Summaries of some new research on CAM arthritis treatments, via SkeptVet:
I’ve written extensively about alternative arthritis therapies, largely because that is one of the most common conditions for which complementary and alternative treatments are used. While a few are promising (such as fish oils), there is little good evidence to support most such practices. A detailed and very useful new review of alternative therapies for arthritis in humans has just been released. And while extrapolation from humans to pets has dangers and has to be viewed with some skepticism, this at least gives us some guidance as to whether such therapies have proven their value for people, a question for which the evidence is usually much greater in quantity and quality than we often get for veterinary uses.
In super-brief: still no evidence for glucosamine/chondroitin in either humans or animals (though you’ll still get told by many you’re the Worst Dog Owner EVER if you don’t spend! spend! spend! on it anyway). Still some evidence for possible benefit in fish oil. And SAMe may improve functional mobility.
My best strategy for Gilly, at this stage (eleven & a half year old lifelong athlete), seems to still be: keep him trim, keep him strong and well-muscled, decrease his high-impact running and diving and general crack-headedness about sticks and instead increase long, mellow walks and never-more-than-trot bike rides.
I also give him salmon oil in his food several times a week (because he likes it, it seems to be good for his coat, and it may or may not help in other ways), I make sure he gets a wide variety of delicious, balanced, and healthy foods and treats and all the other things that keep him happy, well-socialized, low-stress and well-rested.
When he inevitably topples in a rumpus or slips (something he used to have rubber-bones to deal with or prevent, but which now is more frequent as well as painful and consequential), I don’t make a big deal of it but rein him in and try to be mindful of minimizing the hazards of falls on ice or uneven ground. His joints just aren’t as flexible as they used to be, and sometimes – often, actually – he forgets that, so I try to remember for him.
Mostly, I have to remember that he’s mortal. And yes, I hate that. But my job is to protect and maintain his quality of life as best as I can, not to project magical thinking onto him – at the expense of more useful approaches – simply to make myself feel better.