CAM blogs

CAM Meets Laura Francis

Laura Francis BSc (Hons) MAPDT

Laura graduated from the University of Chester in 2012 with a BSc in Animal Behaviour. She then joined the team at Behavioural Referrals Veterinary Practice and has been there for the past 6 years. She now takes the role of Head Rehabilitation Trainer working closely with clients and their dogs to overcome emotional issues, as well as working with puppies in problem prevention.

Laura is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and through them the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. She teaches on the practical weekend of the Developing Emotional Intelligence for Puppies course, as well as during the Behaviour Weekend at the University of Liverpool.

Laura has a passion for preventing pain in our companions and is due to start a MSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy this year.


 Laura kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

I feel that currently too often pain goes unnoticed, with it only being picked up once the dog is actively lame or when the dogs behaviours are causing a problem for the owner. It seems to be expected that dogs will feel pain as they get older and stiffer and this is just something to put up with. A large percentage of the dogs that we work with have their emotional problems exacerbated by underlying discomfort. Once the animals pain is sufficiently under control it allows the dog much better capacity to learn.


What do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

I think we need to take a holistic approach. We need to ensure that the dog receives sufficient analgesia, alongside physical therapies. We also should look to the dogs environment such as removing hard slippy surfaces, going up and down stairs and incessant ball throwing. Dealing appropriately the pain and discomfort increases the dogs emotional capacity resulting in a dog that is better able to learn and take in new information.


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

I hope that we will see earlier identification of physical problems, which in turn will lead to earlier treatment and a better quality of life. Education is also hugely important, which is where CAM is so brilliant! I hope for physical therapies to be used more widely, in conjunction with multi-modal analgesia.


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

Listen to your dog – they will tell you when they are uncomfortable. A subtle change of behaviour can be indicative of discomfort well before any physical changes are noted.