CAM blogs

CAM Meets Beth Walker

Beth Walker RVN
Beth started studying at Bicton College in 2012. She first qualified as an animal nursing assistant in June 2013, then started training as a veterinary nurse  at Filham Park Vets in November 2013, qualifying in November 2016. She left the practice for a short time in 2015 but soon returned to Filham Park at the start of January 2017. Beth has gained her BVNA merit award in dermatology and has enjoyed implementing her new skills in practice. In her spare time Beth is a team lead with the charity StreetVet.
What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?

I think that the way we manage canine arthritis at the moment has SO much room for improvement, but that to me, is what makes it so exciting. It’s changing on almost a daily basis with new products, techniques and ideas coming around. We’re finally in a position where we’re starting to think that maybe slowing down due to ‘old age’ isn’t just something that should be expected and getting a better idea of how we can really make those ‘golden years’ better for our pets.

Thanks to a recent CAM CPD event in Devon hosted by one of the CAM Nurses, we’ve now started nurse OA clinics at my veterinary practice. They have become one of the most rewarding part of my job. I love taking the time to sit and talk to people about their dog and making a plan that can help improve their quality of life. Seeing people come to the realisation that it’s not all just downhill from the diagnosis of arthritis is amazing and watching the dogs come back a couple of weeks later with a real spring in their step and knowing I’ve been a part of that is truly inspiring.


As a veterinary nurse what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

I think the key to good management is an understanding of the condition, it’s impossible to fully treat something if you don’t understand how it works or what it really entails. The number one thing I hear from owners during our OA clinics is probably “Oh I never thought of that” or “I didn’t realise that”, there are so many small and simple changes that once you understand the condition fully you wonder how you never thought to make them before.  I’ve known the panic fuelled shopping trip, filling my basket with rugs and feeling like a horrendous owner for ever purchasing the dreaded laminate flooring.

Second to this a good strong relationships between, owner, pet and professionals are vital, arthritis management relies on trust and confidence in each other. It’s not easy to admit when things aren’t going well but the only way we can make any difference at these points is when an owner feels they have a good enough relationship to confide in the professional treating their pet, and when the owner is able to pick up on subtle signs in their pet.


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

I really hope that we see a better availability of products and techniques. Right now it’s such a shame that areas of the UK don’t have hydrotherapy centres or the same treatment options available. Osteoarthritis is something which needs a truly holistic approach and without a variety of options available it restricts an animals options and reduces the chance of finding a good level of management, leaving us with the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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?

My one piece of advice would be don’t lose hope. Adopting my own couch potato arthritic dog at 7 years old, I resigned myself to thinking I only had a couple of years at most with my new companion before his legs would give up on him, but now at 9 ½ it’s like owning a puppy. He begs for his walks at the front door and is a social butterfly at the park – all things I would have never dreamed of when he first came home. He’s opened my eyes to so many new things and I honestly can’t thank him enough, or the amazing people I’ve met through his arthritis journey for the knowledge they’ve given me. It’s been invaluable not only as an owner but as a veterinary professional.