Dear Kara: Nutritional considerations for canine osteoarthritis (Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition)

Dear Kara: Nutritional considerations for canine osteoarthritis (Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition)

Welcome to Dear Kara, a Hill's-sponsored Q&A series designed to answer your questions about important—and sometimes perplexing­—nutrition issues regarding your canine and feline patients. Through your astute questions and Kara's thoughtful answers, Hill's hopes to provide you with useful information to pass along to your clients for their pets' continued well-being.
Sep 01, 2008


A 9-year-old Labrador retriever came to us for limping. The doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis of his right knee. What should we recommend to help him with his arthritis —food or medications?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the No. 1 cause of pain in dogs and affects 20% of adult dogs. To manage OA in dogs, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management recommends using a multimodal strategy. This strategy includes nutritional, pain, and weight management, as well as physical rehabilitation. Proper nutritional management of OA includes an eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA)-rich pet food, as EPA has been shown to disable the genes that cause cartilage degradation. Hill's® Prescription Diet® j/d® Canine pet food contains high levels of EPA and is clinically proven to improve mobility in as few as 21 days. No steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also an important component in the multimodal approach to managing OA. Deramaxx® (Novartis Animal Health) is an ideal NSAID choice because it has a flexible dosing range that allows dose titration. This is one of the reasons why Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. and Novartis Animal Health have partnered to raise awareness of the multimodal approach to treating pets.

We sent one bag of Hill's® Prescription Diet® j/d® Canine pet food home with a client whose dog had severe osteoarthritis. We instructed the client to keep the dog on it until her next visit in six months. When the dog came back six months later, the client told us the dog had only eaten the one bag of j/d Canine pet food, and then she had switched the dog back to the old brand. How can we implement a system for ensuring that our patients stay on the recommended food for the recommended amount of time?

Food for Thought
Compliance is crucial to the success of all healthcare team recommendations and follow-up is a key component to compliance. Every team should implement a follow-up plan with every client. If your client did not receive any follow-up from your clinic, she probably did not realize the importance of the nutritional recommendation. General steps for a follow-up plan include:
  • Schedule a recheck appointment before the client leaves the clinic.
  • Designate a technician to call the client three days after the appointment to check on the pet and to see if the client has any questions.
  • Calculate the amount of food the pet should eat per day. Write this down for the client and follow up by phone approximately a week before the bag of pet food runs out
  • Offer to place an order for another bag of pet food and refill the NSAID prescription.
  • Remind the client that the Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.-Novartis Animal Health partnership recognizes the importance of compliance and provides clinics with rebates for Hill's® Prescription Diet® j/d® Canine pet food and Deramaxx.® This builds a wonderful hospital client relationship, builds revenue for the practice, increases compliance, and ultimately offers the best care for the pet.