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New injection for arthritic dogs: could it help?

Tony Buckwell on a new treatment for the condition

old black labrador

Black Labrador

Q:  I have heard that there is a new injection for arthritic dogs available. Is this very different from other treatments and how effective is it?

A: Arthritis is a condition that leads to pain and progressive degeneration of the joints. It affects many aspects of a dog’s outlook, causing limited mobility, painful joints and a poor quality of life. (Read how to help a dog with arthritis.)

Signs can often be subtle. Dogs with arthritis don’t necessarily cry out with pain, so it is important to look out for signs such as limping, slowing down on walks, being slow to rise and having difficulty jumping. (Read how to know when it’s time to retire your dog.)

While arthritis is often associated with older, overweight and larger breeds, it can affect dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds. Many cases go undiagnosed because slowing down is seen as a natural symptom of getting old and many dogs suffer in silence. (Read our list of the best beds for gundogs.)

We generally recommend a combination of treatments for arthritis to include weight reduction, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as non-steroidals (NSAIDs), special diets (often high in omega-3 fatty acids), joint supplements, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

injection for arthritic dogs

Image courtesy of Zoetis.

The new injection for arthritic dogs

Dogs shouldn’t have to suffer the pain of arthritis and there is a new product available called Librela, which is given as a monthly injection.

The active substance in Librela is bedinvetmab, a monoclonal antibody (a type of protein) designed to recognise and attach to a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF). Once attached, it prevents NGF from attaching to its receptors (targets) on nerve cells and interrupts the transmission of pain signals. Simply put — by blocking these receptors, it blocks the pain.

This new product can be given on its own or in combination with other treatments and is giving very encouraging results.

In a three-month trial, followed by six months of continuation therapy, monthly injections of Librela led to a reduction in osteoarthritis pain, when compared with dogs given a placebo.

According to the company that manufactures the product, the pain reduction was maintained throughout the six-month continuation study, demonstrating sustained efficacy for at least nine months.