CAM blogs

CAM Meets Amy Kings

Amy has been working as a physiotherapist since 2012, and qualified with her Veterinary Physiotherapy MSc from Hartpury in 2018. She joined the team at The Win Clinic in Somerset in 2019 and working within this specialist team of physiotherapists enabled her to focus her interests in canine physiotherapy and rehabilitation. In 2021 she completed a research project investigating hypermobility in dogs and was able to present this at the ACPAT seminar later that year. At the Win Clinic she treats a clinically-varied caseload including management of OA, orthopaedic, neurological and other musculoskeletal conditions, as well as management of the sporting dog.

Amy has kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?
I feel that we are in an exciting time of developing understanding, recognition and treatment of canine arthritis. It seems that there are so many more veterinarians and therapists who are developing specific interests in assessment and management of OA related pain; new drugs are being developed such as Librela; and it is more common for owners to be signposted to therapy when they are presented with this diagnosis. However, there is still a widespread lack of understanding among the huge population of dog owners and many dogs are still being labelled as “getting old” when they start to show signs of pain, often when they are still quite young! I think educating owners needs to be at the forefront of managing canine OA, and this needs to start with GP vets as they are working on the frontline of canine healthcare. Hopefully the multi-disciplinary approach to managing arthritis that is already rolled out and backed by literature in human healthcare will become more commonplace in the veterinary world too.

As a veterinary professional/rehabber what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?
All the things that CAM promote: optimising your dog’s home environment; ensuring appropriate levels of activity with regard to duration, type and location; educating ourselves to be able to spot signs of pain or disability in our dogs early and manage flare ups quicker; building good relationships with our vets and therapists to promote top care for our dogs including analgesia and other therapies. Most owners want the best for their dogs and it is up to us to inform on best practice and support owner decision making. From a physiotherapist’s point of view, every dog will have different goals and treatment targets but being able to confidently assess pain from the owner’s history of their dog’s behaviour, and from visual and hands-on assessment, is essential for managing canine arthritis.

How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?
There seems to be a new focus on developing pain medications for arthritis in dogs which has given us new options for optimising pain relief in dogs suffering with osteoarthritis. We are also seeing electrotherapy tools such as PEMF and laser therapy becoming much more common place. Newer treatments such as the Indiba, a radiofrequency electrotherapy, has been shown to have very good effect in human arthritis and centres offering this treatment for small animals are becoming more locally available.

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?
I have too many tips for helping dogs with arthritis that all feel super important… if I have to pick one it would be: “be an advocate for your dog”. They are naturally stoic about demonstrating pain and we have to rely on spotting the signs they do give us and take these seriously. Our dogs are completely dependent on us so noticing when they are sore and supporting them is our responsibility. If your dog is sitting down on walks they are not lazy, if they are groaning when they get up from rest they are not being dramatic, if they are grumbling when your friend’s puppy comes round they are not anti-social. We need to listen to what they tell us and use this as a prompt to get them checked and treated appropriately.