CAM blogs

CAM Meets Stephen Cital

Stephen Cital, RVT, SRA, LRAT, VCC, CVPP, VTS

Stephen originally started college to become a registered human nurse but did not enjoy working with humans as patients. Instead Stephen became an Registered Veterinary Technician and then obtained certification as a Surgical Research Anaesthetist through the Academy of Surgical Research, followed by the designation of a Registered Laboratory Animal Technician through the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science soon after. Most recently he became one of the first Veterinary Cannabis Counsellor Specialists in the country while continuing to educate veterinary professionals on safe and effective use of cannabis in the clinical setting. Stephen is the Executive Director for the Academy of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians and Nurses, holding a VTS credential in Research Anaesthesia.

Stephen is currently the 2020 Chair for the Committee of Veterinary Technician Specialties. He has served as the President for the Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians, Vice President for the California RVT Association and member at large for the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.


Stephen kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

I believe our current management of osteoarthritis (OA) in most GP settings is inconsistent and a hodge podge of clinically sound techniques and mere guess work of what might work. I truly believe a more effective way of managing OA starts with a systematic protocol of proven therapies, the most critical being nutrition, followed by pharmaceutical or proven animal supplement support for managing discomfort. I also feel that true management of OA in our patients isn’t fully met unless some sort of physical therapy is also utilised- whether that’s in the form of low impact exercise, massage, stretching and so on. Western medicine in general is so specific to just THE issue at hand and does not encompass a holistic approach. When an animal is debilitated by OA it also has a mental affect that can make the pet decline quicker. OA has an impact on the human animal bond, by limiting activities once enjoyed by both parties.


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

As part of the team that often spends the most time with the pet while in hospital, we are on the front lines of assessing how a patient is doing, second only to the owner. As veterinary caregivers and patient advocates it’s critical for us to speak up if we notice a positive or negative change in these OA sufferers to best impact their quality of life. When utilised and trained properly, nursing staff can help owners with quality of life matters, training owners how to assess supplements for their pet, nutritional tips and certainly teach owners easy to do at home physical rehab techniques that enforces the bond with the pet and helps keep them comfortable.


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

Having extra qualifications in the area of pain management I foresee the range of pharmaceutical and biologic drugs available to us expanding greatly. I think we will slowly move away from such a heavy reliance on NSAIDS and find just as effective supplement options or biologics to help decrease discomfort and even possibly help reverse some of the damage OA creates in joints. I also see physical rehabilitation become more mainstream and less of a “specialty” option for pet 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?

One tip I would like to give owners when it comes to supporting their furry loved one with OA is to not only remember that we should be supporting these animals’ with medicines but remember nutrition and physical modalities are critical. I would also urge owners to keep a simple diary on what seems to work and what doesn’t- also noting the emotional impact on the pet.