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Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is a condition in which cartilage within the joints wears away, causing joint pain and inflammation. Cartilage is intended to act as a cushion between the bones, so when bones become less protected by cartilage, patients experience pain when walking or standing. This decreased movement can then cause muscles to weaken and ligaments to become more lax.

Treating canine osteoarthritis is a multi-modal approach. Depending on the severity and progression of the condition, we commonly reach for nutraceuticals, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and intra-articular injections. We recommend developing a personalized rehabilitation plan for muscle strength and conditioning, and for exercise and weight management purposes. In some cases, acupuncture or chiropracticmay be helpful.

If necessary, surgical options for osteoarthritis may include arthroscopy of the joint.

Stages of Therapy for Osteoarthritis Patients

1) Prevention
This is especially important for working and performance dogs, of which we treat thousands at VOSM. Prevention often includes an integrative rehabilitation therapy plan at the onset of training to minimize the risk of possible repetitive strain or overuse injuries.

Nutraceuticals, such as glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate, may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation, prevent additional inflammation, and minimize cartilage breakdown.

Products: Cosequin, Dasuquin, Welactin, Hill's j/d Diet, MSM

2) Early Intervention
Dogs who present with juvenile orthopedic conditions may need more extensive treatment plans to prevent osteoarthritis from further developing. This includes arthroscopy, an intra-articular surgical procedure that can be used both to assess tissue damage and repair joint structures, as well as a multi-modal approach post-operatively.

After surgery, rehabilitation therapy is recommended. This may include continual joint mobilizations and passive range of motion exercises, as well as laser therapy or TENS. We also recommend at-home cyrotherapy or cold compression (GameReady®) and medical management.

Medical Management of Osteoarthritis
Oral NSAIDs for 14 days
Tramadol for 7 days
Adequan twice a week for 4 weeks
Dasuquin for life

3) End-Stage Osteoarthritis
For dogs with chronic osteoarthritis (effusion, lameness, discomfort), intra-articular injections often decrease joint pain and inflammation.

We recommend reaching for these injections during episodes of acute joint exacerbation or for dogs intolerant of or non-responsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).

These may be used in conjunction with rehabilitation therapy and nutraceuticals for a multi-modal approach to osteoarthritis treatment.

Contact Us

Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group


10975 Guilford Rd, Ste B Annapolis Junction, MD 20701


Mon-Fri: 8 AM to 6 PM
Sat: 8:30 AM to 4 PM