CAM blogs

CAM Meets Jo Godfrey

Jo Godfrey RVN

Jo Godfrey qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse 16 years ago. She holds a certificate in Nutrition, which is one of her passions in Veterinary care. Jo is Head Nurse at Drake Vets and Team Lead for the Plymouth branch of StreetVet, a national Charity set up to specifically offer free of charge vet care to the animals of the homeless and nearly-homeless. This work means the world to Jo and she is  grateful for the support of the wonderful team of volunteers who keep it going!
In October 2019, Jo was  honoured to receive the StreetVet Volunteer of the Year Award. When not Veterinary Nursing or StreetVetting, Jo lives on the edge of Dartmoor with her husband, her pre-teen daughter and baby son, her four cats and a Sprollie called BeanDog.


Jo kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

The StreetVet team I manage, see their fair share of arthritic dogs during outreach.  A lot of these dogs are sleeping out in all conditions, on cold, solid ground and eating (especially before we meet the owners) an unbalanced diet. We recognise how weight issues play a massive role in their risk of developing and progression of, this disease.

I am very proud to say that StreetVet Plymouth has a wealth of experience amongst the team of volunteers, covering a diverse range of specialist skills. For example, StreetNurse Kirsty, offers Myotherapy to dogs as part of a multimodal approach, which really benefits our arthritic patients and in turn their owners. The team manage canine osteoarthritis using different therapy techniques, they offer regular assessments and outreach to owners and pets, twice weekly, a consistent and balanced diet, warm and waterproof dog coats, dog beds, NSAIDs and complementary nutritional supplements. A lot of what we are able to provide is donated either by drug companies or via our Amazon wishlist.


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

I am a Veterinary Nurse who is passionate about Nutrition and feel very strongly that this has a massive role to play in managing any disease. Feeding the correct nutrition gives the animal’s body the right armour to protect itself from the threat of disease and slows down deterioration. My own dog suffers from Juvenile Nutritional Deficiency Arthritis, a result of being starved as a puppy and young dog so I see firsthand how important nutrition is from a young age and the impact it can have if not done correctly. Weight loss in overweight animals is important and various therapies, to encourage blood flow and white cell stimulation to reduce inflammation, offer wonderful relief from the symptoms of pain and therefore hugely impact on the quality of life. I am very proud of the fact that StreetVet can offer  healthy, balanced diets to dogs who are sleeping rough with their owners.


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

I hope that client education will improve over the next ten years and this will be a huge benefit to the patients affected by arthritis. I think there is still an attitude of acceptance when an older dog starts slowing down and not enjoying their walks, or a cat, who can no longer jump up onto the bed. People seem to just dismiss this change in behaviour as an old age thing whereas, actually that animal could benefit greatly from some pain relief and maybe offering a food to support ageing joints. I think this, in turn, will expand the options open to owners in terms of myotherapy, acupuncture, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for example, as veterinary surgeons will get more used to recommending these therapies to clients whose pets have been diagnosed with these conditions. I have found that our StreetVet clients notice these minor changes a lot quicker as they are with their pet all day every day, and so any changes in behaviour are immediately recognised and reported. We are then able to help at an early stage with supportive nutrition, supplements and therapies, which is great!


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?

For me, it is to ensure that the pet isn’t overweight as this puts so much more strain on the joints and stops the therapies working as well. Get the food right and correctly balanced – stop giving treats and mixing diets. Then start supportive therapies as soon as possible as this reduces the speed at which this disease progresses at, giving you and your pet a better quality of life together for longer. Sorry, I think that is two…!