CAM blogs

CAM Meets Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell BVetMed, CertVA, CertSAS, DipECVS, MRCVS, EBVS and RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery: Mike graduated from the RVC in 1997 and completed internships at Bristol and Edinburgh Universities. He has worked in the UK and Australia as a general practitioner and in the USA and Switzerland as a veterinary anaesthetist. Mike completed a surgery residency at Glasgow University in 2006 and gained his European Diploma in Small Animal Surgery in 2007. He works at the Animal Referral Centre in Auckland and is the creator of, a website offering free-access to unbiased and evidence-based veterinary orthopaedic decision aids and surgical aftercare guides.


Mike kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

There are many great minds doing amazing work on canine OA. In my opinion, it’s GPs rather than academics who need recognition and support. Local vets offering guidance on diet, lifestyle and prophylactic healthcare often find themselves under attack by social media groups. Society sometimes forgets that people become vets because they love animals. We’d make an instant giant leap forward if society recognised we’re all on the same team.


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

Ideally, we’ll see more randomised controlled trials (RCT’s). One of our current challenges is establishing beyond doubt which treatments are truly superior. I encourage owners of new puppies to get involved in lifetime monitoring schemes such as Generation Pup, Dog’s Life and the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Enrolling new puppies will help scientists understand many chronic conditions including OA.


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

A definitive diagnosis is surprisingly unusual. It would be very useful if we could develop a consistent system for logging the cause of arthritis. This would require a coordinated worldwide effort by veterinary surgeons and owners.


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?

Every ‘arthritis’ diagnosis should sound something like this: “Secondary osteoarthritis caused by x/y/z”. Although we can significantly improve quality of life, arthritis is incurable. On the other hand, the primary conditions x, y and z often have treatment options which can dramatically improve outcomes. If my dog had a diagnosis of osteoarthritis I’d want to know why. Then I’d want to know if I have effective options to treat the primary.