Osteoarthritis – top tips on how to recognise it and help your dog

Chocolate Labrador patient at Fitzpatrick Referrals Osteoarthritis Clinic

Chocolate Labrador patient Ruby in consultation at Fitzpatrick Referrals Osteoarthritis Clinic.

To mark World Arthritis Day on Friday 12th October 2018, Fitzpatrick Referrals is sharing some helpful tips and advice on managing osteoarthritis in dogs.

We spoke to our Lead Vet in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pete van Dongen and Clinical Research Officer, Cameron Black, who leads our stem cell-based regenerative therapies available through Fitzpatrick Referrals’ Osteoarthritis Clinic.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting dogs. It causes pain, is incurable and progressive and it can severely affect the quality of life of your dog.

Here are some pointers about how to recognise it, how it is diagnosed and treated and when to seek advice for referral to a specialist referral practice.

How do I recognise OA in my dog?

  • Pain: Dogs rarely show overt pain though, so it may only show as slowing down, getting stiff, playing less, eating less or other behavioural changes
  • Lameness or stiffness, especially after rest following exercise or in the mornings
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Restlessness or difficulty finding a comfortable position
  • Licking their joints

How is OA diagnosed by your primary care vet?

  • Physical examination, after taking a thorough history
  • Laboratory testing, like blood and urine tests, or joint taps
  • Imaging, like X-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound
  • Gait analysis
  • Checking the response to treatment

How is OA treated?

  • Pain relief. This is the most important and can be in the form of many different medications
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise modification
  • Home environment adaptations
  • Diet and supplements
  • Complementary treatments, such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, rehabilitation, acupuncture, chiropractic and others
  • Intra-articular injections
  • Regenerative medicine, such as stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP)
  • Surgery

When to ask for a referral to the specialist Osteoarthritis Clinic at Fitzpatrick Referrals?

  • Early intervention is best when it comes to treating OA. Fitzpatrick Referrals can work alongside your primary care vet in providing a multi-faceted plan for treating and managing your dog’s OA
  • If your dog does not or no longer responds to the treatments it receives
  • If you would like to explore a range of innovative treatment modalities, including the latest medications and biological therapies, such as regenerative medicine

As always, if you have any health concerns about your pet, please seek the advice of your local vet. If they feel a referral to a specialist is required, they will be able to arrange this for you.

Read about the referral process

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