CAM blogs

CAM Meets Carrie Smith

Carrie Smith graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. She holds a certificate GUNN IMS (dry needling), a certificate in Acupuncture from the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute and a certificate in sports physiotherapy.

Carrie was the team physiotherapist for the Canadian Women’s National Hockey Team 1996-1998 including the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan and team physiotherapist for the Canadian Men’s National Rugby Team 2007-2012, including the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Since 2018 Carrie has been the physiotherapist for the Canadian WAO Team (World Agility Open) and she is the owner of Kemptville Physiotherpay Centre and Kemptville Canine Centre.


Carrie kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

I don’t think OA is managed very well at all, I think a lot of dogs suffer from arthritis when they don’t have to. A lot of owners will put senior pet symptoms like stiffness, slowing down, groaning, etc. down to “old age” and they often ignore it. We need to educate owners more about the numerous things that can help reduce arthritic pain like diet, exercise, manual therapies, modalities, medication, supplements, bedding, outerwear, joint bracing supports, etc. I LOVE treating older animals because they get so much better (and usually within a few treatments) and we add life to their remaining years (and even add more years!).


As a canine rehabilitation therapist and physiotherapist what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

As a Canine Rehab Therapist and human Physiotherapist, MOTION IS LOTION! Older animals need to keep moving! Many of our owners have multi-dog households and the puppies always get lots of attention, the adult dogs are going to training classes and sporting events, and the retired seniors stay at home and sleep on the couch. These retired dogs miss the action and interaction, so I always recommend that owners start doing something special, one on one, with their older dogs. This sometimes means switching sports to something like scent detection, which is easier on the body and great for the mind! Older dogs need specialised fitness programs to keep their hind limbs strong and help reduce the hind end weakness and balance deficits that are so common.


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

With the amount of research, improvement in nutrition and supplements, earlier detection and advanced medical treatments, I think that arthritis will be much better managed ten years from now. Starting younger dogs on supplements to help support joint health, education about weight management to reduce the forces on the joints, and earlier interventions like PRP or stem cells may really help to reduce the signs and symptoms of arthritis.


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 for an owner of a dog suffering from arthritis would be… it’s never too late to start! Start some classes, start some medication, start some rehab, start something! Don’t just give up and figure that nothing can be done, because these are the dogs we see every day and there are so many improvements you can make, even if you can’t undo the arthritic changes.