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

Shockwave in Canine Rehabilitation

Veterinary Shockwave Treatment in Pets

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a multidisciplinary device used in human orthopaedics, physiotherapy, sports medicine, urology as well as veterinary medicine.

Its main benefits are fast pain relief and restoring mobility. Together with being a non-surgical treatment with minimal need for painkillers makes it an ideal therapy to speed up recovery and cure various conditions causing acute or chronic pain.

Shockwave – despite its name is NOT an electric shock at all. It is a special frequency acoustic (sound) wave that carries high energy to painful areas and can be used to treat specific musculo-skeletal conditions. The energy promotes regeneration of bones, tendons and other soft tissues.

We Use Shockwave for

Treating patients with hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, tendon and ligament injuries, non- or delayed healing bone fractures, back pain, and chronic or non-healing wounds.Shockwave in Canine Rehabilitation

Just recently we have used Shockwave therapy for dissolving large bladder stones in a dog. (They use it for dissolving kidney stones in humans too.)

In fact Shockwave has been used in Human Medicine for over 25 years for non-invasive treatment for urologic and orthopedic conditions.

In this case it meant we could successfully avoid invasive surgery for our canine patient.

Treatment Protocols and Schedules

Because Shockwave treatments are loud and can be uncomfortable – the patient is sedated or under full anaesthesia.

The pain relief effects usually happen within 24 hours and we often already see improvements in our patients even after a single treatment.

Most of the time however, treatment is carried out at intervals over a specific time period.

Shockwave for musculo-skeletal injuries and conditions is always most effective when part of an overall rehabilitation treatment program.

Shockwave for Horses

Shockwave therapy is not just limited to our smaller patients. We also use it in horses for treating similar conditions.

It has been an accepted treatment modality for musculo-skeletal injuries,osteoarthritis (OA), and wound healing in horses for quite some time.

In our practice Shockwave therapy is just one option of many for the treatment of musculo-skeletal conditions in pets, horses and other farm animals.

If you want to find out whether shockwave therapy might be a suitable treatment for your pet’s painful condition – please get in touch via email.

How do we determine whether Shockwave is suitable for your Pet?

We always start with a full Rehabilitation Assessment with one of our Vets certified in Canine Rehabilitation. This includes a full musculo-skeletal exam and possible imaging of the affected area.

Veterinary Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

The Revolutionary Way to Treat Partial CCL Tears in Dogs

Discover How Partially Torn Cruciates in Dogs are Treated with Regenerative Medicine

Modern Medicine is certainly changing the ways to treat early stage cruciate (CCL) injuries in dogs but the key to avoiding surgery (if that’s what you prefer) is by identifying the small signs your dog shows that a full injury is on its way.

We see numerous – second opinions for cruciate injuries and sadly even when partial tears are diagnosed – the most common advice given to these people includes:

  • Wait until a full rupture occurs and then do surgery –
  • Go on pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs and see how it goes
  • Restrict activities and see if it heals

The chances of a successful heal however is minimal and even if it does seem to improve – it is by the development of fibrous tissue which in turn leads to arthritic changes down the track.

CCl injuries are a most common orthopaedic injury in dogs – particularly large breeds – active or ageing dogs. It is the equivalent the ACL injury in Humans.

How Can You identify Early Injury?

Limping or skipping even if intermittent can be a sign of developing cruciate injury and it’s when you see your dog do this – that you should have your vet perform a thorough knee exam.

If a partial tear is diagnosed and you want to go down the non – surgical path then you need to act quickly before more damage occurs.

We (like Dr Sherman Canapp in the video) diagnose partial tears through a musculo-skeletal exam and / or more accurately by inserting a small needle scope into the joint to determine degree of damage.

“Bentley’s” partial cruciate tear was treated with stem cells and PRP and he is now in our rehab program In a few week’s time we’ll be going back in with the fine needle scope to check healing progress.

CCL Canine Cruciate Ligament Surgery

Treatment With Regenerative Medicine (Stem Cells)

If your dog has been diagnosed with a partial CCL tear and you prefer to go down the non -surgical path then you MUST WATCH Veterinary Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialist Dr Sherman Canapp talk about this on The Pet Show (USA) with Dr Katy Nelson.

While this contains the full episode of the Pet Show – skip through the ads and other local stories to find the interview with Dr Canapp. Highly recommended for you if you have performance dogs, active dogs, senior dogs or just big goofy dogs like Bentley!

As Australia’s experts in Regenerative Medicine and VOSMA affiliate – we use these same techniques as explained in the video.

Further Reading

Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears Treated with Stem Cell and Platelet-Rich Plasma Combination Therapy in 36 Dogs: A Retrospective Study

Regenerative Medicine for Soft Tissue Injury and Osteoarthritis

Hydrotherapy for Dogs

Why Hydrotherapy – Underwater Treadmill is not for all Dogs

Underwater Treadmill or Hydrotherapy is not a complete Rehabilitation Program

We get regular enquiries from people who have been advised to book their dogs in for Underwater Treadmill therapy to assist in recovery after orthopaedic surgery or other musculo-skeletal conditions.

While aquatic therapies such as Underwater Treadmill (UWTM) or pool swimmingHydrotherapy for Dogs can be extremely beneficial as part of a rehabilitation program – they are not suitable for all musculo-skeletal conditions.

Aquatic therapy should not be seen as a standalone therapy for these cases. Instead it should be a small part of a larger rehabilitation program incorporating multiple modalities & therapies.

We’ve had dogs referred to us for UWTM that couldn’t even stand following spinal surgery – let alone walk. In these cases – UWTM therapy ALONE is not a good starting point for therapy.

Others have just had orthopaedic procedures which involve healing of delicate tissue and internal implants – in these cases – the powerful forces generated by walking through water in a Underwater Treadmill would have done more harm than good. This is because – at this stage we need to concentrate more on strengthening the stabiliser muscles rather than the locomotor muscles.

What is a Rehabilitation Program?

A rehabilitation program is one that is made up of modalities & therapies that are specifically selected based on your pet’s condition. The program may or may not initially include any aquatic therapies such as UWTM or swimming. These may be introduced at a later stage in the program.

How do I know Hydrotherapy is right for my Dog?

In the Human world – your orthopaedic surgeon or Doctor doesn’t prescribe a recovery plan. They would refer you to a Physiotherapist who creates that program for you.

In pets – it works the same way.

Our Certified Rehabilitation Veterinarians conduct a full Rehabilitation Assessment from which a tailored program is prescribed. This might include multiple modalities – specifically designed for your pet’s needs.

We encourage you to seek out a qualified professional – a Rehabilitation Veterinarian or an Animal Physiotherapist to assess your dog first before just booking a Hydrotherapy session in yourself with a place that has those facilities.