|The topic of pain relief is one of the biggest areas of modern conventional veterinary medicine. Dogs and cats can often suffer from progressive degenerative joint and spinal disorders that can cause great discomfort and interfere with the quality of life in both dogs and cats. The cornerstone of treatment of chronic pain in dogs and cats in recent years has centered around the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox in dogs and Metacam and Ketoprofen in cats. Other drugs of the opioid class such as prescription Buprenex and Tramadol have also been used in recent years in aging pets with chronic pain.|
Nutritional therapies with glucosamine/chondroitin supplements such as Super Joint Enhancer or the Glyco-Flex products, as well as omega-3 fatty acids can also help as adjunctive therapies. Alternative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, osteopathy, and physical therapy also offer animal guardians additional options. Recently, however, there has been increasing interest and use in both dogs and to a lesser extent in cats of the drug known as Amantadine, which blocks pain by binding to what are known as NMDA receptors. While it was first developed as an antiviral drug and to treat drug reactions that affect coordination, veterinarians have recently been increasingly using it in animals whose pain is not sufficiently controlled with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioid derivatives such as Tramadol or Buprenex.
A recent study in dogs showed that the ability to perform every day activities was significantly improved by the addition of Amantadine to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory regimen that the dogs were already on. Experts suggest perhaps decreasing the dose in pets with reduced kidney function, but the only significant side effects appear to be agitation or diarrhea on rare cases. This is definitely a prescription medication that may come to play a key role in managing chronic pain in dogs and possibly cats in the future.