It's a Dog's Life

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I believe the relatively short years that our four-legged friends get to spend with us in this world should be the best we can possibly make them, don't you?

Hi, I'm Gemma and I am a dog enthusiast (amongst other things). A strange introduction, I know, but ever since I can remember I have been easily distracted by dogs. 

If there was ever a dog near me as a child, it was like nothing else existed and I was mesmerised. To be honest, I’m still the same now. I suppose that’s how I ended up where I am today. 

Working as a Canine Physiotherapist is a dream job and one I feel very lucky to have. To me, it seems like a very logical role in the care of our canine companions. However, it is often met with confused expressions and questioning eyes. 

“What does a canine physiotherapist do?”, they ask.

To which I respond; Pretty much the same as a human physiotherapist but with more legs and less patient conversation. 

Not always an easy task but it is very much a rewarding one in which I get to spend my days with my favourite animal; dogs, and favourite people; dog people.   

Quite simply, it is my job to keep your best friend feeling their best!

It was after completing my training to become an animal physiotherapist that I found out some truly shocking statistics about canine osteoarthritis (OA) and this is when my passion for canine arthritis care was born. 

Did you know that around 80% of dogs over the age of 8 are living with some form of osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is also the number one reason for early elective euthanasia in the UK?

It’s not a disease that only affects the old. Some data suggests that around 35% of all dogs over the age of 1 are affected by the disease. 

These statistics (taken from a course I completed with Canine Arthritis Management) sent a jolt through my body. All those golden oldies of days gone by weren’t “just getting old” or “a little bit stiff” they were actually experiencing very real and persistent chronic pain. 


Although OA is an incurable disease in all species, the great news is that there are many ways to manage it. For example: 

  • Weight management
  • Appropriate exercise
  • Home environment adaptations

However, the very first step in treating OA is recognising the signs and that comes down to all you lovely dog owners. It is up to us to recognise changes in our dogs and advocate for them. 

So, what should you be looking out for and what should you do if you notice a change? 

Signs of change can be subtle, dogs are naturally self-preserving creatures and will disguise discomfort for as long as possible. 

Some of the first things owners might notice is reduced stamina on their usual walks, reduced enthusiasm for exercise or perhaps even a limp when they walk. 

Sometimes it just comes down to knowing your own dog and noticing that they are not being themselves and recognising a change in their behaviour. 


So, what should you do if you notice a physical or behavioural change in your dog? 

We all know the expression prevention is better than the cure. However, in this instance, prevention or delaying progression is our only option, so early diagnosis is key.

Getting your vet onboard at an early stage is essential so a trip to see your vet is the best place to start. With a clear diagnosis to identify the location and severity of the condition your vet will help you with a plan to manage your dog’s pain levels. They may talk to you about pain medication, joint supplements, appropriate diet and weight management. 

It’s from here that your vet can refer to a qualified Animal Physiotherapist (like myself) who will be able to support you through looking at environmental changes, exercise alterations, physical therapy to restore function and discuss ways we can intervene to slow the progression of the disease.


If this is something that has interested you and you would like to know more, I would love the opportunity to talk to you. 


How is your beloved pet holding up? If anything I have mentioned has made you think about your own loved one, then please get in touch and I will be happy to support you. 


All the best,

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