Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is defined as the progressive and permanent long-term deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints. Arthritis is the medical term for inflammation of the joints, while osteoarthritis is the term referring to a form of chronic joint inflammation caused by deterioration of joint cartilage. Older dogs are at the highest risk.

Symptoms of DJD vary. Your dog may exhibit a decreased level of activity, occasional lameness, and a stiff gait that worsens with exercise. These symptoms may increase with exercise, long periods of inactivity, or cold weather.

There is no known cause for primary DJD. However, there are a wide variety of causes for secondary DJD, such as trauma, abnormal wear on joints and cartilage, or a congenital defect present at birth such as an improperly formed hip (also known as hip dysplasia).

Causes of secondary DJD in dogs may include abnormal development of the hip or elbow (hip or elbow dysplasia), dislocation of the kneecap or shoulder, and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a condition in which the bone and cartilage develop abnormally so that a flap of cartilage develops within the joint.

Obesity is another factor for DJD, as it increases stress on joints. In addition, dogs with disorders such as diabetes, prolonged steroid treatment, and hyperlaxity (an excessive looseness of the joints) may also be at higher risk for DJD.


Zoetis has launched two, monthly treatments for osteoarthritis pain: Librela for dogs and Solensia for cats.

Zoetis says Librela (bedinvetmab) and Solensia (frunevetmab) work differently from NSAIDs, the current standard of care, by specifically targeting NGF, a key player in OA pain1.

As monoclonal antibodies, they are eliminated by the body in the same way as naturally occurring proteins, with minimal involvement of the liver or the kidney2.

John Innes, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS (Small Animal Orthopaedics), Chief Veterinary Officer and Referrals Director at CVS said: “The potential for anti-NGF therapy to control OA pain is an exciting new development, representing a new therapeutic class, an innovative tool for clinicians working to alleviate OA pain, and a new medicinal innovation.

"NGF is one of the key factors mediating pain, inducing the release of both proinflammatory mediators and more NGF contributing to a cycle of pain and inflammation. I welcome this innovative tool for clinicians working to alleviate OA pain.”

In a field study (three-month placebo-controlled, followed by six months continuation therapy), Librela administered as monthly injections demonstrated a reduction in osteoarthritis pain as compared to placebo-controlled dogs.

According to the company, the pain reduction was maintained throughout the six-month continuation study, demonstrating sustained efficacy of Librela for at least nine months. 

Solensia administered as monthly injections during two multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind field studies that enrolled a total of 360 cats demonstrated that in both studies, ≥76% Solensia-treated cats were considered a treatment success by the owners and veterinary-assessed joint pain scores decreased by >50% in these cats by study end2.

Mike McFarland, DVM, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Zoetis said: “Globally osteoarthritis (OA) pain impacts nearly 40% of cats and dogs suffering from the condition2,4.

"OA pain is under-diagnosed as pet owners often think signs of pain are related to ‘normal’ signs of ageing.

"The most common medications used to treat OA pain today are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)1, While effective, current treatment choices can have limitations. Additionally, middle aged to senior pets may have other diseases that require multiple medications. Not all pets respond to NSAID therapy and some will not tolerate NSAIDs. This can lead to under-treatment today of OA pain.

“With Solensia for cats and Librela for dogs, veterinarians will now have access to once-monthly breakthrough solutions for the management of pain associated with osteoarthritis – offering a new alternative to veterinarians to improve the quality of life for pets and their owners.”

Librela (bedinvetmab) is launched today in the European Union, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Solensia (frunevetmab) will launch in Europe, United Kingdom and Switzerland in May.

Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady