Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Anti-Inflammatories for Degenerative Joint Disease

©2000 Melissa Kaplan


There is little information on degenerative joint diseases (such as arthritis) in herps, and still less on the use of anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the pain, reduce the inflammation, and stop, if not actually help reverse, the damage to the joints.

The following information was culled from sources primarily related to dogs and cats, two species for which a great deal of research and documented anecdotal information exists. While some of the treatments described may include the use of over-the-counter medications, herbs and other supplements, I strongly recommend you not use any of these products without first getting your herp comprehensively examined by a herp veterinarian, rather than guessing at the cause of its symptoms, and do not attempt to self-treat with any substance without first discussing it with your vet.

Dr. Patrick Vall, Maple Springs Vet Clinic, on NSAIDS and PGAs in canine hip displasia
Non-steroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDs) that are most often used include Rimadyl (carprofen) and Etogesic (etodolac). These medications decrease inflammation and the resulting pain associated with hip dysplasia. The two noted above are very potent and overall very safe NSAIDs. Potential side effects in a small percentage of patients include vomiting, diarrhea and liver toxicity. Most dogs receive these medications daily with little or no problems, but monitoring of certain blood values every 4-6 months is required. Human equivalent NSAIDs include aspirin and ibuprofen. Aspirin has actually been shown to worsen arthritis when used chronically and ibuprofen can be intensely irritating to a dogs stomach. (MK comments: Assume the latter two precautions to be true with herbivorous reptiles, and likely true with all herps.)

Polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PGAs) are cartilage-protective agents that increase the quality of the joint and hopefully delay the progression of degenerative joint disease. While they are not direct analgesics (pain killers), I firmly believe based on my clinical experience that they often indirectly decrease pain associated with degenerative joint disease. They are very safe and have few, if any, side effects. Oral PGAs that I most frequently prescribe are I and Glycoflex. Adequan is an injectable PGA that is also frequently used.

Drug Information

Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?

Can't find a vet on my site? Check out these other sites.

Amphibians Conservation Health Lizards Resources
Behavior Crocodilians Herpetology Parent/Teacher Snakes
Captivity Education Humor Pet Trade Societies/Rescues
Chelonians Food/Feeding Invertebrates Plants Using Internet
Clean/Disinfect Green Iguanas & Cyclura Kids Prey Veterinarians
Home About Melissa Kaplan CND Lyme Disease Zoonoses
Help Support This Site   Emergency Preparedness

Brought to you thanks to the good folks at Veterinary Information Network, Inc.

© 1994-2014 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site