The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is to open what it claims is the UK’s first specialist clinic for sporting, show and working canines.

The clinic will be focusing on an area sometimes neglected by regular vets, said the RVC.

The new Sports Medicine, Osteoarthritis and Pain Clinic (SMOAPC) will offer physical therapy, underwater treadmills and musculoskeletal ultrasound, and be led by Pilar Lafuente, one of three American specialists in canine sports medicine and rehabilitation in Europe.

Sporting and working dogs, including border collies, hounds, terriers and German shepherds, can suffer from chronic and sport specific injuries such as stress fractures, impact injuries and tendon issues that don’t usually affect the more traditional domesticated household pet canine. Therefore the college will also offer MRI scanning and scintigraphy and objective gait analysis with a pressure mat, while full-time veterinary physiotherapist Emily Cowderoy will oversee the underwater treadmill and swimming pool as well as electrical stimulation and physical therapies.

The RVC also aims to offer a “transdisciplinary specialist approach” into the treatment of osteoarthritis and chronic pain management for domestic cats and dogs, with Chris Seymour and his anaesthesia and analgesia team providing support for patients suffering from chronic pain that doesn’t respond to common therapies.

RVC staff in other departments will also provide support, including those from the orthopaedic, physiotherapy, neurology and neurosurgery, soft tissue surgery, oncology, cardiology, internal medicine and diagnostic imaging teams.

Clinical director of the RVC’s small animal referral services Holger Volk said: “As in human medicine, as doctors specialise they can lose sight of the big picture, only focusing on their own area of expertise. This can lead to patients being passed from specialist to specialist with the root clinical signs never really being discovered.

“The RVC is leading the way by building transdisciplinary teams working together to achieve the best individual care for pets and animals.”

Dr Lafuente – who is also a recognised American and European specialist in small animal surgery – agreed the injuries and ailments common in sporting and working dogs do not get the specific expertise needed from regular vets.

“For example, agility dogs have a lot of shoulder injuries, tendon and muscle injuries,” she said. “Greyhounds often suffer from stress fractures and muscle injuries, while working dogs, such as police German shepherds, can develop hip and back problems, such as hip dysplasia or lumbosacral disease. That is why this clinic is so important.”

Telephone 01707 666366 for more information or to refer a patient to the SMOAP clinic.

Read the full story by Trudi Gibson on the clinic in the next Veterinary Times (45.6).

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