Veterinary Physiotherapists are able to assess and subsequently treat animals that have musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. NAVP (National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists) was formed back in 1985 to promote the professional practice of veterinary physiotherapy. Working alongside pet owners but also vets. We aim to ensure the highest standards of veterinary physiotherapy care and will be delivered by linking a strong foundation of scientific knowledge with clinical practice and continued research. Here, we discuss the benefits to vets of working as a NAVP member.
All NAVP members either hold a BSc or PgD/ MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy degree. This can reassure vets that all NAVP members are highly qualified and specialised in this field of study.
Skills and Knowledge
Veterinary Physiotherapy degrees cover both equine and canine species. In some cases, they will also work on bovine, allowing them to work on farm animals. With theory and practical exams that are robust, a final exam has to be passed before any qualification is given. All exams and assignments also have to be passed before a degree is awarded, which is no mean feat.
Scientific knowledge and evidence-based knowledge are combined by NAVP in order to come to an accurate diagnosis and create a bespoke treatment plan.
All NAVP members are part of a professional association and as such have a specific code of conduct, the scope of practice, CPD and complaints procedure.
NAVP members work as part of a multi-disciplinary team with the vet as the primary healthcare professional
A lot of NAVP members are self-employed and as a result, have a strong drive and enthusiasm in how they approach business. This is a great quality when working closely with veterinary surgeons. They must be flexible and practical, adapting to new situations and scenarios.
Patience is also a key quality in veterinary physiotherapists that vets can benefit from. NAVP members are required to be observant, persistent, and analytical in their work. They have a genuine interest in the animals they work with and have the animals' welfare at the forefront of their work.
NAVP members are typically flexible due to the nature of their work. Some will offer weekend appointments or are on call for emergency cases.
Benefits when using a NAVP member
There are many benefits for veterinary surgeons to working with a NAVP. The combined knowledge can help create an accurate diagnosis and perfect treatment plan to help improve the chances of the animal's recovery. If you are a veterinary surgeon that wants to work with a qualified veterinary physiotherapist, in particular a NAVP member, then please get in touch and discover a NAVP member local to you.
Having a dog with arthritic conditions can be upsetting and challenging for owners. Whilst it is important to receive specific advice from your veterinary physiotherapist, especially when it comes to exercise treatments, dietary plans and any medicinal treatments or surgical plans, there are some ways you can help a dog with arthritis at home.
Turn on the TV or radio when you are not home
This is a simple thing to do but can be beneficial to dogs that have severe mobility issues. Turning on the TV or radio to something peaceful can help drown out other noises such as children playing upstairs, or post getting delivered, which can cause your dog to automatically spring into action and potentially injure themselves. The last thing you want is for them to accidentally cause damage or injury to themselves or be in pain, especially when they are alone or unsupervised.
Incorporate certain foods into their diets
Oily fish and sweet potato are just two foods that are sometimes recommended for dogs with arthritis. Studies have shown that oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel can decrease inflammation that is associated with arthritis in dogs. Make sure you choose plain fish as opposed to those based in a tomato or spicy sauce as these can be harmful or toxic to dogs.
Sweet potato is a food that many dogs find easy to digest and can help provide them with a beta carotene boost which has also been proven to reduce arthritic inflammation. Again, serve this plain as opposed to in butter or milk.
Whilst these foods can be good for your dog, it is imperative that you discuss with your vet before you introduce any new foods into your dog’s diet. They will be able to confirm whether this is a good idea or not, as well as let you know what portions and frequency you should be feeding them.
Go for walks for some relief
Whilst a dog with severe arthritis will naturally be more sedentary, it is important to continue to walk them every day, even if it is not the same pace or distance they used to do. Try to keep your dog moving constantly throughout the walk and try to aim for 20 minutes per day (ideally two 20-minute walks per day). Try and avoid your dog stopping to sniff all the time as stopping and starting is something you don’t want to happen. Start with five minutes of slow walking to help your dog build its pace. Spend 10 minutes walking quicker, then use the final five minutes as a cool down where you reduce the speed back down.
Avoid mobility commands where possible
Whilst you will sometimes still have to use mobility commands, try to avoid them where possible. Using commands to get them to “sit” or “lay down” in exchange for a treat can potentially make them uncomfortable or cause them pain. Instead, you can exchange treats for a kiss or hug, or hide them around the home in places where your dog won't have to exert themselves to reach.
Massage therapy is a common method for coping with arthritis and, whilst it is advised to go to a specialist for a more intense massage, there are some easy to learn techniques that you can apply at home. Massage can help get your dog’s blood flowing to the arthritic areas and can help to temporarily reduce the pain and stiffness, sometimes for several hours.
Apply a heat pad
Massage therapy can be used in conjunction with heat therapy. Apply a dog friendly heat pad onto your dog’s arthritic areas. Make sure you supervise your dog whilst the heating pad is on them and don’t leave them unattended with the heat pad on.
Keep your dog's nails trimmed
If your dog has nails that are too long, they can annoy them and cause them to walk differently which can lead to them distributing their weight in a way that aggravates their arthritis. This is commonly done by a groomer or a veterinarian, but you can also do this at home yourself with a pair of pet-safe nail clippers.
Consider their dog bed carefully
Dogs that suffer from arthritis ideally need something to cushion the joints that are hurting them most. With this in mind, you may want to consider investing in more than one dog bed and having them located in the rooms where the family spends the most time. This means your dog can comfortably spend time with its family. This is also great for houses that have hardwood floors which don’t provide any support or comfort.
You can also purchase specific orthopedic dog beds. Whilst all your dog beds don’t need to be orthopedic, you may want to invest in one for their main bed as they can make a big difference to the dog’s stiffness and overall mobility. Make sure you do sufficient research before buying to ensure you are purchasing one that best suits your dog's needs.
Buy rugs if you have hardwood flooring
If you have hardwood flooring, then make sure you have areas with rugs on the floor to help provide your dog with some much needed cushioning. Use rug grips or specific carpet tape to make sure the rugs are secure as it will help to stop your dog from tripping on them or sliding.
Consider indoor pee solutions
Many dogs that suffer from arthritis end up having bladder issues. It can be difficult for them to keep going outside to go to the toilet, so you may want to consider some indoor alternatives. Pee blankets or pee turf can both be purchased for this purpose and may be something you want to do additional research into.
We thoroughly believe that prevention is the best cure, and one way to prevent your dog from injuring themselves further is to install gates around your home, particularly on the stairs. Having a gate installed will prevent your dog from needlessly climbing the stairs or jumping on the sofa and putting additional, unnecessary strain on the arthritic area. You can also install them throughout the home if there are certain rooms you don’t want your dog to enter. It can be an effective way to reduce the risk of further injuries or damage.
Use pet steps or a ramp
You can purchase a small set of steps or a ramp that is specifically designed for dogs with mobility issues and can be used to help them to get in and out of the car, on and off the bed or sofa, or up any big steps. You can purchase foldable steps which are practical as they don’t take up much space.
Medicines and supplements
There are many medicines and supplements that can be taken in order to help your dog’s arthritis and, whilst these will be administered at home, we are not going to go into detail in this article about which medicines are available. You should discuss any medications with your vet and veterinary therapist as each patient is unique and will therefore need a unique treatment plan to suit.
Whilst these in isolation may not help you see the desired results, combining them along with the medical advice given by your veterinary physiotherapist can ensure your dog is as comfortable as possible at home.
Dorsal Spinous Process Impingement (DSPI), also referred to as Kissing Spine Syndrome, is a condition that is unfortunately common in the equine world. It involves the horse’s vertebrae rubbing together, causing a lot of pain, swelling, and discomfort. Here, we are providing a more detailed overview of Kissing Spine Syndrome in horses.
What are the symptoms of Kissing Spines?
Kissing Spine Syndrome is often a cause of poor performance or abnormality in a horse’s gait. Unfortunately, the condition is often not detected until a significant impact on performance is spotted which is not ideal when trying to treat the condition and there is still a lot left to learn about the condition. The condition can affect any horse whether it competes at a high level or is a general all-rounder. It can also be seen in ponies.
Kissing spines can be caused by direct trauma to the back – such as rearing over backwards or a heavy fall onto one side. Poor saddle fit, foot pain and poor rider ability can all lead to a compromised posture which in turn may cause inflammation and pain in the back. Importantly there are often other problems going on which begin to cause the poor spinal posture which leads to Kissing Spines ie. hindlimb and pelvic issues or cervical muscle and joint pain. Kissing spines is rarely a stand-alone condition and your vet and veterinary physiotherapist will take a thorough case history and detailed assessment in order to tailor any rehabilitation programme to the individual horses needs.
In addition to gait issues and an overall decline in performance, kissing spines can be accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
Once these symptoms have been identified, further examinations and observations will have to take place to receive an accurate diagnosis. There have been recent advances in this area that allows imaging procedures like ultrasounds and radiographs to allow strong visualisation of the bone structure and can help identify lesions that previously were difficult or impossible to see. Nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans) and a thorough manual assessment can also be used to reveal the extent of the damage caused by this condition to the soft tissues.
There are different grades of severity when it comes to kissing spine syndrome which can usually be identified through radiographs.
As with most conditions, there is not a one size fits all option when it comes to the treatment of kissing spine syndrome. It is important for horse owners to understand that the condition is not felt equally among all horses. Some horses with lesions may suffer from extreme pain which can severely impact their performance, whilst other horses may be able to tolerate the lesions and you may not see much difference in their performance or ability.
Each horse is different, and the approach to treatment will also be different depending on the nature of the horse as well as the grade and severity of the lesions.
Corticosteroid injections are sometimes administered around the lesions. This is often combined with a course of physiotherapy as well as periods of rest. After the rehabilitation period, the horse will be reassessed to see how its performance is.
Acupuncture, mesotherapy, physiotherapy, and shockwave therapy have also been used and, in some cases, been proven to be successful treatments for the condition.
For many horses, the best treatment option is surgery. The procedure usually involves an incision at the top of the spinal processes and a couple of inches of bone is removed. The space left after the bone removal will be filled with fibrous tissue over time. It is important to note that the surgery route and success will depend on the rehabilitation and recovery programme put in place, tailored to that horse.
If you notice that your horse appears to be in pain, or has a violent response to saddling, brushing, or mounting, or if your horse seems to be struggling with exercises or movement, it is important you contact an equine specialist. Whilst the condition may be due to something else, the most common cause of back pain in horses is kissing spine syndrome and, if your horse does indeed have it, your equine vet and veterinary physiotherapist will be able to assess the severity of the condition and will be able to put a comprehensive treatment plan in place.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis found in dogs and is unfortunately extremely common. OA is a chronic joint disease that involves the loss of joint cartilage or new bone formation around the joint (also known as osteophytosis). This condition can be extremely debilitating for the dog and can be a painful condition which in some severe cases leads to limb disfunction. In this article, we give an overview of Canine Osteoarthritis. We explain in more detail what it is, what are the symptoms, and what treatments are available.
What is Canine Osteoarthritis?
OA is commonly a secondary condition that is in part caused by another condition such as cranial cruciate ligament disease, hip dysplasia, or elbow dysplasia to name just a few.
However, it is not always the case that OA is a result of another condition. In some cases, there is no obvious cause of OA apart from being the result of genetics, age, or other contributing factors such as the weight of the dog, the gender, the breed, the amount of exercise they get as well as their diet.
What are the signs and symptoms?
As it is such a common condition, dog owners want to understand the signs of symptoms of OA so that they can recognise the condition as early as possible. The main symptoms can include:
How is OA diagnosed?
Several factors contribute towards the official diagnosis of Canine OA. It is usually based on a combination of the dog’s history in addition to a physical examination.
The physical examination will be an opportunity to look at how the dog’s joints are affected. They will be looked at to see if the dog is showing any signs of pain in response to the joint movement.
CT and MRI scans are commonly used as a diagnostic tool. MRIs can provide information about the structure of soft tissue such as the ligaments whilst CT scans are good for assessing any changes to the bone structure of the joints. This information is vital in understanding the problem areas.
Xray's can also be recommended to see which joints are affected and to what degree and help rule out any other conditions that it could be that cause similar symptoms.
What treatment is available for OA?
Whilst there is no cure for Canine osteoarthritis, there are several different approaches available when it comes to treating and coping with the symptoms of OA. This depends on the dog in question as to which method will potentially be most effective.
Controlling with the weight of the dog is a vital part of the treatment. As we discussed earlier in the article, some OA is a direct cause of the dog being overweight. The increased weight is added increased pressure and strain on the joints which can lead to them being in severe pain. Even if their weight wasn’t the cause of the problem, owners need to ensure their dog stays at a healthy weight to try and not make the pain any worse. Ideally, owners should be able to feel their dog’s ribs but not see them and from a bird’s eye view, their dog’s figure should be an hourglass figure.
Several forms of rehabilitation can be used solo or in combination, to improve joint mobility and increase muscle mass. This includes hydrotherapy (swimming or the use of an underwater treadmill), acupuncture, or laser therapy.
The type of exercise the dog is used to undertaking may need to be amended to stop their condition from worsening. If they are used to doing high-impact activities such as jumping or running, these may have to be limited as they can lead to inflammation of the joints and lead to a lot of pain. Instead of these intense exercises, low impact exercises that are more controlled such as lead walks can help build up muscle strength and stability.
Pain medication and supplements
NSAIDs- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as meloxicam, ketoprofen, etc are most commonly used when it comes to pain control of OA. Supplements may also be recommended by the veterinarian, depending on the patient. Omega 3 fatty acids or glucosamine sulfate are two common types that are often prescribed and may help alleviate OA pain in the joints. The role of supplements is to improve the function of the joints, reduce inflammation and help slow the progression of the joint damage over time. These medications not only promote healing, they can help increase water retention in the cartilage, which can help provide the joint with more cushioning.
In some extreme cases, surgery may be the best treatment option. The surgery needed can vary from treatment for ligament rupture, or total joint replacement surgery which most commonly involves the hips or elbows for canine patients.
No matter what method of treatment is used, there will inevitably be a level of aftercare that owners need to be prepared for. OA is a progressive disease, so the main focus of the treatment methods above is to help the dog live comfortably for many years to come. These treatments will not make the condition disappear, but when administered correctly and treatment plans strictly adhered to, the treatments can be extremely effective at slowing down the speed at which OA progresses over time.
Whilst canine Osteoarthritis is a common problem in dogs, it is never a pleasant condition to wish on any dog due to its painful and progressive nature. Whilst it is a painful condition, it is one that can be managed. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms described, it is important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the condition and work together with the owner and veterinarian physiotherapists to formulate the best possible care plan.
Dogs are notorious for being reluctant to show pain. This natural instinct can make it incredibly frustrating for dog owners as they may not be aware of how much pain their dog is in or that they are in any pain at all. However, if you study your dog’s body language carefully, over time you will be able to identify subtle signs of pain which will make it easier to manage, treat and hopefully prevent it in the future. In this article, we will discuss how owners can learn more about whether their dog is in pain as well as some canine pain management strategies to hopefully help relieve your dog’s discomfort.
How do dogs feel pain
Due to their survival instinct to try not to show pain, it used to be believed that dogs did not experience pain in the same way humans did. However, in recent years, veterinarians have made huge improvements in the understanding of how dogs feel pain. Studies have shown that although dogs do not show pain as easily, they actually have similar nervous systems to humans and this knowledge has allowed us to implement new canine pain management strategies.
Pain is defined as a “highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury” and varies significantly depending on the specific injury, condition as well as the individual. As pain is very subjective, it can be difficult to measure, especially as dogs instinctively hide their pain to prevent being seen as weak and vulnerable by predators. Whilst it is challenging to know when a dog is in pain, there are some signs that owners can look for.
Common signs of pain in dogs can be:
Spotting the signs is crucial for canine pain management. Whilst these can all be signs of pain, it is important to note that they are not exclusive to dogs experiencing pain. There can be other reasons why they are showing these symptoms.
Canine pain management strategies
Once it has been established that a dog is in pain, they will need to have a pain management strategy in place. If your dog is undergoing any surgery or dental procedure, feel free to ask what pain management your vet is using as the options are varied.
In general, medication of some form will be given to the dog before, during, and after any surgery to help with pain relief. Many types of drugs can be used to prevent or reduce canine pain and your vet will choose the appropriate drugs based specifically on your dog’s needs and condition.
NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
This type of drug is used to treat mild to moderate pain and discomfort and work by interfering with the production of inflammatory molecules that trigger swelling and pain. These drugs are powerful and therefore must be used with caution as they can have potential side effects on organs such as the liver, kidneys, and stomach.
Opioids are often used in more severe cases of pain, for example, if a dog is suffering from severe arthritis or cancer. This group of medications includes morphine, codeine, and hydromorphone and are used on selective cases only to try and reduce discomfort and maintain a good quality of life for a dog that suffers from chronic pain.
Depending on the cause of the pain, one pain management strategy could be therapeutic exercises or treatments. For example, dogs with osteoarthritis or similar conditions may benefit greatly from treatments such as laser therapy or hydrotherapy. Establishing a course of treatment is something your veterinary physiotherapist will be able to create as dogs can experience the best benefits when this treatment and exercises are sustained. Acupuncture and massage can also be used to offer pain relief, however, this tends to only provide short-term relief.
Whilst it can be a challenge for owners to reduce their dog’s weight, studies have shown that lameness can be decreased when dogs lose weight. It is important to note that this method of pain management truly depends on what condition the dog is suffering from. For example, a dog with osteoarthritis may benefit from this method.
Untreated pain is something no human or pet should ever have to experience. Whilst it can be challenging to spot if your dog is in pain, once you notice any subtle sign, you must visit your vet. The earlier these signs are caught, the higher the chance your vet will be able to come up with a successful canine pain management strategy to stop the pain or reduce your dog’s pain as much as possible.
The National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists was formed back in 1985. NAVP aims to promote the professional practice of veterinary physiotherapy. Working alongside veterinary surgeons, the organisation has been able to grow substantially. NAVP aims to ensure that the highest standards of veterinary physiotherapy care will be delivered to animals. This is done by linking a strong foundation of scientific knowledge with clinical practice and continued research. NAVP is widely recognised in the industry for its pivotal role in developing the first direct entry routes for veterinary physiotherapy training; both at postgraduate and also now undergraduate level. There are various benefits of being a NAVP member, here we will discuss them.
Veterinary physiotherapy, like all other professions, is subject to strict codes of conduct, enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations. Being a member of a professional association shows veterinarians and owners alike that:
Who are NAVP members?
The NAVP membership comprises only of graduates from accredited University BSc and PgD/ MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy degree courses. This allows vets and owners to know that any Veterinary Physiotherapist (VP) who is a NAVP member has successfully passed a VP degree. It makes members “stand out” from other VP associations that don’t necessarily have this as a requirement.
Full Benefits Of Being An NAVP Member:
What is the Eligibility?
NAVP full membership costs £130 per year and is open to any graduates from Veterinary Physiotherapy University validated degree courses:
We promote excellence in veterinary physiotherapy with the primary aim being the welfare of the animal in our care.
The NAVP is a group of people in the same profession with a shared vision and goal. Members share a common commitment and motivation.
The real learning begins once you qualify.
From the day you qualify and become a member of the NAVP you have support, guidance, and help with any question or problem.
NAVP helps new graduates understand the profession and the rules which govern us as veterinary physiotherapists.
The main purpose of a professional association is to help, support, and inform its members. It seeks to further the profession and the interests of its members.
The professional body looks after its members and deals with any complaints made against a member by an owner/vet. They will only refer on to the Register for any complaints which are too serious to deal with on an internal basis.
So, If you are a veterinary physiotherapist or currently studying in the field, we would love to hear from you and discuss becoming a NAVP member. Together, we can help the organisation grow even more and take it to new heights.
To learn more about how to become a member, visit Membership - National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists (navp.co.uk) Requests for membership application forms should be made to the NAVP secretary at email@example.com
Most equine injuries have some level of a preventable component. However, a lot of injury management focuses on establishing a cure rather than prevention. In order to do this successfully, a holistic 360 approach will need to be taken as keeping a horse sound and well involves much more than simply trying to avoid ridden injuries. Here we discuss further why we believe at NAVP that prevention is better than cure when it comes to equine care.
Providing a safe environment for the horse
Every aspect of the horses' lives needs to be considered to provide a safe environment. One of the best things forms of equine care is to provide them with both stability and routine as much as possible. Horses by their very nature are classed as flight animals. They can be extremely quick to react and in some cases overreact in situations that cause them stress and make them feel like they are at risk. Sudden movements mean that muscles react without conscious thought which makes muscle damage more likely. Being in these scenarios automatically brings with it a danger that they could not only injury themselves but potentially harm others as well.
Providing a routine not only helps the horse feel safe but has also been shown to significantly limit stress. The simplest observations can make a significant difference in reducing a horse’s stress levels, which has a great impact on equine care. For example, do you think your horse is happier in a stable that is close to other horses partitioned by bars? Or do they prefer space with a solid partition?
Many smaller injuries can occur in the stable, yard, or field and can often go unnoticed. Over time, these seemingly small, harmless injuries can lay the foundations for poor performance and lead to more severe injuries in the long term. This is why veterinary physiotherapists take detailed case history notes when they see a patient. This allows them to identify the possible cause of the problem they are treating which you as the owner may not be aware of allowing them to create a proper equine care routine. When a minor injury is left untreated, it can develop into something more serious which can take months to become apparent to the owner. This shows how imperative it is for owners to become attuned with their horses and try and detect these smaller issues in time.
Provide individualised care
Every person is unique and the same is the case for horses. Each horse can have unique preferences as to how they like to be managed daily. The carer of the horse must take the time to know how the horse reacts in different circumstances to find the best way of providing equine care. This will help ensure stress levels are kept to a minimum and therefore lower the likelihood of harmful behaviour.
Injuries in the field
A small slip in the field due to ground conditions or playing around is very common but can result in soft tissue damage. Most at risk in these cases are adductor and hamstring group muscles along with the lumbosacral joint area.
Here are a few things owners or riders should consider:
Injuries in the stable
When it comes to feeding, the safest and most natural way to feed a horse is from the floor with loose forage. When this isn't possible, hay nets are used and these can bring their own risks. Many owners are aware of this problem and opt for hay bars instead.
Whilst any area can be affected, the most common in these situations are the digital muscles and limb joints, the adductor muscles, the gluteal and hamstring muscles- which become involved if the horse pulls back and exerts sudden strain on their hindquarters.
Here are a few things owners or riders should consider:
Tying up is one of the areas owners have control over and a main area that the prevention is better than cure rule can be practically applied.
As veterinary physiotherapists, we see a lot of injuries and issues that are a direct result of pull-back trauma of some type. Whilst a lot of owners are aware of the damage that can be caused and does get their horse checked over, a neck injury can in fact take months to rehabilitate with the ramifications lasting potentially months if not years.
Once a horse has pulled back and caused damage to the neck and atlantal-occipital joint, any small pressure in that area will tend to panic them and cause another pullback, worsening the problem.
If the trauma occurs on a concrete standing and the horse cannot break free easily, it may exert a huge amount of pressure on the hindquarters with the possibility of slipping and causing serious damage to the hindquarters.
Here are a few equine care tips owners and riders should consider:
We at NAVP truly believe that prevention is better than cure and hopefully this equine care article has highlighted some of the ways you can help prevent equine injuries from occurring in the future. Our role is to prevent minor injuries from becoming major injuries and by following the Prevention is better than cure rule, we can keep our horses safe.
Canine Elbow dysplasia is a condition that affects many breeds, particularly young medium to large-sized dogs. Unfortunately, treatments remain relatively limited which is a concern for dog owners and breeders alike. Therefore, it is a common question to ask whether Elbow Dysplasia in dogs is genetic.
What is Elbow Dysplasia?
Elbow dysplasia is an abnormal development of the elbow joint. This results in the early development of osteoarthritis and degenerative changes. The condition is the result of a dog’s elbow joint failing to develop correctly. This prevents its components from working properly together.
Types of Elbow Dysplasia
There are three main types of elbow dysplasia conditions that dogs usually suffer from. These are:
Is canine elbow dysplasia genetic?
To put it short, yes. The tendency towards elbow dysplasia is usually passed down from a dog’s parents.
What dog breeds are most at risk for elbow dysplasia?
Elbow dysplasia is most prevalent among certain breeds of dogs., even some of the most popular breeds such as the Labrador Retriever have high rates of the disease. Overall, elbow dysplasia is mostly found in medium and large breeds. A recent study has shown that the following breeds are more susceptible to elbow diseases (including elbow dysplasia). These are:
The gender of the dog can also have an impact. The study showed males have one a half times the risk of developing an elbow disease than females.
There are even some breeds such as the Jack Russell terrier and West Highland white terrier that the study showed to actually have reduced risk of elbow disease compared to the average crossbreed dogs.
What can breeders and owners do?
Whilst the risk of elbow dysplasia cannot be eradicated completely, there are some things that breeders can do to help limit the risk. Often this was done by mating together dogs that are free from the condition. Smart breeding decisions like this make it far less likely that the dog will develop dysplasia.
Although the condition is genetic to a degree, there are still environmental factors that can increase the risk of the disease which owners must be aware of. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition and dog obesity can all increase the risk of the dog developing elbow dysplasia at some point during their lifetime.
What are the early signs of canine elbow dysplasia?
Symptoms can start to show in the dog when they are relatively young at around 5 months. Therefore it is important that tests are done as soon as symptoms start to show. Undertaking a CT scan can help diagnose the condition.
The symptoms can vary but include noticing that your dog struggles to bear weight on a certain paw. Or if you notice that a paw is turning outwards more than the others. Other symptoms include walking in a stiff manner, especially after exercise, and a reluctance to exercise in the first place. Whilst there may be a myriad of other reasons why these symptoms have occurred, it is imperative that tests are undertaken in order to rule out elbow dysplasia or catch it as soon as possible.
What is the prognosis of elbow dysplasia in dogs?
Discomfort can be eased by ensuring the dog maintains a healthy weight and takes regular, short walks on a lead to avoid overexertion and worsening the condition. Try and ensure the dog doesn’t run or jump too much. Also, consider your surroundings. Adapt your home accordingly to ensure your dog remains comfortable and reduce the risk of falls.
In some cases, anti-inflammatories or painkillers can be prescribed and in certain cases. A combination of surgery or physiotherapy may be the best route to explore.
We hope we have answered the question is Elbow Dysplasia in dogs genetic. Whilst elbow dysplasia is a painful, long-term condition, the positive news is that it shouldn’t shorten the dog's life. By ensuring the dog’s discomfort is lowered through a healthy lifestyle, the dog can still enjoy a great quality of life. If you are concerned about your dog having elbow dysplasia then ensure you visit a trained veterinary professional for an early diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is extremely common in horses. The cartilage within a joint begins to break down which changes the underlying bone. As this type of arthritis is also called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, it usually develops relatively slowly and then gets worse over time and can significantly impact the horse’s range of movement. Therefore it is imperative that equine owners not only understand the symptoms of the condition but also what treatment can take place to help ease the pain. Here is our guide to managing your horse with arthritis.
Where does OA occur?
Whilst any joint in the horse’s body is at risk of being affected by OA, it is usually the hind limb and the hock joint, in particular, that is most commonly affected in equine OA cases. It completely depends on the individual horse as well as other determining factors such as their breed, their discipline and whether they have had any trauma history.
What causes arthritis?
There are many reasons why a horse may develop arthritis over its lifetime. Here are some of the main reasons:
What are early-onset signs?
Even before the visual signs start to show there are several onset signs that horse owners should be conscious of.
Unfortunately, a diagnosis in the early stages of OA is difficult. The changes caused by arthritis within the joint are subtle but can cause enough discomfort to affect movement and in some cases, as explained above, behaviour changes.
As lameness does not usually kick in until arthritis has progressed, it is natural and understandable that riders feel their horse is just being “naughty”, misbehaving or being lazy. To avoid making this mistake, a vet physio should be consulted to help identify the problem and assess what is causing the poor performance.
The vet physio will undertake a comprehensive assessment and take a detailed history to get the most accurate diagnosis possible. This diagnosis will help you understand the next steps required to managing your horse with arthritis.
The horse’s posture should also be examined. Lack of propulsion from the hindquarters which act as the engine of the horse will lead undiagnosed for too long, the compensatory issues become the most noticeable to the rider. This can be back pain and heavy in both or one rein.
The farrier will also be able to spot an indicator of arthritis. For example, there may be difficulties when showing the hindlimbs and this can often be an indicator. The horse may either snatch up the hindlimb and hold it in flex before relaxing or they may be reluctant to pick it up at all due to the pain.
The diagnosis does also depend on how soon a vet is involved. Where no obvious lameness is seen, owners will often assume there is another reason or explanation for the decline in performance and will get a therapist to come and do a maintenance treatment. Whilst this may initially help with the compensatory effects and allow the horse to resume some normal work if the underlying cause is a joint problem, the results will be limited. When no improvement is to be seen (a guideline is after 3 treatments) and all other observations are considered, the horse should be referred to the vet for further examination.
The successful treatment of OA is not down to one person alone. When managing your horse with arthritis, a collective responsibility falls on the vet, vet physio, trainer, rider and owner alike to ensure the horse remains as comfortable as possible.
Veterinary treatment for OA will depend heavily on the diagnostic results whilst also considering the level of work, age and condition of the horse. The vet has several options available to them to treat OA.
Vet Physio Support
By the time OA is affecting the horse’s work or is a noticeable lameness, it will have been present for some timer, therefore postural compensations will have occurred. Muscles will be sore and altered weight bearing will have taken place. If this is not addressed then other areas will become affected as time goes on, often leading to owners feeling that treatment for the affected joints has not worked - which is not necessarily true. The vet physio will address these muscular issues in order, once veterinary treatment has taken effect.
Vets may also ask for Laser therapy to be included in the treatment - this can be very effective provided it is introduced at the right time in the treatment programme. Together with the vet, the vet physio will work on a programme of rehabilitation and maintenance treatments which will ensure the condition can be monitored and the horse kept comfortable.
The farrier may decide to make changes to the showing of the horse to help with the condition.
A different approach may be necessary to the training/ schooling programme. When managing a horse with arthritis, an understanding of what stage the condition is in, and to what extent the joint is compromised (and therefore limiting certain joint movement) is key to helping the owner and the horse.
They may now be reduced or gone for now but the joint is still compromised. It is not “as good as new” despite the treatment being carried out. It often takes time for an owner to accept that there is a problem, which may limit what they hope to achieve with their horse but with support, good advice and their team working together, it is possible in most cases to have a horse that can return to a level of work that becomes acceptable to both horse and rider.
Managing your horse with arthritis will be dependent on the individual horse - there is no prescriptive programme that applies to every horse, although there will be some common factors – which then need to be tweaked to suit the individual.
Management will depend on:
Methods of management
Turn OutIdeally, the more they can walk around in the field and keep the joints gently mobilised the better the joints and muscles will be. But , problems will occur if the horse is overweight, plays around in the field or if you cant manage the grass (applicable in most livery yards). Where possible, make sure the field conditions are safe and will not cause more trauma to the joint. For example, playing with other horses or having deep mud in gateways can both be dangerous.
Stable ConditionsIf the horse is stabled ensure they have a good bed that is deep enough to allow the horse to rest when lying down but also to aid in them getting up and down.
RidingThe amount of riding will depend on what work you can do following an official diagnosis, the degree of arthritis and the success of the vet and vet physio treatment. Always factor in a warm-up programme, avoid small circles which will involve tight turns. Do not school daily and be aware of the surface you are working on. Intersperse riding with hacking plus 2 rest days per week for a good balance.
Pole WorkFor the younger horse with early-onset arthritis / inflamed joins and which has been medicated, poles can be useful to help with the range of joint movement. For the older horse with obvious arthritis changes - sometimes you will see they drag their feet - even if medicated, the joint is likely to be affected to a point where pole work whilst ridden would be contraindicated - for these horses in handwork using pole would be kinder and more helpful.
Supplements There are plenty on the market to help with managing your horse with arthritis, some work better than others. Be sure not to overdo supplmentation. Just like humans, overdosing with some supplements or using too many will cause a nutritional imbalance
TimeUnderstand the anatomy and the inflammatory process - your vet and vet physio will talk you through this. Medicating the joints works well but the results may not always be as instant as you think. Give it time to work and be prepared to medicate more than once- your vet will advise you on this.
Farrier advice Your farrier will be able to help with advice on possible changes in shoeing. Often helpful to the farrier of the horse can be lightly exercised before shoeing- just to help with joint flexibility before shoeing. In some cases, the farrier may lower the height of the tripod to make it easier for the horse to flex the limb when rasping and clenching up. In some severe cases where weight-bearing on the hind limbs is difficult the tripod can be lowered when dealing with the front feet.
Osteoarthritis is not a nice condition for your horse to live with, however, especially when caught early, an effective treatment plan can be put in place. There are many ways of managing your horse with arthritis but they depend on working as collaboratively as possible with your vet and vet physio. Every horse is unique and therefore will need a unique tailored recovery plan to suit your horse's needs.
Hip Dysplasia is a painful condition that causes one or even both hip joints to develop abnormally as the puppy grows. Whilst hip dysplasia is still a common problem among canines, there are some things we can do to help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia as our understanding of the condition has improved over time. In this guide to hip dysplasia in dogs, we discuss in more detail what hip dysplasia is and what dog owners should know.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
The hip is a “ball and socket” joint that usually fits closely together in order to enable easy movement. Hip dysplasia occurs when this hip joint doesn’t fit together properly and can cause pain, swelling, and even arthritis over time. The ball (the head of the femur, or thighbone) and the socket in the pelvis, also known as the acetabulum, need to grow at equal rates. It is when this is not the case when the deformity occurs.
Puppies are not born with hip dysplasia. Whilst the condition can occur relatively young, puppies are in fact born with normal hips and do not have hip dysplasia at birth. This is due to the fact that when puppies are born, their hip joints are cartilage and only become bone as the puppy grows. The process begins shortly after birth if puppies are going to develop the condition and will start showing symptoms which they are about 5-6 months old.
Whilst there are no exact rules, the condition tends to be worse in medium or large-breed dogs, dogs that are overweight, and also dogs that have been over-exercised when they were young and growing.
Whilst a lot of the condition and the genetics behind what causes it still remains unknown and environmental factors are important, studies have shown that hip dysplasia is more common in some breeds than others. Whilst this indicates that the condition is in some way genetic, it is challenging for scientists to understand which genes are responsible for the development of the disorder. This is because, whilst some genes are associated with the condition, they are genes that are breed-specific. Therefore the genes that are linked to hip dysplasia are different in different breeds, making the job of scientists extremely difficult.
These challenges mean that it is unfortunately unlikely that researchers are going to discover a genetic solution to hip dysplasia that will work across breeds. Whilst genetics have an important role to play, the chance of inheriting the condition is low. Schemes are in place with reputable breeders that check for hip dysplasia before mating two dogs. This can help reduce the risk of the litter developing hip dysplasia.
What are the symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?
Several symptoms can indicate hip dysplasia. Please note that not all of these symptoms mean it is this condition therefore it is important to visit your vet for an accurate diagnosis. It is also important to note that the condition can occur extremely mildly to begin with, so they may not show any symptoms until the condition has worsened and has led to arthritis.
How is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
Your vet will go through your dog’s medical history, check for detached joints, loss of motion, or pain in the hip area. In addition to this blood tests or x rays can also help assess how serious the hip dysplasia in dogs is.
What is the treatment?
There are several types of treatments that can help improve the condition.
It is important to keep your dog’s weight under control as the extra weight can add unnecessary additional strain on the joint which can cause more pain and worsen the condition.
Whilst exercise can help keep your dogs weight under control, it can also help keep the joint moving. You must keep the exercise controlled though as over-exercise can be harmful. Start with regular, short walks and avoid jumping or chasing unless your vet advises you otherwise.
Anti-inflammatory medication or other types of pain relief may be prescribed by your vet
When hip dysplasia is severe in dogs, surgery may be the only option. There are a few options available such as a pelvic Osteotomy, femoral head osteotomy, or total hip replacement. You will need to discuss them with your vet who will be able to advise which one will best suit your dog’s condition.
Even if your dog has surgery, you will need to continue treatment throughout the dog’s life in order to keep the condition under control. These additional treatments can help control the pain, improve mobility and improve the dog’s overall quality of life.
Joint supplements- these can help slow the development of arthritis
Hydrotherapy- the use of water can be a great way to exercise the dog without having to put strain on their joints
Physiotherapy- tailored exercises and stretches can help build muscle strength and help take pressure off the hip joints.
Most dogs with hip dysplasia end up developing arthritis which can be extremely painful for the dog. If your dog’s pain is severe to the point of not being able to be controlled, then you may need to consider making the difficult decision to put them to sleep. However, your vet will be able to advise whether this is necessary or if there are alternative methods of treatment to try first.
Hip dysplasia is, unfortunately, a painful condition that requires lifelong treatment. However, by understanding the condition, knowing what the symptoms are and what forms are treatment are available, dog owners are in the best position to help monitor the condition and help ensure their dog lives a comfortable, long life.