Pets in pain deserve the best care

While there are lifestyle changes that can help alleviate arthritic pain in pets, such as soft beds, glucosamine supplements, proper exercise and weight management, veterinarian Marty Becker suggests owners get educated about the medications available to help treat chronic pain in pets. Veterinarians can provide medications that are safe and effective and tailored for each pet’s needs. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (free registration)

There are things you can do to treat your dog’s arthritis without using a prescription pain medication from your veterinarian, such as providing soft beds (warmed in the winter), glucosamine supplements and regular moderate exercise, and getting your pet down to a proper weight. But if these measures are not enough, you need to discuss effective prescription pain control with your veterinarian.

I know a little something about chronic pain, thanks to a chronic neurological condition, and I can tell you it’s a miserable way to spend a life. And yet so many pets are in such misery because their owners have “heard” that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are deadly.

While no medication, however helpful, is without the potential for side effects (including very serious ones), the NSAIDs available from your veterinarian have high marks for safety as long as precautionary protocols are followed, including diagnostic tests to spot possible problems with internal organs.

Discuss all your options and all the precautions, and work with your veterinarian to ease your pet’s suffering while minimizing the potential for side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has an excellent free publication on NSAIDs (, and I encourage you to download it.

– Dr. Marty Becker

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