Millions of dogs could enjoy longer, healthier lives if vets were to change their approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA).

old couple
Vet Hannah Capon wants to see more clinics offering external OA management services that incorporate home visits. Image: WavebreakmediaMicro / fotolia.

Figures from Animal Friends Pet Insurance show cases of canine arthritis in the UK rose by 312% between 2012 and 2015, leading to fears within the profession the scale of the problem is not being recognised by the nation’s vets.

However, a new approach, backed by one of the UK’s leading orthopaedic specialists, could revolutionise the way the disease is treated in first opinion practice.

Home visits

Vet Hannah Capon believes OA could be better managed by veterinary professionals spending time in clients’ homes and assessing the environmental factors pets have to deal with daily.

Miss Capon said: “We encourage people to spend thousands of pounds in surgery, hundreds of pounds on courses of laser therapy and so on, but if, when a dog gets home, it keeps falling, stumbling, sleeping on hard surfaces and struggling to get to the toilet without tripping over the back step, it’s all illogical.”

To tackle the problem, Miss Capon wants to see more clinics offering external OA management services that incorporate home visits.

Management tool

A tool to help proactively manage OA has been developed by Stuart Carmichael, an RCVS specialist in orthopaedics, and David Prydie, a leading canine rehabilitation practitioner.

AIM OA is a cloud-based app that enables vets and owners to work together to build a bespoke care plan based on six arthritis management areas, including analgesia, body conditioning score, exercise and diet.

Prof Carmichael said the exciting thing about Miss Capon’s concept was it gave vets time to assess the situation and provides owners with an extra pair of eyes when observing their pet in the home environment.

  • Read the full story – including what Miss Capon considers as problem factors – in the 12 December issue of Veterinary Times.
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