Osteoarthritis Pain Management for Our Senior Pets

Just like with people, it is not unusual for our senior dogs (and cats!) to start getting aches and pains as they age.  Owners often note a “slowing down”, which they may perceive and accept as part of the normal aging process.  This thought process may lead owners to be resistant to starting a chronic medication for treatment.  Osteoarthritis can be a common culprit for “slowing down”,  but what owners may not realize is that arthritis can cause significant pain for our pets and limit their quality of life.  Sometimes after starting a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, the improvement to a pet’s quality of life can be dramatic.

One of my client’s dogs, Nala, did have such a drastic improvement after starting medication.  After the owner excitedly texted to me her third round of pictures showing Nala’s improvement, I asked her to contribute to our clinic blog.  My goal is to help other pet owners realize that the judicious use of pain medication tailored to their senior pet’s specific needs can result in improvement in their enjoyment of life and their relationship with the family.  

nala 1

Below is Nala’s story:

Nala is our nearly 11-year-old lab/shepherd mix. We adopted her at 12 weeks old from the SPCA and she has been a ball-loving, chase-loving, active girl her entire life. In the last couple of years, she has certainly slowed. She used to love (and I mean, LOVE) jumping up on her daddy to stretch and hug, but this has completely stopped in the last couple of years. She wants to play catch with the tennis ball for “forever” – but lately after 10 or 15 minutes, she’s exhausted… and later needs help to get up the stairs.

This summer, we noticed further changes. Not only did she not want to play, she would hide in our bedroom upstairs and seemed more distant than usual. It was a significant behavior change for our typically clingy dog who stays in our shadows. We’d been using Cosequin  to help with arthritis and it seemed to help for a little while, but wasn’t enough.

We are so grateful that we spoke with Dr. Blackwood. After voicing our concerns, she suggested we try an NSAID Nala could take twice a day. After a couple of weeks, we have a brand new dog. She is back to her super personable, playful, active self. She can play ball for longer periods of time, she is SO happy to jump up on her daddy again, and she is back to hovering in our shadow! We are getting her bloodwork followed regularly to monitor for side effects and are beyond thrilled with the results. As seen in the pictures, she is acting like a puppy again. Our senior dog is beyond happy, which makes us beyond happy as well.



nala 2

Janette Blackwood, DVM


  1. mark says

    what was the NSAID? ^
    you said in your blog that she started her on an NSAID 2x a day. what was the name of it?


    • admin says

      Hello! Thank you, for the question. We have Nala currently on carprofen, which comes in both a name-brand (Rimadyl) and generic forms. We have a variety of different supplements and medications from which to choose, and we make our choices based on the specific issues the client is noticing, how the pet looks on physical examination, and the results of recent blood work. Please, contact us should you have any further questions. Janette Blackwood, DVM

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