Your four-legged family member means the world to you. Trust us, we get it. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners. Therefore, we understand how heart-wrenching it can be to witness your dog getting older and experiencing the aches and pains associated with aging.
Unfortunately, dogs are notorious for hiding their pain. When your dog can no longer their pain, oftentimes the pain has progressed quite a bit. Therefore, pet owners must know the clinical signs of pain to be able to recognize when their dog is in pain and needs help.
Furthermore, pet owners need to know what to do after recognizing their dog’s pain. A trip to your vet's office will likely leave you with a canine anti-inflammatory medication that relieves the pain but has many potential negative side effects.
In this article, we'll cover a relatively new medication called Galliprant. We'll also discuss alternative treatment options that are available and why you should strongly consider them.
Pet owners should understand the pros and cons of any new medicine prior to giving it to their furry friend.
What is Galliprant for Dogs
Galliprant (scientific name, grapiprant) for dogs is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that treats pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, also known as oa pain. It requires a prescription and should only be administered under veterinary supervision.
How Does Galliprant Work
Many NSAIDs manage oa pain by inhibiting the COX enzyme, which produces inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. Thus, by inhibiting the COX enzyme, NSAIDs inhibit inflammation. However, these anti-inflammatory medications target the entire COX pathway, including its protective functions. Therefore, many adverse reactions may develop.
Galliprant is different. Rather than targeting the COX enzyme, it inhibits the EP4 receptor, the main contributor of oa pain and inflammation. Galliprant does this without involving the COX pathway.
In fact, due to its safety margins, Galliprant is one of the only NSAIDs that doesn't require regular monitoring of the vital organs that is often necessary for other NSAIDs. Additionally, studies have found that many dogs who weren't able to tolerate other conventional NSAIDs could tolerate Galliprant without any issues.
What is Galliprant Used For
Veterinarians prescribe Galliprant for the control of pain and inflammation associated with canine osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a general term used to describe joint inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common type in dogs. Osteoarthritis affects approximately 20 to 25% dogs.
What is Canine Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is typically a chronic, progressive disease. It often develops as the joint cartilage break down from years of constant activity, resulting in accumulated wear and tear on the joints.
It can also develop early on or very rapidly. For example, canine osteoarthritis can develop before a dog is one years old. Galliprant could be a good choice in this case it is safe to use in dogs as young as nine months old. However, even with Galliprant, long term use requires regular monitoring to ensure that vital organs like the kidneys and liver are still functioning properly.
Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Because osteoarthritis can develop at any age, dog owners should be able to recognize its signs.
One sign, which is subtle and can occur early, is a reluctance to do certain activities that were once enjoyable. Osteoarthritis pain can make even the simplest things more challenging. For example, your dog may shy away from going on walks or find little interest in playing catch.
Other signs include:
- General stiffness
- Decreased mobility
- Reluctance to stand
- Difficulty laying down
- Sleeping excessively
- Intermittent lameness
- Moving slowly with caution
- Limping or dragging the limbs
- Weight gain (from lack of movement)
- Visible joint deformities, including swelling
- Personality changes (e.g., irritability, depression)
- Aggression, especially if arthritic joints are touched
Many of these signs are non-specific, meaning that they can also be associated with other conditions. For this reason, your veterinarian must accurately diagnose your dog’s osteoarthritis. Your veterinarian can also identify underlying health issues, such as obesity, that may need to be addressed before or during osteoarthritis treatment.
What Are NSAIDs for Dogs
Dog owners should have a solid understanding of what NSAIDs are. Even though studies report that Galliprant has markedly fewer negative side effects than those of other NSAIDs, it is still very much an NSAID.
NSAIDs are primarily prescribed to manage pain and inflammation from many ailments, but are frequently prescribed for osteoarthritis pain. NSAIDs may also be prescribed to manage postoperative pain. Common NSAIDs include Carprofen Rimadyl, Metacam (meloxicam), Deramaxx (deracoxib), and Previcox (firocoxib).
Here's where things get worrisome. All NSAIDs come with many potential negative side effects. Although Galliprant's negative side effects aren't as severe as those found with other NSAIDs, they still very much exist. Pet parents must know the side effects of whichever NSAID their dog is prescribed. Also, know that you have options. If you are uncomfortable giving your dog an NSAID that may cause liver or kidney damage, for example, you may want to explore other treatment alternatives.
NSAID overdoses occur in dogs and can happen more easily than you think. For example, Rimadyl chewable tablets are liver-flavored, which makes them easy for pet parents to administer. However, it also makes Fido think of them as more of a treat than a medication. Pet owners must keep all medications out of reach of their dogs. Overdoses can cause severe illness, including bloody vomiting.
When administering Galliprant, follow your veterinarian’s prescribing instructions regarding the dose. We understand just how much a pet parent wants than to alleviate their dog's osteoarthritis pain. However, by no means should a dog owner increase the dose without first talking to their vet. Although many dogs experience only minor negative side effects, if any at all, a Galliprant overdose can make dogs very ill and should always be avoided.
Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate Galliprant dose for your dog’s needs. Keeping that in mind, most dogs experience relief from either one whole or one-half tablet administered once a day.
Before prescribing Galliprant, your veterinarian needs to be aware of your dog’s current prescription medications. Additionally, make sure your vet knows about any allergies and concurrent health issues. This information will help prevent any negative interactions.
For instance, dogs should not take Galliprant in combination with any corticosteroids or COX-inhibiting NSAIDs. Also, dogs with a high sensitivity to Galliprant should not take it.
Finally, because Galliprant is still a relatively new prescription medication, other precautions are still being investigated. For instance, Galliprant has not been tested on dogs less than 9 months and 8lbs, as well as pregnant or lactating dogs, or dogs that suffer from cardiac disease. With all medications, it is always a good idea to occasionally check with the drug company to see if any new information is available.
Galliprant Side Effects
Unlike many other NSAIDs, Galliprant's side effects are infrequent and mild.
The side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are fairly common with NSAIDs. However, with Galliprant, many pet owners report that GI issues aren't nearly as severe as they are with other NSAIDs.
Alternative Pain Medication for Dogs and Cats
Many pet parents find themselves actively seeking alternative pain medications that have even fewer potential adverse reactions. It makes sense. Sure, a conventional drug like Galliprant may relieve your dog's osteoarthritis pain and discomfort but could cause some spells of GI upset or excessive lethargy. Luckily, there are natural ways that dog owners can relieve Fido's pain and avoid NSAIDs’ negative side effects.
Glucosamine for Dogs and Cats
Glucosamine is a natural compound made of a sugar and an amino acid (glucose+glutamine). It promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid and protects the joints. The body produces glucosamine naturally, but adding a glucosamine supplement to a dog’s diet can enhance overall joint health. Glucosamine supplements also serve as a preventive to preserve good joint health.
Finally... diet, diet, diet! We cannot stress the importance of diet enough. For instance, adding a supplement such as omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish oil) can significantly reduce osteoarthritis pain. Additionally, a raw food diet may help promote good joint health. Whichever diet you choose for your dog, make sure that it encompasses all of the necessary nutrition that their body needs. This is crucial for raw food diets, which can either miss nutrients or not have the proper nutritional balance. Trust us, a healthy diet really matters in the long run.
Galliprant for Dogs: A Final Thought
When all is said and done, we want to reiterate that osteoarthritis in dogs should by no means be the end of life as they once knew it. Between advancements in traditional veterinary medicine and new discoveries in holistic wellness, your canine does not have to live in pain.
However, before eagerly agreeing to a new, promising medication, know what is at stake. Do the pros greatly outweigh the cons? Are there alternative options available? Knowledge is power. The more you know about your dog's condition and the medication prescribed to treat it, the better decision you will be able to make for your dog's well-being and quality of life.
Pain relief is possible and maybe closer than you think.
We sincerely hope your canine feels better soon.
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian.
JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership.
Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!