Russell Vale Animal Clinic

17 Bellambi Lane
Bellambi, NS 2518


All for Joints 

New - Available now - Therapeutic KLaser 

animal pain management ivapm russell vale veterinary dog cat dr liz

Let me tell you a little story - I will start with our cat Dash, who will be 13 this year.  She had calicivirus infection when she was brought into us as a stray kitten (found under the dash of a car by two police officers, hence the name).  Poor Dash cannot dash around any more - she suffers from arthritis, most likely as a result of her viral infection as a kitten. Watching her not being able to jump onto the bench, watching her struggle to climb onto the bed, and her general tenderness in trying to sit is heartbreaking to watch.  Our options in pain management in cats is not as broad as it is in dogs. 

And then we have our dog Piper, who will be turning 6 this year (2018). She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was 6 months old, had a bilateral DPO (where her pelvis was fractured and realigned to 'capture" the femoral head (which was not successful on one side sadly), and as a result of all of that, now has lower back arthritis, elbow dysplasia (with mild arthritis). If that wasn't enough, because she was shifting more to her front legs to accommodate what her back legs weren't doing, she now has Medial Shoulder Instability (damaged ligament inside her shoulder). 

So, if you are a pet owner with these types of problems, what would you do? Well of course you would - you would go out and research, study, ask, study some more, to find out what you can do to help your pets. Hopefully, along the line you will also actually ask your vet too.  When my pets started suffering,  This is the reason why we have invested time and money into therapies that will help our dogs and cats into improved mobility, improved function and reduced pain. 

Whenever there is a webinar, class, workshop, article, or potential new wonder supplement, my little ears prick up and I listen.  I am a member of IVAPM (International Veterinary Association of Pain Management), and have recently completed a two month course in Advanced Pain Management (Anaesthetic, Acute and Chronic Pain).  

pain management pet dog cat

arthritis treatments in dogs

Want to know more about our K-laser? Watch this video

I have borrowed colleagues videos and thank them for the ability to do so.

Exercise has been shown to improve mobility of arthritic pets (and people).  But before you embark on an exercise program with your pet, you must get a full veterinary check up, specifically checking for your pets cardiovascular fitness, and to advise on nutritional support.  The exercises shown on this page assume no active injury, no swelling, oedema, infection or cancer is present. Different steps are necessary, and individualised care is required. 

Piper visits an Animal Physiotherapist , and with those exercises on board, we are getting her back on track. 

Book Now veterinary Russell Vale Animal Clinic dog cat

dog arthritis checks

Signs that your pet needs a check up now

  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Favouring a limb
  • Decreased activity or less interest in play
  • Attitude or behaviour changes
  • Having stiff or sore joints
  • Being less alert
  • Reluctance to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more
  • And for cats - poor grooming especially over the lower back or missing the litter tray during toileting, reluctance to jump and aggression when handling their feet.

Basic joint support suggestions:

1. Do not start any exercise program in your pet until their muscles are warmed up.  Gentle massage is essential and fun.  Long gentle pats along each side of your pet's body, and gentle finger massages of individual muscle groups.  Warm packs also help improve blood flow to muscle groups, but care is taken to not burn pet's skin (as pets skin is thinner than ours). 

Massage should take about 4 to 10 minutes. 

2. Repetition of steps is important like in any exercise program.  You wouldn't go to the gym for a workout, and only do one lunge, one biceps curl and one situp and expect it to do anything.  You would do 15 lunges, then rest, then repeat.  Your pet's exercise program is the same. At the bottom of the page, I will list some basic general exercises.

arthritis joint pain animals help heal ease the pain

3. Equipment -  well you can go fancy, and buy equipment or you can fashion something out of what you may already have if it is possible.  We suggest a fitness ball, lead, lots of treats and a treat dispensing bag on your belt, wobble board (or a large rubbish bin lid), hair scrunchie (you'll see), poles, obstacles, a small length of wood (for tapping) 

4. Exercises - there are alot of videos on youtube, and I will put some up here which show some of the exercises. There are also alot of inappropriate exercises on the net, so if in doubt, double check with me, or use your common sense.  The goal of therapies are to alleviate pain, improve flexibility, improve muscle blood flow, reduce muscle loss, slow down progression of degenerative joint disease, to allow the pet to regain a more normal life, without relying solely on arthritis injections and non steroidal medications. 

Exercise programs start off slow in the beginning, as your pet needs to improve its fitness (heart and muscle), otherwise you will cause more pain and do more harm.  The first rule is Do No Harm! 

Make it worth your pet's while, so always pay them well for their attention (yummy treats are what I recommend). 

 Massage: Always make sure your pets muscles are warmed up with warm towels or warm packs before starting any exercise program, and at the end, always do a cooling down massage (similar to the warming up one).



Passive Range of Motion (PROM) has been shown to reduce the requirement for non steroidal medications, although it doesn't mean your pet can go without them. The difference is that PROM and other exercises requires time and commitment, and some owners just want a quick pill.   Some pets, even with time and commitment, will only improve with medication and nutritional support. 

Sit to Stand exercises - these are great at improving muscle mass and mobility - start off with a small number of repetitions (say 5) and then build up to do 3 lots of 15. 

Water exercise - for proprioception (that is positioning) the water should be at around the ankle level. If your pet needs leash walking exercise but supported,

then have the water at hip height. To work the dog for muscle building, then the water needs to be at knee deep.  Allowing the pet to swim actually exercises the front legs only, curves the spine, with the hind legs being used as a rudder, rather than being actively used. I would love to buy an underwater treadmill, but don't have thousands to spare (darn! have to wait till I win Lotto!). 

What about other options?

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic we offer "best practice" as well as explore a range of options with each pet with arthritis.  There are many options that are now available, many of which are detailed in the handouts below.

Whilst we strongly believe in the benefits of exercise, and targeted exercise as shown above, but we also have available ...

  • Advice on what is your pet's ideal weight, and help to get them there
  • Disease modifying injections (such as weekly "arthritis" injections).  We choose Synovan (similar to Cartrophen, Zydax, Petosan)
  • Disease modifying medications (oral medications).  
  • Pharmaceutical support - there is a range of medications, ranging from anti-inflammatory to strong nerve pain relief available, with the best combination determined on a case -by-case basis.
  •  Class IV Medical Therapeutic Laser - this is an FDA cleared therapeutic treatment. We want to provide a drug free alternative in pain control for our injured pets.

Dr Liz has a special interest including advanced training in acute and chronic pain management(read her story above) 

 We are proud to be the first veterinary hospital in the Illawarra to have a Class IV therapeutic laser, called the K Laser. 

laser therapy veterinary klaser wollongong illawarra animal

It is capable of deeply penetrating into tissues with its four wavelengths


Dr Liz

updated september 2018

File NameDescription / Comment
Is your cat in painCats hide their pain so well until they can't - look at the handout for the early tell tale signs that your cat is in pain.
Is your dog in painAs our pets hide their pain, a handy checklist to make you really look at your pet.