. I’ve seen dogs run into the clinic on a broken leg or eat well despite terribly infected teeth. They are truly remarkable. Yet, if we look close enough we can see that they are suffering from the pain, they’re just able to function with it. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of dogs suffer from the pain of arthritis. While we can fix some causes of pain we can’t cure arthritis; our goal is to control pain and improve quality of life.
If you’ve ever had a dog diagnosed with arthritis you’ve heard us talk about a multimodal approach: joint supplements, healthy weight and nutrition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, acupuncture, laser therapy. We have so much to offer, but some dogs have unwanted side effects from medications or underlying liver or kidney disease that prevents the use of medications. Other’s reach a point where the pain is no longer controlled. This is the reason we are so excited to share a newer therapy called Librela.
Librela is a once monthly injection. It is a monoclonal antibody that stops the stimulus for arthritis pain. Librela is a great option for dogs that have liver or kidney disease because it is a protein and not a “drug”. Most owners report significant improvement in mobility and quality of life within days, though some patients need two injections to see the most improvement.
What can you do?
Physical examination and imaging (ie radiographs) are pivotal to diagnosing arthritis but the history you share with us is just as important. You know your pet best and can observe the small changes in activity and behavior at home. Many people imagine that a painful dog will vocalize or stop eating. It’s simply not the case. Any limping, or shifting of weight off one leg means there is pain. Other subtle signs of pain include:
- Difficulty jumping into the car or on the furniture
- Difficulty climbing steps or lagging behind on walks
- Stiffness when standing or struggling to get up
- Inability to get into their normal position to urinate or defecate (ie used to lift the leg or don’t squat as low as they used to)
I can’t tell you the number of times someone comes into the clinic for limping but then the dog doesn’t do it at the clinic. It’s not exactly like the car at the mechanic but it certainly feels like it. Dogs are pack animals and not about to show vulnerability around a stranger if at all possible. One or two videos that you take at home or on walks can help us determine which joint(s) are affected. Also, don’t forget to bring a list of all the medications and supplements your dog is on.
Whether you are just considering that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, or they’ve been in our care for years, please don’t hesitate to ask us about Librela. We are excited to talk about Librela, and all the pain control modalities we offer to increases quality of life for a disease that affects so many.