Galliprant: Will it Help my Dog?

IMG_0154Why Galliprant:

Arthritis is an unfortunate disease that many pets develop in their golden years of life. Nutrition can play a big role in improving a dog’s mobility who has arthritis. First hand, I have seen the amazing effects that a low carb, high protein diet can have to improve the life of a dog with arthritis. But what happens when the diet can’t be tailored to reduce joint pain? This is the predicament I am in with my elderly dog, Lady.

Lady was diagnosed with kidney disease a few years ago. As the disease has progressed, so has her joint pain. For a long time, glucosamine and fish oil kept her joint pain under control, but eventually, I realized she needed additional relief. Anyone who has or has had a dog with kidney disease knows that your diet options are limited. Low phosphorus carbohydrates are a must. These include white rice, couscous, pearled barley, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Only the last two are arthritis friendly, and Lady happens to hate those foods ☹. Managing Lady’s arthritis with diet and nutritional supplementation alone became impossible, and many pain killers are hard on the kidneys, making them bad for kidney patients.

So, what does a loving pet owner do? Luckily, a new drug recently came out on the market that appears to be very safe for dogs with kidney disease. Traditional NSAIDs are notoriously hard on the kidneys, but the new drug, Galliprant, is not a traditional NSAID.

What is arthritis and how do drugs reduce the symptoms?

Before taking a look at how Galliprant specifically works, it is helpful to understand what arthritis is and how NSAIDs usually reduce the symptoms of this disease.

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. While there are different types of arthritis, all types result in inflammation. Lady did not have any form of joint problems in her younger years, but as she aged it became obvious she was having issues. She was stiff when getting up, less playful, and less alert and vibrant. She specifically has osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease. This type of arthritis is the result of the wearing down of cartilage. Many dogs, especially big dogs over 50 lbs., develop this disease as they get older. The disease creates a viscous cycle, because as the dog experiences pain, he becomes less active. With less movement the dog’s muscles become weaker, and this puts more strain on already painful joints. For many dogs, a time comes when the only solution is prescription medications that can reduce inflammation.

Some of the main contributors to inflammation anywhere in the body are prostaglandins (Prostaglandins and Inflammation). Prostaglandins are formed from a cascade of events in the body. While prostaglandins contribute to inflammation, its important to note that they are imperative for homeostatic functions in the body (Prostaglandins and Inflammation). In simple terms, they help the body work the way it is supposed to work. One of the functions of certain prostaglandins is to support the proper function of the kidneys by regulating the dilation of the blood vessels (Significant Acute Kidney Injury Due to Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Inpatient Setting).

So, what do pain relieving pills such as NSAIDs have to do with any of this? Traditional NSAIDs such as carprofen are cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors. COX is important in the production of prostaglandins, including the prostaglandins needed by the kidneys (Prostaglandins and Inflammation). When NSAIDs inhibit cyclooxygenase, they in turn reduce the production of prostaglandins. This is not limited to the prostaglandins that contribute to joint inflammation; it includes the prostaglandins needed for regular kidney function. This is one of the ways NSAIDs can damage the kidneys.

How does Galliprant work?

Prostaglandins have to get to their proper receptor to cause their desired effect. There are many types of receptors in the body. Galliprant does not stop the production of prostaglandins; instead it blocks prostaglandins from reaching the receptors they need to in order to cause inflammation associated with arthritis (See Galliprant website: https://www.galliprantfordogs.com/vet ). This action does not prevent prostaglandins that are needed by the kidneys from being produced. This is a very simplified explanation, but I hope it helps show why Galliprant should be a safer alternative for kidney failure patients than NSAIDs.

As a note, Galliprant does have reported side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea. I suspect more adverse responses will be reported as more dogs take this medication for long periods of time. I don’t particularly like giving my dog a new drug for this reason, but the alternative is to let her be in more pain than she has to be, so I truly believe that the benefits out-way the potential risks.

Lady’s experience with Galliprant:

Galliprant has been helpful in reducing Lady’s joint pain. She is not as mobile as she was in her younger years, but Galliprant has improved her mobility. Before starting this medicine, she seemed more depressed, and was having a hard time jumping on and off furniture. She would often abruptly stop and lay down as if it hurt to continue standing. She was sleeping more as well. Since starting Galliprant, she is more alert and more willing to play. When she is feeling particularly spry, she will chase my other dogs around the yard. She can once again jump on and off the couch. She can no longer jump on the bed which is considerably higher, and I do have to watch her go up and down the staircase to make sure she doesn’t slip. We go on walks still, which is her favorite thing in the world. Our pace is slower, but for a 15-year-old dog she is doing well.

If I had any question as to whether or not Galliprant helps Lady, it was answered when I skipped a dose when I thought it was causing Lady to vomit. That day poor Lady was noticeably stiffer, and she did not want to play with her toys. I never figured out what made her vomit, but I have since continued giving her the medicine with good results and no vomiting.

A side note: I had stopped giving Lady her daily Cosequin DS during a bout of inappetence. I give her Cosequin consistently with the Galliprant now, and I feel this combo works better than Galliprant alone. I just add this to encourage you to continue giving a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement in addition to pain killers since the results seem better from my own experience with my dog.

Conclusion:

Galliprant can make a difference in the life of dogs who have arthritis and concurrent diseases that make typical NSAIDs a bad choice. I have used this medicine to help improve Lady’s mobility for over six months now. It has not returned her to where she was as a young dog, but she can still go for walks and play with the other dogs in my home. More side effects of this drug will probably pop up as more dogs are treated with it; this is the case with most new medications. Despite this, seeing Lady go for walks and play makes it worth the potential drawbacks. As always, work with your veterinarian to come up with the best treatment plan for your individual dog.

Cited articles:

Prostaglandins and Inflammation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081099/

Significant Acute Kidney Injury Due to Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Inpatient Setting – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034033/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s