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Why the Fuss About Arthritis? | Arthritis Awareness Week Day 1

 

 


Full Interview Transcript: 

Eric Shannon:

Hey everybody! This is Eric Shannon, the founder of Big Barker Dog Beds, and I'm here with Dr. Hannah Capon from CAM, which stands for Canine Arthritis Management. And we're starting a very important week this week, aren't we?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah. We're all about arthritis this week, because we have so much to tell you and so much important information that's going to make you have a better quality of life with your dog for longer. Your dog more years, that's what we're all about.

Eric Shannon:

In our opinion, arthritis is probably the most widespread health problem that dogs face as they get older, and at Big Barker, if you're familiar with us, you know that the whole reason we exist is to create a product that help dogs in those stages of life where the arthritis kicks in, relieve pain, help with joints, et cetera.

And we're starting this week called Arthritis Awareness Week. So today is the very first day, and I'll be here with Dr. Capon talking about Why the Fuss About Arthritis. We are sponsoring the events this week, we're very happy to do so along with a company called Outward Hound, who is co-sponsoring with us as well. And if you'd like the recordings to all of these videos, visit. www.bigbarker.com/aaw. But before we ask the question, "Why the fuss about arthritis and why is it so important?", I'd like to first start off by showing everybody a little video.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Still gets me too!

Eric Shannon:

Yeah, that is really an incredibly touching video. I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago, and it still gets me.

Eric Shannon:

So I've known you for years now, and you have devoted your entire life to fighting against canine arthritis by starting CAM. You've even received the Royal Veterinary College Impact Award as a result of your efforts. So tell us more about that video and tell us more about why the fuss about arthritis? Why have you devoted your life to fighting against it?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

So, that's my dog. That was my dog in that video, it was the lovely Holly! And having been a vet now for 18 years, the video was made when I was at my 15 year point, and I think I just had this massive light-bulb moment about a condition that we see so commonly, and in my opinion, we're just not managing it very well.

And there's a real acceptance that, "Oh, well, they just get arthritis" and "Oh, well, it's just one of those things." And people haven't put the pieces of the puzzle together and realized that actually it's a leading cause of suffering, and it's the leading cause of deaths. I've said it, it's the major reason we put dogs to sleep. We now have literature to support that. So from studies that have been done, we know it's one of the major reasons that people have to say goodbye. They don't pass in their sleep, they get to a point where they can't move anymore because it's so painful, and the owner's say the only option available is to let them go.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

So when you start bringing that together with what you can do is if anything right, I've got to bring these pieces of the puzzle together for other people so that they can take action sooner. And that's what this awareness week is about. It's about helping people identify the signs sooner and get management plans in place to make sure that the dogs live a comfortable life for as long as possible. And that's how we met, because we care about lifestyle, we care about management, and it is hugely neglected. So high five, all right, you've got the right mindset about this as far as I'm concerned!

Eric Shannon:

Well, my dog, can you see the picture of Hank up there on my wall? So, that's Hank. He passed away when he was 13, a couple of years ago and his whole life he had hip dysplasia, he developed arthritis. So it really was a big part of my life, helping him move as easily as he could, because you could see it affecting his quality of life once he got to be about eight and nine, especially around 10 years old. Now he made it to 13, but that was the reason he passed away. It was because he got to a point where moving just wasn't really possible.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

No.

Eric Shannon:

You mentioned that that arthritis is a leading cause of death, but that's not something people really think about, is it?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Well, there's a real problem because humans, we get what's called primary OA (osteoarthritis), which means that it comes with wear and tear and you expect it, you know, if you've had a really active, harsh life on your body. So, for example, my dad was a builder and a bricklayer and he's got arthritis in his hands, he's got it in his shoulders, he's got it in his upper bones, he's had a hip replacement, his back's gone, and it's come with age and wear and tear.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

But dogs are different. They're so different. They have what's called secondary arthritis, which means they get it from joint disorders. And joint disorders start when they're young. So the massive thing that people don't realize is a lot of these arthritis cases they've been dealing with it for years and years. And dogs are amazing! As you know, with your own dog, they cope brilliantly well. They're loyal companions and they get on with life. And we can quite easily be living with a dog, that's actually going, "Hey, I'm actually really sore, but I'm just going to be your friend, and I'm going to stay with you and do everything that I can to be your mate, but actually I'm really sore!"

And we, as their owners, as their advocates, should be able to identify and start helping them earlier. And a lot of people have fear about long-term commitments and vets and medication, but if you identify this disease really early, a lot of lifestyle changes can be all that's needed. Weight control, appropriate exercise, looking at how you manage them at home. And this is where the beds come in, they are really important.

Eric Shannon:

So let's talk about that for a sec. So we started this video, we had a banner across the bottom that says "Is your dog 5 or older?" Tell us why we picked that number 5? Knowing that all dogs can have arthritis younger, but why did we pick 5?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Okay so CAM actually started because I am really into old dogs. I feel that they just get pushed out. I have people coming with their puppies and they go, "Oh my Gosh, I've got a brand new puppy and I want the best food, I want the best harness, I want the best training school, I want the best everything." And then 15 minutes later, the next consult would be a ten year old lab that kind of plugs in for his vaccine or for his health check. And they're like, "Oh yeah, he's had the same color and the same lead," you've been a loyal companion for so long. So I started CAM really with the mindset of helping the older dog. So that's why we've kind of chosen five, because people can connect with that better.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

But actually the truth is arthritis is a disease of the younger dog. It just really raises its ugly head when they're older. So our chats and our awareness is about all dogs, but we know over the age of five, that's when you're really going to start seeing it rear its ugly head with intermittent lameness, behavior change, posture change, things like this. So that's why we said five because we know that those people are going to prick their ears up and go, "Maybe I'm seeing it, am I seeing it?" And we're going to talk about that this week, signs of pain. And we're going to do that with the lovely Dr. Gwen Covey-Crump.

Eric Shannon:

So for the owners that have dogs that have arthritis, whether they realize it or not, because I know in my experience talking to veterinarians, a common thing that they hear is the owner with the older dog will come into the vet and they'll say, "Well, how is Max doing?" And they'll say, "Oh, he's doing good, he's getting older, he's slowing down a little bit." And the slowing down isn't often equated to arthritis, from what I'm told by veterinarians. Why do you think that is? And then how can we help owners with dogs like that, who aren't necessarily limping everywhere they go, and they're not an obvious pain, but they are starting to slow down a little bit. They don't move like they used to. What are some things we can do to help dogs like that?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Okay, so this is really difficult because we've got such breed variation. People that are listening, somebody might have a chihuahua and somebody else might have a Great Dane. And dogs do age at different rates. We know that a Great Dane and a chihuahua, they've got different lifespan. So there's a lot of confusion about what is acceptable aging. And that's something that I haven't got all the answers for. But what we do know is unexpected earlier than normal aging. So if you have, for example, a Labrador and he started slowing down at eight, nine years old, you're thinking, well, that's actually a bit early. They really should be in the prime of their life until they're 11, 12. If you had a chihuahua that was slowing down around about six, seven years old, that's not right! That's way too early. So there's that way you can look at it.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

But also, I think any change that owner sees, get it checked because we know that arthritis is so prevalent that if you've got a mobility change, a behavior change, the dog seems to be, as you say, not as interested, not as engaged, doesn't want to play so much, doesn't walk so far, walks slowly, seems distracted, get a health check. Because it would really kick yourself if they're actually in pain with arthritis and we could do something about it. 

Eric Shannon:

And in that health check, what should they be looking out for specifically?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Okay so in a health check, there is the owner's observations, which are really important. So if somebody comes to see me, I want to know what they see because in the vet check, the dog is likely to behave differently because they're stressed or they're excited, they're in a new space with lots of different scents and smells and noises going on. So I want to know what the owner's seeing. And if they're seeing a dog, as you say, slowing down, behaving differently, different capabilities, my ears prick up.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

But then when it comes to the actual vet check, I'm looking at their body shape, see if there's changes. I am feeling to see if they flinch away. If they're uncomfortable they don't like being touched, if they try and avoid you. And then palpating them, feeling each joint. Have they got a nice fluid movement for each joint? Do they bend and extend as much as they should do? I'm feeling all over them looking for any signs of discomfort. And if I find areas, I go, "Well actually both of your hips are really sore in your dog and we've got muscle mass loss and we've got changes." I'd be then saying to the owner, "Look, it'd be ideal if we get some x-rays to find out what we're dealing with, so we can come up with a long-term plan."

Eric Shannon:

So would you say that's the number one thing somebody can do right now? If they feel that the dog is slowing down a little bit, step one really is to go to the vet and get that health check?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

I would say, that's the ideal. But let's be honest about it. No one has easy access to vets at the moment because of COVID, a lot of people find it difficult to get vet appointments. And also there is a bit of a fear of what happens if the vet confirms your suspicions. And what does that mean to me in the longterm? And I guess a lot of people are worried about finances.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

So I'm going to be really kind. I'm going to say, first of all, learn a bit more about the condition, and that's where CAM has come in. We have a Facebook page, we have a website, we're on Instagram, we're on YouTube. Go and have a bit of a learn, get more equipped, think about it. We've got a brilliant document that I can put in the thread at the side where you can fill in your suspicions. If you think actually there is something going on, then when you go to your vet, we're going to get so much more out of that consultation than if you just go to your vet and go, "well, I watched something on Facebook and I think my dog might have arthritis." Go equipped! So I'm going to give you the suspicion of chronic pain document, have a think about it, learn about it and then go to your vet.

Eric Shannon:

Good ideas. So everybody watching this now, if you want that document, sign up at  www.bigbarker.com/aaw. That's where you can register for Arthritis Week. We'll make sure that we email that document to everybody that's registered for the event, along with the replays of all the other videos as they occur.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah, and also I'm just going to shout out there's a YouTube channel that we've made, because we know that people like to be talked to. So we've made a load of video clips as if you were in the consult room with us, and we were talking to you about your dog to get your brain in the right place. We'll put a link to that too.

Eric Shannon:

Okay, excellent. All right, we'll send that out shortly. So Hannah, let's talk about why you are so focused on arthritis and bringing more attention. Now you mentioned that the dog and the video was Holly. So tell us more about Holly and your journey together and how it brought you to CAM.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Yeah, I think people always say that you never really understand something until you've been there. And like many people, my dog was my absolute everything. I get tearful even thinking about it. And when she started to struggle with pain, because that is the main clinical sign of arthritis, if it wasn't for pain, it wouldn't be a problem. When she started to struggle with pain, I suddenly was on the other side of the consult table. I was the owner, and I realized how difficult it was to make decisions. How to medicate daily? How to change the medications? How to keep the weight under control? How to choose the right amount of exercise? Whether to try a new therapy? Could I get better than I was currently at, or was I going to do worse by introducing something else? And I suddenly realized that it's really tough. And there was no guidance I found online, and I'll be really honest.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Online was full of people trying to sell me stuff. And being a vet and scientist, I could see beyond it and go, "Well, that's rubbish, that's rubbish, that's rubbish." But I suddenly realized that a lot of people didn't have my education and they would just buy into it. And we see this all the time. So I decided I wanted to make a safe resource that people could go to knowing that they were never having any commitment to buy. They can get what they need to make sure that they do the best for their dog and for themselves. And that was really really important to me.

Eric Shannon:

So final question for today, before we start flowing into tomorrow and the rest of the presentations, is let's sign off with this. So knowing what you know now, is there anything that you wish every dog owner knew about arthritis?

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Okay, so there's so much, and I have to pick one and that's hard. So it's going to be weight control. It's just a prolific problem, and we're to talk about it later in the week. Having an overweight pet has so many repercussions to it, you can't imagine. And arthritis is severely affected by weight carriage. We've got an absolute obesity epidemic globally at the moment, 60% of owners have overweight pets. So that means that 6 out of 10 of you guys listening, your dog is likely to be overweight.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

So that means that if I could give you anything today, I want you to go and look at your dog, take your eyeballs out, put them back in and look at the dog as if it's not your dog, and critique their body weights, because they should have a waistline. If you look from above, they should have a waistline behind that rib cage. If you look from the side, the rib should come up into an abdomen. You should be able to feel the ribs! You should be able to feel the ribs! Okay? Be cruel to be kind, because there is no doubt across the board, everybody agrees that this obesity epidemic is killing our dogs. So it has a massive impact on arthritis, but it also causes so many other problems. Get your dog's weight right!

Eric Shannon:

And I believe it's on Wednesday. We have Dr. Ward doing a presentation on weight, so that's going to be really good.

Dr. Hannah Capon:

Oh yes! If you think I'm lively, you haven't seen anything!

Eric Shannon:

So Hannah thanks for coming on today. I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow. So to wrap up again, anybody still watching go to www.bigbarker.com/aaw, register for this event, and we'll send you all the videos plus all the resources we talked about today. Thank you very much everybody, appreciate it! See you all tomorrow. 

 

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Shannon Wells

Big Barker's Marketing Director

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