CAM blogs

CAM Meets Kathryn Cowley

Kathryn Cowley BVSc PgC SAM MRCVS

Kathryn grew up in rural Cumbria and was delighted when she achieved her childhood ambition of being accepted into vet school. On graduation, Kathryn initially thought she would like to work in mixed practice but soon realised that small animal medicine was her passion.  Since graduating from Liverpool University in 2011 Kathryn has worked in the Northwest of England and now lives near Manchester with her fiancée, African grey parrot and crazy, hand reared cat!

Kathryn joined CAM in summer 2016 after meeting founder Hannah at a training course and being inspired by her passion for this great cause.

Kathryn kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What are your thoughts on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition?

While there is no doubt that treatment for arthritis has improved hugely in recent years I think there is still along way to go. There are a huge number of options available for treatment which is great but I can see that it would be confusing for some owners, and some vets for that matter! One of the big problems I see is that owners simply don’t recognise the signs of arthritis in their pets until the disease is already quite advanced and their dog has potentially been suffering from pain for some time. Once the condition has been recognised, I feel the approach used by a lot of vets, nurses and owners is not multi-modal enough in nature. A lot of dogs are given a bottle of pain relief and expected to otherwise carry on as normal which for many patients is simply not possible and not enough. There needs to be better awareness of additional therapies that can be used, simple home adaptations that can be put into place and ways of monitoring pain at home that mean early sings of increased pain levels are not missed.

What do you feel is essential for managing arthritis successfully?

I think a good, open and honest relationship between the veterinary team and owner is essential. As vets we need to know if your dog wont take their medications, if they have days where they aren’t coping and if you wish you could do more. If we have advised your dog loose weight, exercise less or try physical therapies we need to know if you’re doing this or not as if your dog isn’t improving we need to work out why. I think as owners, knowing what to expect and having a clear plan of action for their pet is important.

Generally I think an understanding that quality of life is the most important thing is essential. I want to make sure you and your dog are motivated, happy and still enjoying your time together. We need to work as a team to do what’s best for you and your dog!

How do you see treatment options progressing over the next 10 years?

If a greater percentage of dogs with arthritis are on any form of treatment in 10 years time I’d be happy!

I hope to see further research and evidence for use of some treatments which are currently not well proven or well developed. We are seeing new options become available all the time. Stem cell therapy for example is something which has a lot of promise but I think more research needs to be done. Treatment options like this are currently not that widely available either so I would hope to see expansion in availability of a lot of these treatment options. I’d love to see a general increase in the understanding of how important a multimodal approach is to managing this disease well.

If you had chance to give one tip/piece of advice to an owner with a dog suffering from arthritis what would it be?

Please be honest with your vets about how you feel your dog is doing and don’t be afraid to ask us if there is more we can do or other avenues you can explore to help manage your dogs pain better. Remember your dog can’t come in to us on their own, they rely on you to bring them to us for help.