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Arthritis in elbow.

Species: Dog
Breed: German Shepherd mix
Age: 8-11 years
My 10 year old German Shepherd mix has been limping on her front leg. It has progressively been getting worse, was just after high activity and in the mornings. However, now it is all the time. We had X-rays done of all of her joints and they showed arthritis in the hip (only 1 because she had an FHO when she was 6 months, she was hit by a car. since the surgery she has never had a problem with that hip). However, the X-rays showed only a small amount of arthritis in her elbows of the front legs, but nothing to explain the severe pain in her elbow when manipulating it or not enough to explain the limping. The Vet started her on Metacam but she is not able to tolerate it. She only had one dose that she was able to keep down, 2nd and 3rd doses she threw up and then continued to vomit. I gave her a pepcid AC, per the Vet's advice and she seems to be ok, however her leg is no better, maybe even worse. The Vet now wants to wait and see if she has any improvement on her own. I do not want to wait, I waited for 3 weeks before I brought her in to see if her limp got better...hoping it was a strain or sprain, but it only got worse. I want to do something to help her but I don't know what to do. Should I bring her Xrays to a different Vet?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine Cartamil, but I will give you some of my thoughts.

Sometimes arthritis in the elbows can be very difficult to grade by looking at xrays. Sometimes dogs can have extreme pain with only minor changes on xray. (I have seen the opposite where dogs have horrible looking elbows on their xray but are not terribly painful.)

So, this definitely could be all due to arthritis.

If she's still limping then I don't like the idea of waiting.

Here are a few options. You could ask your vet for a different type of NSAID. Metacam is an excellent arthritis drug but some dogs do get stomach upset when they are on it. I have found that some dogs do better on a drug called Previcox. Another alternative is to use a drug that is called Tramadol. It works in a different way but can be quite effective.

I have also had good success with treating arthritis with Cartrophen (also called Adequan) injections. I'll often do this along with the other medications mentioned above.

If you have the budget for it, it would be great to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary orthopedic surgeon. A surgeon can give you their opinion on the xrays. Often they will see things that a regular vet can't see.

My orthopedic surgeon does a surgical procedure called a SHO (sliding humeral osteotomy) for dogs with elbow problems. It has quite a good success rate at relieving pain, but it can be expensive.

I really hope she is feeling better soon!

Dr. Marie.
Related: Can you give a dog Advil?



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.