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CAM Meets Kathryn Patel

Kathryn kindly agreed to answer the following questions…CAM Meets Kathryn Patel

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

I think canine arthritis is still regarded as a disease of old dogs which we can’t do a lot about. I don’t think that is true at all – with conformational and degenerative diseases causing joint problems early and throughout life in our canine patients I suspect a great deal of osteoarthritis goes undiagnosed in younger dogs. Often, I worry that vets regard it as an unrewarding condition to treat because signs tend to progress, but I’m passionate about changing how we think about arthritis to see it as a dynamic disease. We don’t diagnose a patient with diabetes and start them on a medication protocol we expect to be appropriate for the rest of their lives – we see them back frequently until they are clinically stable, and then through regular rechecks and owner education we monitor closely for any change and adjust treatment according to the individual’s needs. I’d like to see clinical approach to canine arthritis align with this, too, rather than an expectation that analgesia is ‘all we can do’.

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

Engage with and educate owners. There are so many ways we can intervene for arthritic patients – through weight management, exercise/environmental modification, physiotherapy if appropriate, as well as pain relief medication – that the conversation has to continue beyond the vet consult and prescription of a medication (which owners may not comply with due to concerns about side effects, cost, practicality, or limited response). I believe owners of patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis need our support to adapt their pet’s lifestyle and their own to maximise what they can do with their furry friend and should have a regular touch point to ask questions and advice of the veterinary team. There are lots of little things – like what type of bed is best, or how to prepare for a planned long walk or visit of a friend with a bouncy puppy – that might feel too small to book a vet appointment for. It’s up to us to invite our clients to talk to us about these concerns so we can make sure they have access to the best information. The practice team and owner are partners in managing each pet’s condition, and both need to regularly update the other on how it’s going.

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

I think the release of a monoclonal antibody therapy is exciting, as it’s got fewer risks associated than more traditional painkillers, and I’ve seen very promising results in my patients so far. I would like to see more medications of this type become available. I’d also like to see more nurse and paraprofessional input into the care of arthritic patients so we consider the whole patient’s welfare and not just how we can treat joint pain.

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?

Your vet is the expert on your dog’s condition, but you are the expert on your dog. Like all chronic conditions, there are good times and bad times. Keep communicating with your practice team about where your dog is at and what they can do, and work with them to get the best results. Be ready to change the plan!


Kathryn Patel CertAVP(G-SAS) PGCertVBM MRCVS has been a small animal vet since 2012, completing post-graduate certificates in small animal surgery in 2017 and veterinary business management in 2022. Her clinical interests are orthopaedics and joint disease, anaesthesia and analgesia, and quality improvement. Kathryn currently works for CVS as a Hub Clinical Lead, which involves using her passion for patient care to help vets across several practices, develop their clinical practice in areas that interest them. Kathryn is also the lead on the CVS lameness project, which aims to improve care of lame cats and dogs across their whole small animal division.