CAM blogs

CAM Meets Dr Richard Meeson

Dr Richard Meeson MA, VetMB, PhD, MVetMed, DipECVS, PGCE(VetEd), FHEA, MRCVS. Richard is Head of Orthopaedics and Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Orthopaedic Surgery at Queen Mother Hospital for Animals.  He has Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Recognised Specialist status and is a European Specialist in Surgery.

Richard trained as a vet at Cambridge University Veterinary School, in addition to having completed an intercalated degree in immunology from the Department of Pathology, Cambridge. He has since undertaken an internship and ECVS residency in surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, during which he was awarded a clinical masters degree with distinction (MVetMed). Richard became a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and a board certified European Specialist in Surgery in 2012 and is a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Recognised Specialist. Richard also has a PhD in stem cell/regenerative medicine.


Dr Meeson kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

Osteoarthritis is a difficult disease to manage as one size doesn’t fit all, and the best approach can change over the years as the disease progresses and your dog gets older. I think we often get stuck looking for one solution or applying the same approach to every patient. Currently, there are no treatments that can halt or reverse the damage that develops in osteoarthritic joints and therefore we are really only managing the symptoms other than joint replacement surgery. We also have a significant problem with ‘the evidence base’. Ideally we would only use medications or follow plans with good evidence behind them. Good studies evaluating treatments for OA in dogs are not very common, and therefore we have to look elsewhere such as human studies or even just ‘common sense’ suggestions.


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

In my job I am heavily involved in surgical treatment of osteoarthritis, such as total hip replacements or key-hole procedures and we are now looking at stem cell or biological therapies. However, only minority of dogs with osteoarthritis will ultimately have joint surgery. For those that do not, it is really important to become holistic and multi-modal; by that I mean managing body weight, using appropriate supplements, maintaining joint health and the soft-tissues that support the joints with beneficial exercise plans, and using different types of anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Ultimately we want to keep these dogs happy, active and enjoying life.


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

Although I don’t think there will be a cure for osteoarthritis in the next 10 years, there are new treatment such as antibody therapies, new painkillers, and cellular therapies which may well allow us to better manage osteoarthritis and the pain it causes. Stem cell and related biological therapies may well develop into a viable alternative treatment strategy as we get to grips with these new biological therapies. I also hope that our methods to assess how well the treatments are working, such as activity monitors, specialised questionnaires etc. will become more common-place, which will also help owner and vets monitor the disease more reliably.


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?

Don’t give up. Although there isn’t currently a cure for osteoarthritis, and it may be a difficult journey with ups and down, most dogs can enjoy a happy life, but it does require flexibility – using different treatments at different life and disease stages and being persistent with the different aspects such as weight loss and good quality exercise, throughout their lives.


Queen Mother Hospital for Animals
The Royal Veterinary College
Hawkshead Lane
North Mymms
United Kingdom

+44(0)1707 666 366