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                 A major objective of dog arthritis treatment is to control the inflammation of the joints. One method of achieving this is using steroid (cortisone) anti-inflammatory injections. For this treatment, a steroid preparation of cortisone in long acting ‘depo’ form is used, which is administered directly into the joint (intra-articular injection).

Although the treatment is commonly used for humans suffering from osteoarthritis, steroid intra-articular injections are rarely used on dogs. Nonetheless, the treatment is highly effective in treating ‘acute on chronic’ dog arthritis patients.

What is Acute on Chronic Arthritis?

Dogs suffering from chronic, ongoing arthritis can have a sudden worsening of the arthritis. This is called acute on chronic arthritis and the classic sign is joint swelling. With joint swelling abnormal amounts of fluid build up in the injured joint. The elbows are most susceptible but it can happen to any joint. So long as the joint is not infected a steroid intra-articular injection can be given to settle the acute on chronic dog arthritis.

When Should I use Cortisone Injections?

As mentioned, steroid intra-articular injections are rarely used on dogs and should never be considered as the first treatment. The following are forms of dog arthritis treatment should be tried first:

  • Adequan. The medication is water-based and is administered by injection. The drug repairs and protects the cartilage within joints. It was first used for injection in the joints but seems to work just as well by injecting it under the skin.
  • Joint supplements. The best supplement on the market is Dasuquin. Omega-3 containing supplements are also advisable. These supplements protect the joints of the cartilage from wear and tear and help settle inflammation.
  • Pain killers and Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. These lessen the inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy, weight management, and exercise.

If the above treatments have been tried and your dog is still sore, a cortisone injection into the joint may help a LOT.

Why Doesn’t My Vet Suggest Cortisone Joint Injections

Cortisone injections are more invasive than other dog arthritis treatments and are usually needed in older dogs. These old dogs require general anesthetic and are at a higher risk of anesthetic problems and joint infection. You sometimes need to tell your vet that you would consider cortisone injections as a treatment for your dog’s arthritis.

How Long Do Cortisone Injections Last?

The effects of the steroid injection, depending on the steroid preparation, can last for two months or longer. Human literature recommends no more than 2-3 injections per year.

Steroid injections are a viable form of treatment when your dog is suffering from advanced dog arthritis and the other option is euthanasia. You can read more about advanced arthritis options and the many ways you can control dog arthritis on my blog.

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Comments (6)

  1. Posted by: Maria July 12, 2012, 7:14 PM

    about how much does a shot cost….

    Reply
    1. Posted by: christopher July 13, 2012, 9:40 PM

      Maria, the shot itself is about $80 at my practice, but to this you need to add an anethetic and half a day in hospital (another $250).

      Reply
  2. Posted by: Joan November 30, 2011, 11:21 PM

    I got a PRP injection into the hips and elbows of my 11 old collie in an effort to relieve her arthtitis pain. The improvement was striking and within 2 days of the injection, but after a month the effect started to wane and by 2 months she was essentially back to where she had started.

    Reply
    1. Posted by: christopher December 5, 2011, 4:59 AM

      Yes Joan that can happen. 2-3 a year are considered safe but the problem is they require a full anesthetic. This becomes impractical for many owners.

      Reply
  3. Posted by: Jana Rade October 26, 2010, 1:56 AM

    I am very leery of cortisone, particularly any long lasting. I can appreciate that it does relieve pain quickly. If I had to put my dog through anesthesia, I’d definitely go rather with stem cell therapy.

    Reply
    1. Posted by: dogarthritis101 November 11, 2010, 8:25 AM

      and they do need anesthesia for cortisone injections. do you know dogs who have had experience with stem cell therapy? I would be interested to hear some stories.

      Reply

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