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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