Episode 11: Multimodal management of canine osteoarthritis

September 9, 2020
dvm360 Staff

In this episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Dr. Michael Jaffe outlines the nonpharmaceutical measures that can—and should—be used to manage canine osteoarthritis.

Michael H. Jaffe, DVM, MS, DACVS, an associate professor of small animal surgery at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has always been fueled by the desire to ease his patients’ pain. “When we talk about treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs, it really comes down to multimodal management,” he tells Dr. Adam Christman in the latest episode of The Vet Blast Podcast. “As a veterinary surgeon,” Dr. Jaffe said, “I would much rather find an alternative for my patients that doesn’t result in [the need for surgery].”

At its core, Dr. Jaffe explains, OA is inflammation of a joint, which is why these dogs are typically treated with anti-inflammatory medications. But these medications will alleviate discomfort and decrease clinical signs only to a mild degree. That’s where multimodal management comes in.

The great thing about multimodal management is that it encompasses numerous treatment options in addition to anti-inflammatories, Dr. Jaffe pointed out. Among the most important modalities, he says, is weight management, because many dogs with OA are older and have a tendency to move around less. Dr. Jaffe emphasizes the importance of diet and controlled exercise, which includes leash walking and swimming. “The reduction of weight will reduce the pressure they place on their arthritic limbs, so it’s important to get the weight off and keep these dogs as lean as possible,” he says.

Nutraceuticals are also a big part of multimodal therapy in dogs with OA, including glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane, fatty acids, CBD, and other herbals. These supplements provide the building blocks for cartilage to perform its normal healthy function. Acupuncture, laser therapy, shockwave therapy, and physical therapy, among others, are also good treatment options.

“At the end of the road, there are some patients that we just can’t treat with medical management, and we do have surgical options at that point,” Dr. Jaffe says. To learn more about the nonsurgical modalities that can be used in your OA patients, listen to the podcast below.