Wellness

FDA Approves Injection To Treat Arthritis In Dogs

Older pit bull standing in front of family and home

Pain relief is on the horizon with a new arthritis injection for dogs.

Pain in dogs with arthritis is a big worry for pet owners because it can affect their quality of life. But there’s some good news! A new drug called Librela has recently been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what Librela is, how it works, and what it could mean for our furry friends. Let’s take a closer look at how this new treatment might help dogs feel better when they’re in pain.

Osteoarthritis Explained

Osteoarthritis in dogs is a common joint condition where the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility in affected joints. As a veterinarian, I typically see osteoarthritis in older dogs. However, arthritis can also occur due to joint injury, genetic factors, or other underlying conditions.

It usually affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, elbows, and spine. While osteoarthritis is not curable, it can be managed with various treatment options to help improve the dog’s quality of life and relieve discomfort.


What Is Librela?

In simple terms, Librela is a medication designed to help control pain in dogs with arthritis. Administered by subcutaneous injection once a month, Librela is a monoclonal antibody designed to specifically target and block a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF).

By blocking NGF (a key factor in osteoarthritis pain), this new medication helps reduce pain and improve mobility. Dog owners can consider using Librela for chronic joint pain instead of daily oral anti-inflammatories that can cause GI upset. 

Common Symptoms Of Arthritis Pain:

Lethargy

Slow to get up

Struggling on walks

Limping after exercise 

Reluctance to be touched 

Potty accidents 

Difficulty jumping

Reluctant to take stairs 

Unexpected aggression

What Are The Benefits Of Librela?

Developed in the European Union, Librela offers several potential benefits for dogs suffering from arthritis. One of the biggest advantages is long-lasting pain relief. Unlike some medications that need to be given daily, Librela is injected just once a month. This can make managing your dog’s pain much easier and more convenient.

With less pain, your dog might also experience increased mobility and feel more energetic. This could lead them to be more active and playful again, returning to the things they enjoy. Librela may allow your veterinarian to reduce or even eliminate the need for other pain medications your dog might be taking. This can help minimize any potential side effects from those medications. 

In my experience, after being on Librela for 4 weeks, many of my patients no longer need other pain medication. Owners report that their dogs are more comfortable, more mobile, and much happier than before.

Overall, this arthritis injection for dogs has the potential to significantly improve your dog’s quality of life by helping them manage their chronic pain from arthritis.

golden retriever walking in a yard

Considerations For Librela

It’s important to remember that Librela isn’t a magic cure for arthritis. While it can greatly reduce pain, it won’t reverse the condition itself.  Also, Librela might not be the best choice for every dog with arthritis.  Your veterinarian will consider your dog’s age, overall health, and any other existing medical conditions to determine if Librela is a safe and suitable option.  

There’s also a chance, although unlikely, that your dog might experience some side effects from the injection.  These are usually mild and temporary, but it’s important to be aware of them.  

Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Librela?

While Librela is generally well-tolerated, some dogs may experience side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset like vomiting
  • Increased blood urea nitrogen (an indicator of kidney function)
  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Skin irritation

Because of these factors, talking to your veterinarian is the best way to decide if Librela is the right choice to help your dog manage their arthritis and live a more comfortable life.

What Are Other Treatment Options For Canine Arthritis?

Alongside newer options like Librela, there are several other approaches to managing canine arthritis, offering varying levels of pain relief and support. Here’s a breakdown of some common treatment options:

Medications

Pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can significantly reduce discomfort. Your veterinarian will prescribe the most appropriate medication based on your dog’s needs and any underlying health conditions.

Other options for arthritis pain for dogs include:

Gabapentin –  A readily available FDA-approved medication in humans used for seizures and nerve pain. In dogs, it is used for pain, anxiety and seizures.

Tramadol – A narcotic drug used in dogs for pain, although it is falling of favor in veterinary medicine due to the weakness pain relief.

Amantadine – A mild drug for pain in dogs, Amantadine is often used in conjunction with other medications with similar effects.

Supplements

Certain supplements are thought to promote joint health and potentially reduce inflammation. These include:

Glucosamine and chondroitin: The building blocks of healthy cartilage, these are thought to help slow cartilage breakdown and may offer some pain relief.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve joint health and mobility.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): This may also help reduce inflammation and pain.

Physical Therapy

Exercises and stretches prescribed by a veterinary rehab therapist can help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and maintain joint function.


It’s important to note that supplements are not regulated as strictly as medications and their effectiveness can vary. Always discuss any supplements with your veterinarian before giving them to your dog.  They can advise you on the appropriate dosage and potential interactions with other medications.

Should My Arthritic Dog Lose Weight?

For dogs with arthritis, keeping them at a healthy weight and giving them regular exercise is important. Ensuring they don’t get too heavy helps take pressure off their joints, making them hurt less. Giving them a balanced diet and not letting them overeat helps with this.

Gentle exercises like swimming or short walks, can help with weight loss, make their muscles stronger, and keep their joints flexible. Asking a vet or a specialist for advice on what’s best for your dog can help you make a plan that works for them.

How Else Can I Help My Dog With Arthritis?

There are many other ways to help a dog with arthritis by making small adjustments to their care:

Fight the chill: Provide a heating pad for cold days and dry them thoroughly after walks to avoid dampness. Consider a dog coat for extra warmth outdoors.

Improve grip: Add rugs or anti-slip mats throughout your home to prevent slipping on smooth floors. Explore dog boots for better traction on walks.

Create a sleep haven: Invest in a thick, supportive bed, ideally memory foam, for maximum joint comfort.

Elevate their eats: Raised food and water bowls reduce strain on the neck and shoulders.

Make getting around easier: Utilize ramps or steps to help them get in and out of cars and onto furniture.

Final Note:

Librela offers a promising new option for managing pain in dogs with arthritis.  With its long-lasting pain relief and potential for improved mobility, the arthritis injection for dogs could significantly enhance your dog’s quality of life.  However, it’s important to remember that Librela isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  

Consulting your veterinarian is key to determining if Librela is safe and appropriate for your furry friend.  They can discuss the benefits and considerations, answer any questions you might have, and help you decide if Librela could be the key to helping your dog get back to enjoying life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Is Librela safe for all dogs?

Librela is generally safe for dogs, but it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before administering it. Your vet will consider your dog’s health history and current condition to determine if Librela is suitable and safe for your furry friend

Can Librela be used alongside other medications or treatments?

Your veterinarian will advise on whether Librela can be used alongside other medications or treatments your dog may be receiving. It’s important to inform your vet about any medications or supplements your dog is currently taking to avoid potential interactions. Only use Librela under the guidance of a veterinarian to ensure the safety and efficacy of treatment.

What if Librela does not work for my dog?

Surgery may be an option with severe arthritis or where medication isn’t effective in keeping a dog comfortable. Surgery aims to make your dog more comfortable and improve their quality of life. There are different types of surgery: replacing a joint, joint fusion, and removing part of a joint. Your vet will advise if there is a surgical procedure that may help your dog.

Is Librela expensive?

Librela can be a costly treatment option. The exact cost will vary depending on your veterinarian’s fees and your dog’s size. Just to give you an idea, a Librela injection costs between $110 and $135 in my area (Tampa Bay).  Be sure to discuss the cost with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

What should I do if my dog has a reaction after receiving Librela?

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences any concerning side effects after receiving a Librela injection. This is especially important for more serious reactions like vomiting that doesn’t stop, swelling at the injection site that worsens, or difficulty breathing.

Is Librela safe for pregnant or breeding dogs?

No, Librela is not safe for pregnant or breeding dogs. The medication can potentially harm developing puppies.  Your veterinarian will discuss alternative pain management options if your dog falls into this category.

Can I give Librela to my dog myself at home?

Librela is a prescription medication and should only be administered by a veterinarian.   They will ensure the proper dosage is given and monitor your dog for any immediate reactions.

Does Librela work for cats?

Actually, there is a similar product made specifically for cats called Solensia. This drug is a monoclonal antibody also and can be given by injection once a month for arthritis.

 

Has your pet received Librela yet? Leave a comment below and share your experience with this new drug.

 

Please note that the information provided in this blog post is not intended to serve as official veterinary advice. For personalized guidance and recommendations tailored to your dog’s specific needs, please consult with a licensed veterinarian.

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.
    • 3 months ago

    Librela sounds like a great option for dogs. I’m all for anything for my fur baby to feel well. Thank you for highlighting this arthritis option for dogs.

    • 3 months ago

    Such an interesting and informative article.

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