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Discussion Starter #1
This is coming from another thread but I didn't want to hijack it with my own questions.

Snowball is ~10 years old. He is, I think, in excellent health, most people we talk to are surprised when they hear his age. I'd never really noticed any stiffness before, other than several hours or so after he'd had significantly more exercise than normal. Recently, however, he has started to become wary of getting out of the back of my husband's hatchback and balks at going down stairs unless he thinks he's getting a walk or a car ride out of it. We thought it was a behavioral thing (e.g. negative feelings because he's slipped on the stairs when they were icy and he was very excited) but now I'm wondering if it has to do with him developing arthritis in his hips. :(

ANYWAY, my question is, to those of you who have older dogs, and especially dogs with diagnosed arthritis, at what point did you start actively treating it? And for those of you in cold climates, do the signs change with the weather/cold/rain? Off-leash he will still run around like a maniac; should I be limiting the intensity of his exertion?
 

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i'm a believer in prevention rather than treatment. by that i mean being proactive long before a problem has a chance to develop. Levi just turned 2 and is in perfect health with the exception of having a minor amount of crepitus in his rear paws that he doesn't even seem to notice. i started giving him glucosamine/chondroitin about about a month ago, and the clicking seems to have disappeared within the first week. i figure since you can't really OD on glucosamine, and it is winter and he's active, might as well start him on a low dosage early. he's about 13lbs or so and gets 150mg a day. as he gets older, i will likely increase that.
 

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What kind of glucosamine/Chondriton are you using? Can we just use the regular human-grade gel capsules?

Snowball was on glucosamine/dental chews (Kirkland brand from Costco) for almost a year and they definitely helped, but they changed the formula last spring and the new formula gives Snowball diarrhea, so we looked into other ways to supplement with glucosamine, such as duck feet but kind of fell off the wagon. Snowball also puts on weight really easily - when he's in the best shape he was eating ~250cals/day in food plus one chicken neck and getting 40 minutes of on-leash walks and 30-40 minutes of off-leash walks a day - so I really don't want to rely on treat-based supplements.
 

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Emmett is currently the only one of mine with arthritis, but he came to me already in significant arthritic pain. His elbows are basically bone on bone and he constantly stood with them cocked way out to the sides. We went through a myriad of trials to find the best combo for him.

Eventually we settled on Cosequin DS Plus MSM for a glucosamine/chondroiton supplement. If I remember correctly Cosequin was the only brand with any clinical trials demonstrating efficacy...or something to that effect. Otis has been on Cosequin DS since 7 months and Freya since 8 weeks, like Nicole I strongly believe in prevention. I went with the DS only for them and originally gave it to a Emmett as well. I definitely saw a difference with the DS only, but when I switched him to the DS Plus MSM formulation he had even better symptom control.

He also takes fish oil, great for his coat and supposedly a good anti inflammatory. Finally he takes tramadol daily and is on an every other day low dose of prednisone. We went with the pred and tramadol combo primarily because he had the best response to it. We tried Rimadyl, just tramadol, just supplements and a couple other options, but eventually decided that the pred dose was so low (2.5 mg every other day for a 60 lb dog) that the risks were well worth the symptom control.

With this regimen, he almost always maintains his elbows in their proper place and plays energetically with Freya. He still swings his legs out wide when he runs, there's still the occasional clicking noise and when palpated you can definitely feel how serious the disease process is at this point. He goes down stairs carefully and deliberately climbs into/onto things instead of jumping, but day to day he is not in anywhere near the pain he was in before.

As far as excercising, I definitely encourage Emmett to stay as fit as possible. Having strong surrounding structures to support ailing joints really does help with keeping the pain at bay. I make sure we are doing relatively "low impact" exercises, though. For instance, he loves the flirt pole, but I always keep the toy on the ground so no jumping or twisting and fling it at a nice steady speed instead of jarring turns and such. We play tug, but I encourage him to do so on a flat soft surface so that the joints remain at a more natural angle. Of course, brisk walks on softer ground are always loved. With this level of exercise I really don't see any after exercise stiffness or exacerbation in symptoms. So he's staying fit, but I don't think we're accelerating the decline.

Emmett most definitely has more trouble on cold/rainy days. Particularly in the morning it takes him significantly longer to loosen up and "work it out". I toyed with giving him more meds on those days, but didn't really see much difference so scraped that idea. Right now I just let him take it easier and don't encourage him to "get up and go" quite as quickly on those days. Plus, he has a fleece blanket that he snuggles under on cold nights and I really think that does make a difference in his morning stiffness.
 

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My 10 year old very active australian shepherd has arthritis so I started him on a supplement several years ago when he first started getting a little stiff after agility or other activity. I tried Cosequin DS plus MSM for about a year and then I tried Actistatin after getting it on sale at a horse show. I've noticed a bigger improvement with the Actistatin vs Cosequin and I think it's slightly cheaper. He also doesn't seem to have gotten any worse than when it first started.
 

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@Emmett - My shoulder clicks. It's not arthritis in my case, it's a rotator cuff issue that exercise helps. My point is not correction, but to provide hope (?). I don't think that you can cure arthritis, only relieve it. But, there may be exercises to 'cure' the clicking?

Shep is 13 yo, and he didn't start having significant problems until he turned 12. But at 9 or 10, he was starting to be a bit more careful, like Snowball.

I like Cosequin DS plus MSM... make sure to do the loading dose. I'm also using Myristin (EHP), that I heard of from the Forum and from some Agility folks .... However, it might just be the additional amount of Glucosamine ? And, I recently started giving him a teaspoon of LubriSyn Hyaluronic Acid.... They all seem to help, each one is supposed to work on a slightly different issue, and Shep gets stiffer when we run out... Note that there are no proven studies about Glucosamine effectiveness, however, some orthopedists will recommend it, b/c it doesn't seem to do any harm, and some folks respond well to it [It doesn't help me at all, but does seem to help Shep.]

I looked at Actistatin online, and it looks interesting - resveratrol has no proven value yet, but the other ingredients look promising.

The Vet did a pull test on Shep to diagnose arthritis. She very gently pulled on each of his legs, moving each through its range of motion, while pulling and feeling for resistance. It seems that most dogs don't care if you pull their legs... gently... But, if you find a spot that hurts, indicated by the dog pulling back, then that may be a symptom of beginning arthritis.... Disclaimer - I am not a Vet, and am VERY inexperienced with arthritis. But, your Vet might try the same protocol on Snowball....
 

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What kind of glucosamine/Chondriton are you using? Can we just use the regular human-grade gel capsules?

Snowball was on glucosamine/dental chews (Kirkland brand from Costco) for almost a year and they definitely helped, but they changed the formula last spring and the new formula gives Snowball diarrhea, so we looked into other ways to supplement with glucosamine, such as duck feet but kind of fell off the wagon. Snowball also puts on weight really easily - when he's in the best shape he was eating ~250cals/day in food plus one chicken neck and getting 40 minutes of on-leash walks and 30-40 minutes of off-leash walks a day - so I really don't want to rely on treat-based supplements.
You can def use human capsules as long as there's nothing else added and the dosage is right. That's what I did with my last dog Joey. But for the little guy I have now I use Zukes hip action treats. Each treat has 300mg of glucosamine so I only give 1/2 of a teats each day making the calories a non issue really. Even if you have a whole treat they are just little 1" squares. In fact, there's probably less calories in one treat than when I use to hide the human pills in a big blob of peanut butter.
I use dried duck feet as treats too occasionally but I don't know if there's actually enough glucosamine to make an impact.
 

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Glucosamine loading dosage for 80lbs is about 1500 - 2000 mg for 1 - 2 months, then 1000 - 1500mg for maintenance from then.
1. Glucosamine is fairly nontoxic, so overdosing at this level is not a problem. If Bear eats an entire bottle, then it may be an issue. :)
2. Glucosamine is expensive, so there's no reason to overdose.
3. Pay close attention to current walking and write down any little improvements every week. When the improvements aren't getting better, then continue the loading does for about two more weeks... Then, go to maintenance levels.... Go back to loading dose, if things get worse.

If Bear is overweight, then losing even 5 lbs will make a BIG difference. If he's otherwise healthy, then getting him lean helps a lot.
 

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I think x-rays would be the best to determine what you are dealing with. I say that because I have seen 2 year old dogs walking, jumping, running and seem to have not a problem. X-rays show that this 85 pound GSD had a really bad left hip. His owners now knew what the dog was facing. You would never tell by looking at him. I recently took x-rays of my 17 year old JRT. It did show some spondylosis of her spine but not bad.

Treatment depends on the dog. Glucosamine to help in the early stages, then from there it depends on the severity and symptoms the dog is showing. You can use the human grade but you must remember that you can over do it with glucosamine http://www.vetinfo.com/symptoms-of-glucosamine-overdose-in-dogs.html I always state to start at a safe loading dose and then back off to a dose that helps the animal but is not considered too high.

Next steps; NSAIDs, Tramadol, Gaba pentin, stem cell therapy, cold laser therapy, magnetic therapy, warm water therapy, acupuncture, PRP, and many more. All of these have had great success alone or grouped together.

I have seen a Newfie who did different therapies. The dog was unable to walk very far without crying in pain. The owner brought the dog to the clinic on a stretcher. the dog did leave on a stretcher but the next infusion the dog was walking and the owner reported the dog was actually starting to play with her toys again. This was something the dog had not done in a couple of years.

I think for me I have seen the low dose steroid, PRP and actually injecting the joints with a steroid have had the best results for dogs I have seen that is crippled by the disease.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Luv Mi Pets. Its good to know that there are so many therapy options other than just pharmaceutical pain management.

Based on his symptoms, Snowball is still in the early stages. My plan is to supplement with gluccosamine, and as long as he's not getting worse, I'll discuss x-rays and other diagnostics with the vet at his annual wellness visit in a few months. (If he starts getting worse obviously we'll go in sooner.)
 

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We recently started giving our Boxer a Natural Joint Supplement to prevent these exact symptoms that your dog is starting to show. He is 6 years old and a very active dog by the way. We did consult with our Vet before, and she recommended we do so. So I think at 10 years old, you should definitely be giving your dog something to prevent these things from happening. We give our dog Super Healthy Joints, and we are happy with the results (he thinks they are treats)... It contains Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Vitamin C. So it's a lot better than glucosamine alone.

Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Glucosamine-Dogs-Supplements-Chondroitin-Arthritis/dp/B00IT8E6T6
 

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When you have the time advantage, I agree with that philosophy, to start prevention when the dog is at roughly 50% of his expected life.
 

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My dog is about six, and he was on a joint health supplement made by Springtime. He was maybe only 2 when I started him on them, but it completely relieved any "clicking" of the joints for the longest time, while he was on them.

I'm also like a few others here, if you start preventative maintenance now, it could make treatment easier later on.

Donatello has been off the joint health supplements for the longest time, and the last 6mons he's taken to favoring an ankle at night by licking it before bed... Some would say it's a behavioral mod, but I have feeling it's the start of arthritis; So I've started giving him half a pill of Glucosamine & Chondroitin every other day. It's been helping a lot, he doesn't lick his ankle as much and it's only been a few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just a brief update: we've started supplementing with some hip & joint treats (Dynamo Dogs by CloudStar), he is getting ~100mg of glucosamine/day. I suspect his reduced exercise over the winter contributed just by reducing his conditioning too, which has been restored over the past month. Between the treats and regular exercise, it has made a noticeable difference.
 
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