Practical Matters: That old, slow dog: Is it really arthritis?
To definitively diagnose arthritis, arthrocentesis is needed to prove inflammation of the joint in question. Short of that, you can tentatively diagnose clinically relevant arthritis if the dog has specific joint pain and supportive radiographic findings.
If the dog is slowing down because of a neuropathy, switching to another NSAID or changing the dosage will not affect the problem. The dog may need advanced diagnostics such as myelography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging to determine the cause of the neuropathy.Physical rehabilitation may help strengthen and increase the quality of life in older dogs that have either arthritis or a neuropathy, and it can be used concurrently with other therapies once the diagnosis has been confirmed. So before switching your NSAID, remember to always look for other underlying issues.
Julie D. Smith, DVM, DACVS