Sorry folks -- haven't been around much this weekend.
Yes -- it's a side effect because pred messes with how the body retains fluid and how it does and does *not* get rid of that fluid. They tend to be thirsty ALL THE TIME -- make sure and certain you do not restrict the ability of the dog to get water ***at all times***. It is so critical.
Yes, they drink more, then may pee more, and may appear incontinent (pred also messes with muscle tissue and can interfere with the brain's ability to successfully say "hold it a while longer" or "Ok - I'm outside now and I CAN pee ... er ... why CAN'T I? ack ... I can't GO!!!" then they walk back inside and it suddenly releases.
I've taken pred enough myself and that's a common side effect with ME.
Pred would *not* be my choice of any sort of arthritis treatment. It actually exacerbates arthritis longer term because it can and will mess with any of the remaining cartilage and make IT more fragile and cause it to deteriorate more rapidly.
Agnes -- I've got a whole list of stuff I can send you that will help with arthritis without side effects -- and many of them can help you keep the need for pharmaceuticals at a minimum.
This isn't a snide question -- I'm completely serious. Do you have arthritis yourself? Have you got any personal experience with a human who has had arthritis?
Learning to help manage a dog's arthritis when you are unfamiliar with the disease yourself is harder than it is if you understand it from personal experience.
Arthritis is essentially inflammation (which is why they've prescribed pred -- which is a steroidal anti-inflammatory). NSAIDs like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, etc are "Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories".
ANY anti-inflammatory (that includes herbal ones as well) can have a bad side effect if you go too far with it.
However, successful **management** of arthritis deals with preventing the inflammation from happening ... *BEFORE* it happens, in other words. Often you have to do a small amount of some sort of nsaid on an on-going basis -- BUT if you combine it with a relaxant (to take the stress off arthritic joints so the little bit of nsaid can do MORE with less interference) and mostly if you avoid the activity that worsened the arthritis to begin with you *manage* it better.
See, it isn't walking or activity that actually makes arthritis. It's going TOO far. Dogs don't have an understanding of that -- they're stoic so they will do a thing until they absolutely can not go ANY further. Then it looks like walking, running, or whatever caused the problem -- it wasn't. It was going **too far** that caused it.
With arthritis, you have to stop*short* of pain. You go to that first bit of pain and stop and rest. Relax the joint. THEN you go further. It may take you longer to get there, but you won't be in agony when you do!
So dog guardians have to make them take it slowly. You don't go for a half hour walk. (even if you used to walk five miles). You walk to the end of the block - and stop. Wait a few minutes. Walk further. But all along the way you stop to touch them on the neck -- tension will usually be felt there if there is pain they are trying not to show!! If you can't tell -- err on the side of caution and stop VERY frequently. Often you can go a long way IF IF IF you stop very frequently and rest those joints.
Don't ask a dog to 'sit' repeatedly. It usually exacerbates arthritis. Instead go for a 'down' (as in lie down) -- it's more of a fully restful position and is less hard on the hips and back. You can even play ball and do 'fun' things if you throw the ball once or maybe 2 times and then STOP, lie down and chill for a few minutes. Then throw it once more. Then STOP again. But you can't go until the dog looks tired, or limps or shows pain.
IF they show pain you've gone way way too far -- you've gone to "inflammation". SERIOUS inflammation. Even if you stop when you first *see* pain you've let the dog go way way way way too far. Because they *are* so stoic.
Touch the scruff of your dog's neck when at rest. When they aren't in pain (sleep is good). See how loose it is. Touch it at the beginning of a walk (not just when you leash them -- they'll be excited then). By becomming familiar with that tension you'll better be able to gauge stress.
You truly want to STOP immediately when you feel any tension or stress there -- I often tell people with arthritic dogs that a wagon can be your best friend. Let the dog lie IN the wagon while you are in the yard (keep something in there so it's not hot/cold or uncomfortable). Teach the dog (treats work well here) to "stay" in the wagon so you can pull them. So they learn to 'ride' (lying down "riding").
So you drag the wagon on walks. Walk a block -- let them ride a block. Walk another block. Ride a block. But that way there is no over-doing -- and YOU can walk as long as you want. You get air, you get a change of scenery -- the dog gets exercise but not too much.
Most arthritic dogs take to a wagon like a duck to water -- even if you have other dogs with you -- if you handle the training well, it will be as "cool" to be IN the wagon as out of it. No 'standing' in the wagon -- you lie down.
Now -- watch it -- a severely arthritic animal may have a tough time with up and down ... so be sensitive to that as well. But the point of the wagon is that you enable them to 'go with' -- they aren't left behind and out of the fun stuff, but they don't 'hurt' either.
Add to this stuff like pet massage (which is such an incredible incredible tool for the arthritic dog -- and a professional dog massage is worth it's weight in gold if you are in an area where you can find someone -- OR DO IT YOURSELF). Acupuncture is such an awesome tool to keep down the pain of arthritis.
It was a vet who taught **ME** about the benefit of acupuncture (Dr. Roger Clemmons at the University of Florida) -- we had dinner with him one night and he noticed *my* arthritis and discovered it was mutual "problem" - from there I learned how beneficial it was for ME and later used it on arthritic pets.
But I can tell you it doesn't hurt and man, the relief is awesome. the big deal is finding a *GOOD* acupuncturist. http://www.tcvm.com is the Chi Institute and there is a locator on the left.
Again -- it will help. Agnes -- I'm glad to send you that list if you want it. It's far more than what I've written here.
Bottom line -- the dog may avoid water because they're smart enough to know it makes them have to pee -- but without the water they pant. Because ... they're hot and thirsty.
But ou have to stay concerned because it's hard for we laypeople to tell the difference between a "pant" because of heat or thirst and a pant that results from a heart cough. Big deal -- big difference -- hard to tell sometimes. So yes, you do have to watch them carefully.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." Helen Keller