Many dogs end up suffering from arthritis at some point in their lives. It can become a crippling problem for your dog.
Apart from weight management and physical therapy, the standard treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications. While many dogs do well on these drugs, they can be damaging to the dog’s health. Further, sometimes the arthritis pain exceeds the ability of the medication to help.
Thank you, Dr. Keith, for sharing Cookie’s story.
My dog Cookie has been greeting clients and patients at the animal hospital for years.
She has been known to come into the exam rooms to say hello. Or she would wander around into the waiting room, just to keep tabs on the comings and goings of all of our visitors.
Cookie has become quite comfortable in this daily routine over the past 14 years. She has the staff wrapped around her little paw, with each and everyone jumping to her beck and call.
Cookie starts slowing down
Last year it became apparent that she was starting to slow down.
She was stiff upon rising and eventually started to limp off and on. When older dogs present with a gradual onset of lameness and pain, the most common cause is degenerative arthritis.
Normal wear and tear on the joints, sometimes aggravated by underlying orthopedic conditions or injuries, damage the cartilage. The joints become painful and stiff. Routinely, I start these patients on a supplement to support joint health, and then add an anti-inflammatory (NSAID) as needed, to decrease pain and swelling. Usually, the response is pretty dramatic and the dogs are doing much better in 48-72 hours after starting the medications.
Cookie doesn’t respond to treatment
When this is not the case, I recommend radiographs to make sure that our diagnosis is correct.
Of course, Cookie didn’t respond.
I added a prescription diet that is designed to decrease inflammation and started her on Adequan injections … still no improvement. Finally, I took radiographs, suspecting some sort of shoulder problem, based on the way she was walking. The bad news was, I had the wrong joint, her shoulders looked great.
The good news was that the diagnosis was correct. Cookie had arthritis in both of her elbows. And it was too severe to respond to the medication and supplements that she was on.
Now, that I had a diagnosis and was able to locate the problem to a specific anatomical location, there were some other treatment options available.
Alternative therapy options
I considered stem cell therapy which I have used on several patients with good results.
This was not suitable for Cookie, as she had recently had a splenectomy to treat a mass, and while it was benign, cancer is a contraindication for stem cell therapy and I preferred to be cautious.
Instead, I decided to use platelet therapy to treat her condition.
Cookie’s PRP treatment
I have started to use platelet injections (PRP) as an alternative to stem cell therapy in patients where stem cell therapy is not a viable option. The PRP has a high concentration of platelets, and platelet factors, that exert strong, local anti-inflammatory properties.
I drew a blood sample and using a filtration system designed by Pall Corporation, concentrated the platelets and the platelet factors. Then, under sedation, these are injected into the affected joints. There was enough product left to freeze for later treatments.
While Cookie’s joints were quite sore the next day or so (I’ve since added a local anesthetic to my joint injections to prevent this post-treatment tenderness), she gradually started to improve during the first week.
I stopped the NSAID as it wasn’t helping anyway and I was worried about potential side effects.
She continues to eat the joint diet and take the supplements. Although she isn’t crazy about it, we continued her Adequan injections every 3 weeks. She also gets regular therapy with a class 4 laser to decrease pain and inflammation.
We have seen great improvement.
This multimodal approach gives Cookie the best chance for long term successful management of her chronic degenerative joint disease.
We have seen minimal to no side effects with these treatments either alone or in combination and by tailoring our therapy to each individual situation, we are restoring function and improving the quality of life for our patients and their families.
Platelet Therapy for Dogs: Regenerative Veterinary Medicine
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment for Dogs