It's painful to watch our furry friends suffer. Their loyalty and companionship have brightened our lives, and they deserve relief from the aches and pains of osteoarthritis—a common affliction as they age. The key? Early identification and effective management to elevate their quality of life. Now we have a new management tool for osteoarthritis pain, Librela® for dogs!
Dive into this post where I unpack the ins and outs of canine osteoarthritis (OA): recognize the signs, understand the treatment options, and explore comprehensive management strategies.
And here's the exciting part: Enter Librela® (bedinvetmab), a breakthrough medication offering a beacon of hope for our ailing dogs. Now available for pre-order in the United States, I’ll delve deep into what makes Librela® for dogs a real game-changer. Learn about its proven success, minimal side effects and administration frequency. Plus, see how it differs from Solensia® for cats.
And I don't receive a thing from Zoetis. I've just seen how good this new product is and want all senior dogs to have the benefits.
I've already seen it work! We started giving it to our 13.5-year-old field-bred English Springer Spaniel, Dream (above & below), about three weeks ago. She had slowed down considerably and started taking the long way around the deck to the stairs to come in the house. She's still happy, ecstatic when she can find a bird to carry around. A few days after getting Librela®, she actually brought me a warm, but dead, Nuthatch, breaking my heart. I still can't imagine her being fast enough to catch a small bird at her age.
Dr. Greg's resident-mate, Dr. Jacqui Bloch-Miles started giving Librela® to her 14-year-old, Bennet, in September of 2023 as soon as she was able to acquire a dose. Jacqui was kind enough to share some dramatic "before & after" videos of Bennet. The first video is Bennet before Librela®, not wanting to play and having trouble just getting around. Just eight days after his first injection of Librela®, Bennet was initiating play! This stuff is a real game-changer for our elderly dogs!
Bennet before his first injection of Librela®
Bennet 8 days after first Librela® injection
Equipped with this knowledge, imagine the relief, comfort, and rejuvenated spirit you can bring back to your beloved dog. Because they deserve to live their best lives, pain-free and filled with joy.
As always, grab some time with your vet. They're the pros who'll guide you to the safest and most effective ways to keep your dog’s osteoarthritis in check.
What is Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
Picture your spirited pup, lively and full of zest. Now imagine age or genetics slowing them down, as osteoarthritis creeps into their joints. This common ailment stealthily wears away their cartilage, ushering in discomfort, stiffness, and a notable reluctance to frolic as before. It's a scene where playful bounds are replaced with limps and a hesitant pause at the stair's foot.
As a menacing thief, OA steals the joy of movement from 20-37% of dogs over a year old, leaving behind chronic pain and a longing for lost adventures. It's a reality where the routine relief - NSAIDs - casts its own shadows, offering limited respite amidst potential adverse reactions.
Spotting Arthritis Risks in Dogs: A Quick Guide
- Age - Our furry friends' golden years may bring osteoarthritis alongside precious memories.
- Breed - Some breeds have a genetic history woven with a higher risk of osteoarthritis.
- Weight - Extra pounds bear down on joints, making arthritis more likely.
- Joint Stability - Conditions like hip dysplasia can lay a foundation for future arthritis.
- Repetitive Stress - Constant activity, especially on hard surfaces, can wear down those precious joints.
- Trauma - Past injuries can silently usher in joint issues over time.
- Inflammation - Inflammatory diseases can unexpectedly light the fire of arthritis.
- Abnormal Bone Formation - Certain hereditary conditions may invite osteoarthritis early on.
In the maze of life, knowing these signs can help keep your dog’s journey as smooth and comfortable as possible!
How Does a Veterinarian Diagnose Osteoarthritis in a Dog?
A physical examination and tests are crucial in identifying osteoarthritis in dogs. Diagnosing the condition entails observation of gait and movement by a veterinarian and conducting X-rays or other imaging tests to confirm it. Vets usually inquire about the medical history of your furry friend and their behavior changes while ruling out other possible causes of joint pain. Detecting osteoarthritis early is pivotal to managing pain.
Osteoarthritis Pain Management in Dogs
Managing osteoarthritis in dogs requires careful attention to weight management. A healthy body weight can significantly reduce stress on joints and improve mobility and range of motion.
For dogs suffering from osteoarthritis, low-impact exercises such as swimming or walking on soft surfaces can aid in reducing joint pain and stiffness. It is best to avoid high-impact activities like jumping or running on hard surfaces that could exacerbate the condition. A professional dog trainer or your veterinarian can help you create an exercise plan that is tailored to your dog's needs and is both safe and effective.
Prescription Medications for Managing OA in Dogs
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to manage pain, inflammation, and fever in both humans and animals, including dogs.
COX-2 inhibitors specifically reduce the production of prostaglandins responsible for inflammation by inhibiting the action of the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme. They inhibit COX-2 while sparing the COX-1 enzyme, which helps to maintain stomach lining, kidney function, and platelet count.
- Carprofen (Rimadyl, Vetprofen)
- Meloxicam (Metacam)
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
- Firocoxib (Previcox)
- Robenacoxib (Onsior)
It's critical to use only veterinarian-prescribed NSAIDs for dogs to ensure their safety and health.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to manage pain, inflammation, and fever in both humans and animals, including dogs.
For osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs, corticosteroids are generally used sparingly due to potential long-term adverse effects. However, when used, the following are more commonly prescribed for their potent anti-inflammatory effects:
- Prednisone/Prednisolone: Oral administration for systemic effects. Short courses may help manage OA flare-ups.
- Triamcinolone: Used for intra-articular (into the joint) injections to provide localized relief from inflammation and pain in OA.
- Methylprednisolone: Methylprednisolone acetate can be used for intra-articular injections in OA. It may also be given orally for systemic anti-inflammatory effects.
Notes: These corticosteroids can provide relief from the symptoms of OA, but their use should be closely monitored by a veterinarian to minimize potential side effects. The use of other non-steroidal medications or supplements might be more suitable for long-term management of OA in dogs.
Gabapentin is a medication originally developed to treat seizures in humans, but it is frequently used in veterinary medicine as a pain reliever and anti-epileptic drug. It can be particularly effective in managing chronic pain in dogs, including pain related to osteoarthritis.
Gabapentin works by stabilizing electrical activity in the nervous system and affecting the release of certain neurotransmitters, which can help to reduce pain signals from the nervous system.
Gabapentin can help manage neuropathic pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis, providing relief and improving the quality of life for affected dogs. It is also use as adjunct therapy in conjunction with other pain relievers, like NSAIDs or opioids, to enhance pain control.
Gabapentin is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and oral solution. The dosage and frequency of administration depend on your dog's weight, condition, and response to the drug. It's typically given every 8-12 hours. It's important to follow the veterinarian’s prescription instructions to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
Potential side effects of gabapentin include drowsiness or sedation, ataxia (loss of coordination), and astrointestinal upset (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea).
Gabapentin should be used with caution in dogs with kidney issues as it is primarily excreted by the kidneys. You should never discontinue the use of gabapentin suddenly. Tapering the dose is recommended to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
While gabapentin can be a valuable part of a multimodal pain management strategy for dogs with osteoarthritis, it's essential for it to be prescribed and monitored by a veterinarian to ensure the most effective and safe use for each individual dog.
Amantadine is a medication that is used to manage pain in dogs. It was originally developed as an antiviral medication but is now also used as an adjunctive analgesic for chronic pain, including osteoarthritis pain in dogs. It is thought to work by blocking NMDA receptors in the nervous system, which play a role in pain sensation. NMDA stands for N-methyl-D-aspartate. It is a specific type of receptor in the nervous system that plays a role in transmitting pain signals.
Potential side effects of amantadine are generally mild but may include: gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting), lethargy, and agitation. It should be used cautiously in dogs with heart or kidney issues. Its use should always be supervised by a veterinarian to ensure optimal dosing and monitoring for the well-being of the dog.
Tramadol is sometimes used to treat canine osteoarthritis (OA). It's an opioid analgesic that can provide pain relief for dogs suffering from arthritis or other painful conditions. Tramadol works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain to block the sensation of pain.
However, it's worth noting that it doesn't have anti-inflammatory properties, so it doesn't treat the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, which is a significant source of pain for many dogs. It's often used in combination with other medications, such as NSAIDs, to manage OA symptoms effectively.
As with any medication, it's crucial to follow the veterinarian's dosing recommendations and monitor your dog for any side effects or adverse reactions. Many veterinarians will not prescribe Tramadol because of its potential for misuse by humans.
Supplementing your dog's diet with Omega-3 fatty acids can be an effective way to address canine osteoarthritis. The essential fatty acids EPA and DHA found in omega-3 supplements are known to reduce inflammation, improve joint health, promote a shiny coat, and enhance overall well-being. Here are some types and brands of Omega-3 supplements that are often used for dogs:
- Fish Oil: Derived mainly from cold-water fish, it’s a common source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Krill Oil: Made from tiny shrimp-like animals, it’s more sustainable and might be absorbed more easily.
- Algal Oil: Derived from algae, it’s a plant-based option that’s sustainable and free from fishy ingredients.
- Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet: A well-known brand that produces non-GMO Omega-3 supplements from wild-caught fish.
- Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil: Made from wild Alaskan salmon, it provides Omega-3 fatty acids along with Omega-6.
- Grizzly Pollock Oil Supplement for Dogs: Derived from wild Alaskan Pollock, it's a more affordable option compared to salmon oil.
- Vetoquinol Triglyceride Omega Liquid: A vet-recommended liquid supplement that's easy to add to your dog's food.
- Nutramax Welactin: Available in liquid or softgel form, it's formulated to support skin and coat health as well as overall wellness.
Note: These are not paid endorsements of these products, merely examples of good brands in this space. Always consult with your veterinarian.
- Ensure the supplement is free from harmful additives and is sourced sustainably.
- Check the EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) levels, as higher levels typically offer more health benefits.
- Always consult your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog's diet to ensure the correct dosage and to avoid potential interactions with other medications or health issues.
Glycosaminoglycans are natural compounds that are often used in the management of osteoarthritis in dogs because of their role in maintaining cartilage structure and function. They are usually used as joint supplements rather than drugs. Commonly used glycosaminoglycan supplements for dogs include:
- Glucosamine: Often used in combination with chondroitin sulfate to support joint health and mobility. It is available in various formulations and brands.
- Chondroitin Sulfate: Often used with glucosamine, it helps to provide structure and flexibility to the joints.
- Hyaluronic Acid: It is used to improve joint function and reduce inflammation.
- Brand Names: Cosequin, Dasuquin, GlycoFlex, and others.
Librela® (bedinvetmab) is a prescription medication designed to treat joint pain in dogs suffering from degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, or hip dysplasia. Bedinvetmab is a canine-specific monoclonal antibody targeting nerve growth factor (NGF), which plays a crucial role in how pain is transmitted in the nervous system.
Administered once a month via injection, this medication has minimal side effects and can be safely used long-term. With regular use of Librela®, your dog can enjoy improved mobility, reduced stiffness and swelling, without needing NSAIDs or corticosteroids with all of their potential adverse effects.
If you're looking to improve your dog's mobility and reduce their chronic pain from joint diseases or osteoarthritis, please consult with your vet to determine if Librela® is right for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions about Librela®
Does Librela® for dogs work for every dog?
Unfortunately, no. In one European study, dogs treated with bedinvetmab showed higher success rates compared a placebo group. By day 28, 43.5% of dogs treated with bedinvetmab achieved success, compared to only 16.9% in the placebo group. The treatment success continued on days 56 (50.8%) and 84 (48.2%) in the bedinvetmab group, while it remained below 25% in the placebo group at all time points. Adverse health events occurred similarly in both groups and were typical of dogs with osteoarthritis but unrelated to the study treatment. The efficacy of Librela® in dogs (50-60%) is somewhat less than that of Solensia® in cats, (about 77%).
How does Librela® similar to Solensia® and how is it different?
Librela® and Solensia® are similar in that they treat joint pain in pets with monthly injections of monoclonal antibodies against Nerve Growth Factor. However, Librela® is specifically designed for dogs while Solensia® is for cats, and the active ingredients differ (bedinvetmab for dogs versus frunevetmab for cats).
What are the side effects of Librela®? (Librela® for dogs side effects)
The side effects of Librela are really quite rare. Mild reactions at the injection site (e.g. swelling and heat) may uncommonly be observed (less than 1% of dogs). Hypersensitivity-type reactions have been reported very rarely (less than 0.01% of dogs).
How long does it take Librela® to take effect?
The beneficial effects of Librela® may start within 24 hours, but it may take up to a week for full effectiveness. The results may vary depending on the joint pain's severity and the progression of the dog's osteoarthritis. Consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding the dosage or effectiveness of Librela®.
How often does Librela® for dogs need to be administered?
Librela® is a veterinary medication containing bedinvetmab, a monoclonal antibody used for managing pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. According to the manufacturer, Zoetis, Librela® is administered as a monthly (every 4 weeks) subcutaneous injection, given by a veterinarian. Results may take a few days to a week, or even as soon as 24 hours for some.
Can my dog still take other medications while on Librela?
No interactions were observed in field studies when this veterinary medicine was administered with other veterinary medicines. In a laboratory study, bedinvetmab had no adverse effects when given with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory product.
How much does Librela for Dogs cost?
I can only estimate the cost as every veterinary clinic will be a little different . It will depend on the weight of your dog, too. Librela will likely cost between $80-$200 per month plus the visit to your veterinarian. Very large dogs will need two vials of the largest dose per month.
Is there a version of Librela for Cats?
Content reviewed and approved by Dr. Gregory M. Kuhlman, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
Dr. Kuhlman earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin. Following an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the VCA Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Arizona, he completed a residency in internal medicine at Texas A&M University. Dr. Kuhlman enjoys all aspects of internal medicine, but he has a special interest in gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He has a passion for the treatment and management of the canine athlete and has been competing in and judging English springer spaniel field trials for over 20 years. He has a special interest in treating the canine athlete. On his days off, he can usually be found out training his dogs for AKC field trials, hunting upland game with his dogs, fly fishing or training for Ironman triathlons.