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Elanco guide helps owners spot OA

When it comes to joint inflammation, the most astute observations begin at home

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Duncan Lascalles monitors a young dog’s agility and movement.
Duncan Lascalles monitors a young dog’s agility and movement.

Veterinarians are now better equipped to educate clients on canine osteoarthritis (OA), thanks to Elanco Animal Health.

Created with the COAST Development Group, the Canine OsteoArthritis Staging Tool (COAST) combines pet owner and veterinary assessments to determine the stage and severity of OA in dogs.

The disease affects more than one in five canines. Unlike humans, animals are not able to communicate when they are in pain and, as such, many dogs live with OA for years before it is detected.

When it comes to spotting early warning signs, Duncan Lascelles, BSc, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, CertVA, DSAS(ST), DECVS, DACVS, a professor of small animal surgery and pain management at North Carolina State University (NC State) College of Veterinary Medicine, says it is important for owners to remain proactive and alert.

“I always tell pet owners OA pain doesn’t have to be a normal part of their dog getting older,” he says. “If pet owners identify subtle changes in their dogs’ behavior or movement, like a change in activity level or slowness to jump on or off of the couch, it’s time to talk with a veterinarian.”

This input is critical, Elanco says, as owners are in the best position to evaluate the impact of OA on the dog’s quality of life at home. Veterinarians should advise clients to look out for the following indicators as early warning signs of OA:

  • Changes in activity level
  • Stiffness, limping, or favoring a leg
  • Difficulty standing, especially after sleeping
  • Reluctance to walk, jump, or climb stairs
  • Whimpering in pain or protecting painful joints
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