Stem Cell treatment for dog arthritis

Diagnosing Arthritis in Dogs

Does My Dog Have Arthritis?

Did you know one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions especially in older dogs is Osteo-arthritis?

That doesn’t mean however that every dog with mobility issues such as lameness, sore backs slow to rise, difficulty jumping into cars or walking up stairs – has arthritis.

There are many other conditions that could be contributing to these symptoms of which osteoarthritis is only one of them.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

The word “arthritis” means joint inflammation. However – not all mobility issues are related to a joint problem.

Lameness, stiffness and pain be caused by other conditions such as:

  1. A soft tissue injuryStem Cell treatment for dog arthritis
  2. Spinal disease
  3. Bone Cancer

Making any assumptions without further investigations can lead to wrong treatments and potentially make your dog worse.

How We Diagnose

We start by performing a thorough musculo-skeletal assessment. This gives us an idea of whether we’re going to recommend X-Rays, Ultrasound or a CT Scan to see the extent of the injury or disease.

  • For suspected soft tissue injuries – we use Ultrasound e.g Muscle tears, Ligament damage
  • If we think it’s a spinal issue – we will do a CT Scan e.g. Intervertbral Disc Disease, Spondylosis
  • If we’re suspicious of joint involvement we’ll do either a CT or X-Ray

Following these steps gives us the best possible chance of an accurate diagnosis. Because – without them, we’re really only guessing.

In our practice only vets with additional training in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation perform our musculo-skeletal assessments.

Trends in Diagnosing Arthritis

Unfortunately what we’re seeing is many dogs being diagnosed with arthritis without any form of imaging to support that conclusion.

These dogs come to us for second opinion because they are not improving on their prescribed medications. That’s because they have other un-diagnosed issues causing their symptoms OR the prescribed treatment program is not working for them.

We find that once we discover the real cause of these dogs’ pain and get them onto the right treatment plan, we see significant improvement in their mobility and happiness.

Arthritis Treatment Options

There are 2 parts to successfully managing osteo-arthritis in dogs once diagnosed.

  1. Pain Management
  2. Mobility management

Pain Management

A pain management program can include:

  • Medications – Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Drug free modalities – Acupuncture – Laser Therapy – Shockwave – Pulse Electromagnetic Therapy

Mobility Management

Rehabilitation therapies to include:

  • Arthritis injections – these can help in maintaining joint health and preventing further deterioration of joint cartilage
  • Hydrotherapy (Pool and Underwater Treadmill)
  • Therapeutic Exercises – joint mobilisation
  • Therapeutic Massage – Myotherapy

Things Not to Do if you think your dog has Arthritis

  1. Buy supplements and products without seeing your vet first. Although there are dozens of products on the market that claim to assist in the management of osteo-arthritis in dogs, they are not designed to be a complete treatment. You could also be wasting your money on these products if your dog has something else going on.
  2. Make assumptions that your dog has arthritis just because he or she is getting older
  3. Use human pain medications. These are NOT designed for animals and can be extremely harmful when given to your pets.

But Won’t this all cost more?

In the long term. Probably Not. We see many people wasting their money on therapies and medications that are not working for them at all. And most of these don’t come cheap. By investing in a correct diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan ensures that both you and your best mate are getting the most benefit from every dollar spent.

So – what are your thoughts?

Worth getting a diagnosis? We think so.

7 Ways we Can help your Dog with Osteoarthritis

Pet X-rays

Your Pet’s X-Rays. Why Quality Matters.

When you’re advised by your vet that your pet needs X-Rays – you’re probably not thinking about much else other than worrying about what’s going to show up on them.

That’s Understandable

So when the vet comes back into the consulting room, shows you the X-Rays and says that everything looks normal and there’s nothing to worry about, you’re relieved. Obviously some things have been ruled out by not showing up on X-Ray meaning something else is causing whatever problem your pet is experiencing OR something has been missed!

X-Rays are a really important tool in Veterinary practice as they can reveal quite a lot about your pet’s inner anatomy. However, to be useful in the diagnostic process – they do need to be what we call “diagnostic quality.”

Not all X-Rays are the same

High quality X-Rays rely on a combination of things which include:

  1. Quality of Equipment – Modern X-Ray machines take incredibly detailed images (They’re also way more expensive than their older models)
  2. X-Ray Technique by the user (Veterinarian / Technician) (Settings, Positioning, Views) and
  3. Patient Compliance (Keeping your pet still and in exactly the right position for the intended views) That’s where sedation and / or anaesthesia come in!

Unlike having X-Rays yourself – our patients don’t keep still on command while the vet disappears behind the protective screen to press the buttons. Our techniques require more “hands on” contact with the patient while at the same time keeping ourselves protected from the rays using special personal protective equipment (PPE)Pet X-rays

Wriggly patients cause blurry images which  don’t help your vet make the best decisions. As for injured patients – we can’t always position them correctly without hurting them so that’s often the reasons for “chemical restraint” aka sedation or anaesthesia.

When we take X-Rays we aim for diagnostic quality images that tell the full story. Images need to be clear, crisp and detailed so we don’t risk missing something important.

Last but not least there is – professional interpretation. Some vets are more experienced in X-Ray interpretation than others.

All these factors combined mean that there are no “Standard” X-Ray fees across the veterinary profession. Each clinic charges fees according to their own specific protocols.

It’s also why we can’t quote on X-Rays without first seeing your pet. We can’t predict what type views we need without doing an examination first.

Our Protocols

Depending on the views we need, your fees may include some type of chemical restraint such as sedation or Anaesthesia and possibly Pre- Anaesthetic blood tests. so be prepared for these additions if required.

Your Rights

You have the right to see, get a copy of your pet’s X-Rays and have them thoroughly explained to you. Thankfully – most X-Rays these days are digital so it’s easy to create disc or electronic copies.

You can also get a second opinion on X-Rays such as a Specialist’s interpretation – if you wish.

Sadly – most people never question X-Ray quality or techniques even though cheaper, low quality X-Rays can lead to all kinds of false interpretations and place your pet’s health at risk. We say this because we have seen these many times in our second opinion consultations. This is especially common in orthopaedic conditions.

Veterinary X-Rays

Diagnosing lumps in animals

The Best and Worst Ways to Diagnose Lumps

Why Testing Lumps is Important

FNA vs Biopsy

If you’ve discovered a lump on your pet – have this checked out by your vet as quickly as possible.

Don’t use a “wait and see” approach to see if it changes because – if it’s a malignant growth then every day you leave it, the greater the risk of dangerous cells spreading to other parts of the body.

You want this type of lump removed as quickly as possible.

If the lump is not dangerous (thankfully not all lumps are) then at least you have paid for peace of mind that your pet’s health is not at risk.

Testing Lumps

There are 2 ways to find out what lump we’re dealing with. These are through:

  1. Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA) and
  2. Biopsy

Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA)

Here a small sample is taken by inserting a thin needle into the centre of the lump and withdrawing some sample cells from within.

These cells are then examined under a microscope (either by your vet or sent to a laboratory) for Pathologist assessment. Provided that the sample contains the right type and number of cells (and they haven’t been damaged by their passage through the tiny needle) a diagnosis of the growth type and Grade (invasiveness) can be made.Diagnosing lumps in animals

The advantage of this method is that it is quick and easy. No sedation, anaesthetic or hospital stay is required. This procedure can be comfortable performed during the consultation.

The Downside of Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA) Sampling Method?

Results are sometimes inconclusive because the sample analysed is either not sufficient in volume or it contains cells other than the ones needed for diagnosis.

For this reason we most often recommend taking a core biopsy instead.

Core Biopsy Sampling Method

A biopsy is a surgery where a tumour or part of a tumour is surgically removed and sent off to a Pathologist for classification. Most of these can be performed under sedation and local anaesthesia however (deeper or internal) tumours will require full anaesthesia.

Because of the time it takes to prepare and examine the sample, results can take up to 10 days to arrive.

A biospy provides your vet with both a diagnosis of cell type and level of invasiveness (Grade)

This means your vet now knows how much of the surrounding tissue needs t be removed and what further diagnostics are needed (if applicable) to determine whether the cells have spread to other parts of the body.

3 Options of Lump Assessment

  1. Your Vet’s assessment of FNA sample in consultation
  2. Pathologist assessment of FNA sample at external lab and
  3. Pathologist assessment of core tissue sample

Naturally there are price differences between methods with Option 1 the cheapest and Option 3 the most expensive.

Ultimately the choice of method is up to you.

Our way of helping our clients make a decision is to ask them this. “Would you have cancer surgery based on your GP looking at your cells under a microscope or would you feel safer with a Pathologist (Specialist) opinion.”

The worst way to assess any lump is by guesswork. Concluding that a lump is harmless because of the way it looks is simply not good enough.

Neither is adopting a “wait and see if it grows any bigger” approach and then doing something about it.