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My retired FT dog has bad elbows and we have been addressing this for the past few years and we have her on Glucosamine Condroitin (GC) pills and she is able to move about mostly without any major discomfort. We are keeping her weight down and her exercise is several times a day but for short periods. However with this heat wave we all are suffering under ( Syracuse hit 101) she was affected to the point she would / could not come out of her kennel. I preface this that her and the other dogs have been kept indoors in a basement type space and the average temp in our lower level was around 70 degrees. My situation is the dog is only 9 years young and still has real desire. I want her quality of life to be best it can be. My Vet who is a general practitioner and a Cornell grad does not think surgery will aleviate her situation. My main question is what additional meds might work we tried several (GC) before we found the sulfate based ones that seem to work. Is there any therapy or treatment that have been successful in treating dogs that have joint dysplacia.
Glynn
 

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Metacam works wonders. There are also other NSAIDS you can try as some work better than others. Run a chem panel on her before giving them. On very bad days Tramadol has worked as they can be given together. An orthopedic bed can help. I can honestly say several of my dogs have gone to 14+ years with a good quality of life which they wouldn't have had without Metacam. Some people use the generic Meloxicam but with the liquid you can adjust the dose better and only give them the dose necessary to help them.
 

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There will be many schools of thorugh on whether surgery is needed to address the elbow incongruity, especially if there are any fragments within the joint, from an FCP, etc. It is not to say that your veterinarian is not correct, but I would definitely consult with an orthopedic specialist before you definitively decide whether surgery will be helpful or not. I have had arthroscopic surgery done on several older dyspastic dogs that helped them tremendously. These were cases where other GP and even surgeons said surgery would not be a benefit (just to show there are differing opinions out there :)). Obviously I am in the camp that says surgery should be considered - but I have not seen the radiographs.

Even without surgery you have several options for pain management:

- NSAIDS (Metacam, Rimadyl, Previcox, Deramax): These can work very well, but are not benign. They can be very hard on the kidneys, GI tract, and liver. As Erin mentioned if youare planning on using them on a regular basis get a CBC and chemistry done first and be sure to also have a NSAID profile (another specific blood chemistry) done at least every 6 months if you are using an NSAID consistently.

-tramadol: This is an opioid drug. I have found mixed success with using it on cases of significant arthritis pain for total relief. Have found that it takes the edge of some when used alone, but have not been overwhelmingly impressed. Does seem to work better when using an NSAID in conjunction.

-Intra-articular injection of the joints with steroids (+/- hyaluronic acid): This is probably my favorite treatment of arthritic joints. This is a common procedure done to maintain both human and equine athletes. I use it often in my canine patients as well in all kinds of arthritic joints. The advantage is that it is direct treatment, so you don't have the systemic side effects of NSAIDS. It is also specific so you are treating the problem area directly. I have also observed that it can provide some pretty profound pain relief over what NSAIDS can do, for several months!

-Adequan injections: This is a medication that is the same concept as glucosamine/chondroitin, but slightly different. It is a given as an injection and you can learn to give the injections at home as there are several in the initial series. It is also a bit more direct as you are giving an injection and not worrying about GI absorption, etc. I have had good success in using this in moderately affected dogs or using as a maintenance treatment for athletes in hard competition. May not cure or stop arthritis, but can help maintain damaged joints or preserve the normal ones. There is some good information on the web regarding Adequan.

This rounds out the medication options. Another thing you may really want to consider, and could be of tremendous benefit is to see a rehabilitation therapist as well. They can work with your dog and prescribe some specific exercises that will help range of motion and muscle strength to support her joints in light of the dysplasia issue. They will also have modalities such as therapeutic laser that can also be very helpful in pain management of these cases.
 

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I have a boy with a grade 2 and a grade 3 elbow. He is 9 years old and a phenomenal worker. He is on Adequan injections once a month and Dasuquin MSM pills once a day. We also do acupuncture and chiropractic monthly. It has worked wonders.

The general problem with dysplasia is people wait too late to start treatment with the preventative stuff. The glucosamine injections and pills work best when there is still some cartilage there to regenerate. Not saying that Adequan and Dasuquin won't work on your dog, I would try both if I were you, buy they are less effective the less joint material that is there.

If it were my dog, I'd start Adequan, Dasuquin MSM. If you can get someone to do acupuncture and chiropractic, it's a bonus. I always have Rimadyl on hand in case he has a sore day, but luckily, I think due to my preventative maintenance, those days are few. I do have comfortable dog beds too. Coal is still running, though not as many marks/blinds as he used to. He is enjoying life.

When he was first diagnosed at 2, I thought it was a death sentence. With preventative therapy, they can live long comfortable lives!

He is the dog in my Avatar. Notice how nice and stretched out he is on a jump!

Sue Puff
 

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In my opinion, most if not all owners who opt for surgery are disappointed no matter who does the surgery, what surgery is performed or where it is done. Obviously, it depends on the problem; however that has been my experience in practice. I think all the other options mentioned are worthwhile. Weight control and exercise are vitally important. Zeel is a good medicine. Cheap and a great adjunct to other therapies. Keep them swimming too! Swimming builds muscle mass! The ultimate goal is to freeze elbow. When frozen or fused, pain goes away. I agree with the above about Tramadol. It is not very good medicine yet a lot of vets use it.
 

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I would make sure she does not have LYME or other tick disease.. Just had a dog of mine not able to walk overnite and started him on Doxy , 4 am that morning he jumped on the bed...bad year for Tick disease in my neighborhood...EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NOT PICKED ANY TICKS OFF....
 
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