What Works & How To Introduce It
What works for one dog, may well be ineffective for another. Get advice from your vet before spending money on a product.
Canine osteoarthritis is not one single disease. Every dog is different. A 1 year old Golden Retriever with bilateral mild elbow dysplasia with secondary arthritis is very different to a 10 year old overweight Pug with severe hip dysplasia and secondary arthritis, in addition to spondylosis of the spine and lumbosacral stenosis.
Considering that there is a wide range of clinical presentations of arthritis, hopefully it will become clear that advising whether something will work or not or not for all cases is impossible.
What works well for one dog may be ineffective for another. What CAM aims to do is equip you with enough information so that you can make the right decisions for your dog and their disease.
Many available interventions have little evidence of being beneficial. This is a huge hindrance to advising you effectively, however it is unlikely to change any time soon. Quite often readily available products have absolutely no evidence of benefit, while others will suggest benefit based on weak trials performed a long time ago, commonly on a different species, or an induced model of arthritis. Some market themselves on studies that were performed in a lab petri dish, so bear little resemblance to the real life arthritis that you are trying to manage. And some simply suggest benefits based on anecdotes, theoretical belief, or unscientific suggestions.
purchasing a product
It is a minefield out there and one that is hard to guide you through. However, here are some top tips to bear in mind when considering purchasing a product:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- If it suggests that it can cure or prevent arthritis then avoid it, as both of these are currently impossible.
- If you would struggle to afford it, then hold fire and check in with your vet or therapist as expensive does not mean effective!
- Be wary of well-marketed social media ad products and those that tie you into subscriptions. Instead approach your vet or therapist for their recommended products.
- Always check regarding the safety of a product. Combining different supplements and medications can lead to adverse events, so obtain vet advice if in doubt.
- Read, read, read! CAM was created by a vet who wanted owners to make wise decisions for their best friends, and not fall into lucrative product-promise traps.
- If you would like to introduce a new intervention, be objective. Get baseline data prior to starting use, and then monitor over the trial period. Arthritis naturally waxes and wanes so you are looking for improvement over the long term, not the short term. Short term improvement may well be due to your dog having a simple acute deterioration, which is always going to get better with the passing of time. The addition of a new therapy just happened to coincide with the improvement, but was always going to get better after. Your addition of a new therapy is just coincidence.
- Join Holly’s Army Facebook page, a vet-led owner forum. This forum has many wise owners who have been there, and will be able to advise you. We work hard to ensure members understand the difference between an anecdotal story and evidence, to ensure the advice they contribute is balanced and not sensationalism.