CAM blogs

CAM Meets Alison Hunt

Alison Hunt.

Gloucestershire based OrthoPets Europe, was launched in mid 2009 by Alison & Rod Hunt, as an evolution of their 10 years in the field of canine rehabilitation. As the European arm of Denver, Colorado based OrthoPets LLC, the operation is part of the team who have established themselves as industry leaders in Veterinary Orthotic & Prosthetic solutions.

Alison kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?

In short – badly… but improving. Historically, support and advice from one’s Vet has been limited and generally not overly helpful. That is beginning to change, but is still not always as useful as one would wish.  NSAID’s shouldn’t always be the first line of defence, although they obviously have their place in managing arthritis.  Supplements aren’t a proven solution, but providing they don’t cause harm are an option and often their success is based on the owner’s perception of how much they help. Modified lifestyle is obviously vital and an integral part of a multi-modal approach, but this is often the last area to be considered.


As a company supporting owners of arthritic dogs, what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

Education – Initially for the Vet so they are then able to educate the dog owner. There is almost an inevitability about arthritis occurring in our dogs and increasingly at a much younger age.

But why aren’t we considering their lifestyle before the problem crops up? As young dogs, we shouldn’t let them jump out of 4 x 4’s, use ball throwers or throw anything that will encourage them to come to an abrupt stop on picking something up, avoid handbrake turns which only encourages hindquarter traumas. But my dog enjoys it you say? Only until you have to stop it altogether! So what is better, moderated but still fun exercise with activities that require the nose and brain to be used, or pure physical exercise that ultimately won’t wear them out anyway?

Alongside this is of course their weight is as important to our dogs’ joint health as to our own. Another important consideration from a young age which works hand in hand with good quality nutrition.


How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?

It’s hard to predict what new breakthroughs might happen in future years, but considering  progress on human arthritis has been relatively slow for decades, it is likely that canine arthritis will follow suit. That said, with vets and owners being far more aware of the issue and considerably more knowledgeable, at the very least the management of arthritis in our dogs will be much easier to maintain.


If you could have the opportunity to give one tip/piece of advice to an owner with a dog suffering from arthritis, what would it be?

Lifestyle! Lifestyle! Lifestyle! Shorter, more frequent walks. Soft ground rather than hard. Weight management. Comfortable, supportive beds. A good quality harness to help with mobility. And be prepared to put yourself out – it’s time consuming, requires patience and understanding, but your dog will thank you for it a thousandfold!!!