Canine Arthritis Management Team

Team Nominee

Canine Arthritis Management Team

Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) is an innovative educational platform which educates, supports and delivers the latest evidence based medicine for dogs who suffer chronic pain from osteoarthritis (OA). CAM believes that changing owner, vet and public perception of how to treat chronic pain in animals will lead to improved lives for animals and their owners” Today the platform has grown from a simple Facebook page to a globally recognised online advisory service.

Canine osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition that is estimated to affect four out of five older dogs, as well as a significant proportion of younger dogs. It is an emotionally and physically consuming, debilitating disease for owner and dog, often demanding a targeted multi-modal approach in order to manage the condition.

In May 2019, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Vet Compass programme recognised OA as one of the top three health-related welfare prioritisations for dogs, in fact OA had the highest annual duration and severity scores and the second highest Welfare Impact score of all disorders in the Vet Compass data collected.

The primary clinical manifestation of OA is pain as well as motor, sensory and autonomic dysfunction. It affects all breeds and ages of dogs and is multifactorial in causation and the resulting impairment in activity adversely affects quality of life. As with humans, OA in dogs is a gradually progressive degenerative disease. It is overlooked, poorly treated, mismanaged and lacks the recognition it deserves despite its profound clinical significance and prevalence. There needs to be greater awareness (within the profession and owner population), increased emphasis on its importance, clinical significance and recognition that it is the single most common cause of premature euthanasia in modern medicine. Pharmaceutical intervention controlling pain is just the beginning, what about restoring functional ability as movement disorders may have developed as a compensatory mechanism? The management of OA in dogs continues to present a challenge. There is a need to recognise the disease early—and educate the owner that intervening at the outset of clinical signs is paramount to ensure the best quality of life available through a new, socially acceptable and collaborative approach regarding awareness, education and management of chronic pain in our companion animals.

CAM is a non-profit organisation, managed by a team of expert volunteers (Vets, Vet nurses, Behaviourists, Vet Physios, Hydrotherapists) was founded in 2016 by Dr Hannah Capon after she was obliged to euthanase two old dogs that were arthritic and off their back legs. In every other way they were fine, but their chronic pain, lameness and loss of muscle mass were the cause of their elective euthanasia and the two dogs must have been feeling like that for years. She couldn’t ignore this as there are a lot of gaps in canine arthritis understanding, identification and management and more needed to be done to support owners and dogs.

Dogs with arthritis have a unique set of needs and arthritis is a huge welfare concern with many owners not knowing where to turn. They report that they struggle to gain a diagnosis and are then simply prescribed NSAID’s with little further support or information in managing such a long term chronic condition. This can result in their dog being left in pain, or in situations that only exacerbate their dogs’ diagnosis. An evidence based holistic multi-modal approach to management for the pain of arthritis in dogs and early identification is paramount to ensure the continuation of the dog and owner bond. If owners are more educated this will in turn enhance the vet and owner relationship and trust, and owners will recognise the signs of OA earlier, or take steps to slow the progression from an early stage; perhaps even pre-empt it in some cases of secondary OA, and the suffering of many animals will be reduced.

The CAM team has compiled educational materials with contributions from Key opinion Leaders in their field e.g. Vets, Pain Management Consultants, Behaviourists, and Vet Physios which are based on the latest evidence and supported using resources such as RCVS knowledge as well as the latest CPD updates. These are available through their website, social media platforms, owner education talks, CPD events and a wonderful resource for owners on Holly’s Army, a social media platform to support owners of arthritic dogs. Holly’s Army is managed by the CAM team and supported by CAM trained #Cambassadors who are all owners that have been helped by CAM, invested personally, and are now leading the way helping others – volunteering, passing on their expert experience and the high quality training and knowledge they get from bespoke training weekly. The training and development of #CAMbassador by CAM vets and advisory pain specialists continues to contribute to CAM’s valuable resource by teaching new members useful and reliable information about OA on the Holly’s Army platform as well as being available to support and guide new members They are all continually moving forward as some have now joined the team in other roles.

By developing these tools, CAM feels they are providing a huge educational platform that vets and owners use together, and develop a new and innovative method of managing chronic pain by implementing a multi-modal approach in conjunction with medication. Maximum achievable mobility is not gained through reducing pain alone and reliance on the unimodal strategy of NSAIDS is no longer considered an acceptable approach. CAM’s approach is based on the exact same treatment options provided to humans managing arthritis – pain relief, home adaptations, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and a free community of support, advice and guidance.

CAM has also empowered vet nurses to start up arthritis clinics at many practices. RVNs can play a large part in encouraging and enabling owners to fully engage in the management of their pet’s OA. CAM is currently developing a certified pet professional initiative (CAMadvocate) to improve canine welfare globally. The aims of the course are to develop the canine professional’s knowledge of the disease,
understand the recognised approach to diagnosis, the structure of a multimodal management plan, an evidence-based understanding to tackle the multitude of interventions “sold” as effective for OA and create a passion for further learning and action against OA.
The impact of CAM’s multi-modal educational management regarding chronic pain from arthritis is incredible and is not only growing as many more owners join; it has changed the perceptions of many dog owners, vets, vet nurses, and animal welfare professionals from different disciplines.
There is a growing body of vets relying on CAM’s resources and in turn many are referring owners to CAM’s online resources and providing resources from CAM to help owners achieve a long term management plan, enhancing the vet and owner relationship. Up to date evidence based medicine ensures better educational understanding of chronic pain in dogs, ensuring owners know about reliable sources of online information such as this, will help them to think differently about how they would like to manage their dog’s condition and hopefully start to see themselves, their physical therapist and Vet as one team. Through a combination of advice regarding imperative lifestyle change such as home management and exercise, alongside advice regarding further therapies, and veterinary intervention, owners become the power houses of their dog’s improvement and maintenance enhancing the Vet and owner relationship.

As Canine Arthritis Management continues to grow fewer dogs will suffer silently, slowly losing the fight against chronic pain. Instead of these dogs being euthanased because they can no longer walk, they will have had their condition identified sooner and actions will be in place ensuring the disease is slowed
It would mean so much to CAM to be considered for this prestigious award. The team are passionate about canine arthritis and work will continue to spread the message to enhance the quality of life for dogs and owners. #yourdogmoreyears
Thank you

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