Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear about Rudy's arthritis pain and I understand that you want to make him more comfortable and that you would prefer to treat him yourself if possible.
Veterinarians cannot prescribe medications for any animal that they have not physically examined. To do so would be just cause for loss of their license. This is especially true for drugs like Tramadol that are in the narcotic family. I know that you can empathize that no one wants to lose their ability to practice, as much as we would like to help.
I also would not recommend Tramadol alone for a dog with arthritis, I find it much more effective when used with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like Rimadyl
. Using that combination achieves better pain control and often lets us use lower doses of both drugs, therefore we see less side effects.
Ideally he would see his veterinarian because the prescription medication your veterinarian has for pain will be much safer and work better than any over the counter medications that we take. In fact acetaminophen and ibuprofen aren't used in dogs because their effective doses are very close to a toxic
dose in dogs.
The only over the counter anti-inflammatory that can be used in dogs is buffered, enteric coated aspirin (like ascriptin). Aspirin does cause stomach
and intestinal irritation and ulceration as well as clotting problems so should not be given for more than 3 to 4 days consecutively and should always be given with a meal. If you choose to use it watch for lack of appetite, vomiting, blood in the stools or dark tarry stools and stop immediately if you see those. Do not use aspirin if your dog has liver or kidney disease or a history of a sensitive stomach or clotting problems.
The dose for aspirin is 5mg to 10mg per pound of body weight orally every 12 hours (about one half of a 325mg aspirin for an 18 to 35 pound dog every 12 hours). Always give with a meal. Do not use for more than 2 or 3 days.
Be aware if you choose to use aspirin and it doesn't help your veterinarian will be limited on what they can give as there must be a 5 to 7 day washout period between different nonsteroidals or nonsteroidals and steroids.
You can try alternating warm and cold packs on his painful areas for 10 minutes at a time several times a day.
Make sure to rest him when he is having a rough period, no running , stairs or jumping.
Long term for joint pain I recommend using a combination of a glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). I recommend an omega 3 fatty acid dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 18 pound dog could take 360mg of EPA per day. Omega 3's and glucosamine/chondroitins work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some dogs do very well with them alone. They are available over the counter.
Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: http://www.duralactin.com/products_canine.htm
If aspirin used intermittently and supplements are not enough he should see his veterinarian for prescription drugs that are more potent. Veterinary drugs we can add include a nonsteroidal like Metacam
or Rimadyl. If those aren't enough we can add another drug in the opiod family called Tramadol and/or another drug called Gabapentin. These drugs are much safer and more effective than aspirin. Aspirin used for any length of time will create gastrointestinal ulcers and clotting problems.
Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.