Dog arthritis is a debilitating disease that affects one out of five dogs. To treat the disease, NSAIDs are a very common medication prescribed by many veterinarians. NSAIDs stand for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications alleviate the pain and the inflammation caused by dog arthritis. They do this by inhibiting the pro-inflammatory enzyme prostaglandin. Unfortunately, when NSAIDs suppress the inflammatory properties of prostaglandin, they also suppress the enzyme’s other functions.
Prostaglandin is any enzyme important to many bodily processes. The enzyme is responsible for maintaining the blood circulation in the kidneys. They also help in the production of blood platelets. Thus, when NSAIDs are misused in dogs, it can result in adverse health side effects.
Ironically, when NSAIDs inhibit the effects of prostaglandins, it results in both therapeutic benefits and toxicity. NSAIDs toxicity can be dangerous, and if left unchecked, it can be fatal. Vets are obliged to inform their clients about NSAID toxicity but at the same time dog owners should learn more about the treatments being administered to their dog.
NSAIDs can cause ulcers because prostaglandins are an important component of the protective lining of the stomach and upper intestine. Signs that your dog might be suffering from ulcers caused by NSAIDs are vomiting, changes in appetite, and blood in the dog’s stool. When these symptoms are observed, your dog must immediately be rushed to an animal hospital so the right type and dosage of antacids and protectants can be given, as well as any supportive therapy like fluids.
As mentioned, the kidneys are dependent of prostaglandins – they ensure that enough blood reaches the kidneys. When there is too much NSAID in your dog’s system, this can potentially reduce the blood flow to the kidneys. Hence, the kidneys are unable to function. This is a very serious condition that requires hospitalization. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior or physical condition, it would be best to visit a vet so that a blood test can be performed to check for kidney damage.
NSAIDs can cause blood thinning and have also been observed to affect liver function. There are many recorded cases where NSAIDs have compromised liver function, especially in golden retrievers. However, more studies are needed to explain the mechanisms behind the side effect.
It has also been observed that NSAIDs prevent bone fractures from fusing, and may in general terms slow the healing of tissues down.
Should I Use NSAIDs?
I am not trying to discourage you from using the NSAIDs – they have saved many dogs from a very painful life with arthritis. However, they should be used with caution and not as a first line of treatment for ongoing arthritis management. For more information, look our for my e-book on this topic.
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