CAM blogs

CAM Meets Dr. Laurie McCauley

Dr. McCauley graduated in 1992 from Colorado State SVM. After six years in general practice, she became a pioneer in the field of Veterinary Rehabilitation, designing the first underwater treadmill for dogs.  Dr. McCauley started the first Veterinary Rehabilitation Clinic in 1998, TOPS Veterinary Rehabilitation, and was on faculty at Canine Rehabilitation Institute for 14 years.  She is certified in Acupuncture and Chiropractic therapy and in 2014 became Board Certified in Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.  Dr. McCauley is an international lecturer and contributing author in many textbooks and journals.  She was awarded the 2011 Iams AARV Award of Excellence in the Field of Rehabilitation and the 2015 AHVMA Holistic Practitioner of the Year Award. In 2017 Dr. McCauley opened Red Tail Rehab mobile practice in North Carolina and in 2020 created Optimum Pet Vitality, an online learning platform. Her first two courses include Optimum Laser Therapy, a 19 hr. RACE approved course to teach professionals to use any laser to its optimal potential, and Optimum Geriatric Exercise, a 15 hr. RACE approved course for professionals to teach everything they need to know to prescribe, perform, teach, and progress 24 exercises for geriatric and other patients, from puppy to athlete.

Dr McCauley kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?
I think there is a huge opportunity for improvement in how many people, pet parents and veterinary professionals alike, treat dogs with osteoarthritis and education is the key. The old adage of R & R, Rest and Rimadyl, does not cut it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, decreasing inflammation and eliminating pain is a key part of how we can help our pets, but there is so much more that we can do to help these pets and there is great science to back it up.

How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?
I see people willing and able to have fun doing exercises with their pets knowing that by strengthening the muscles that surround the joints they can increase stability, decrease pain and inflammation, and strengthen the pet-parent bond. I see manual therapy, acupuncture and herbs becoming more popular as more veterinarians become certified in these areas of study. I see pet parents using chondroprotectents like green lipped mussel, collagen, MSM and many others with their pets as well as using disease modifying osteoarthritic agents (DMOAs) like Adequan which works synergistically with the chondroprotectents. I see pet parents using ice packs on sore joints when they are inflamed and heat packs when they are stiff. I see 50% of pet households having PEMF devices that can be used to treat arthritic pets (and for many other ailments), 20-25% of pet households having lasers and the knowledge to use them safely and effectively.  I would like to see NSAIDs used to control flair ups rather than as a daily occurrence, and I see newer periodic treatments becoming more mainstream. These would include shockwave, standard joint injections (hyaluronic acid +/- steroids) regenerative medicine (PRP, stem cell), and radioactive therapies.

What do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?
Education for understanding when there is pain, but also and maybe more importantly, understanding how to prevent pain, especially since the easiest path to prevent that pain is movement and exercise. I would also like to see people prevent the osteoarthritis and that is done by identifying areas of laxity or weakness and strengthening these to prevent or slow down the inflammatory process that leads to the boney changes we call osteoarthritis.

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?
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise, and staying lean.  People forget that some inflammatory factors are produced in the fat, meaning the more fat your pet has, the more inflammation.  Inflammation congregates or intensifies in areas that already have inflammation, often to places where there is already arthritis.  Exercise is such an important factor in staying lean -80% exercise 20% calories. If you just cut calories, you will lose muscle and fat creating more instability which leads to added inflammation at the joints. Also (OK, I can’t stop at just one), use treatment modalities that have no side effects before those that do. Educate yourself on what you can do to prevent or treat OA as our pet population is living longer and suffering with a disease that we can modify or control.