The advent of monoclonal antibody therapy in treating osteoarthritis in dogs and cats

April 2nd, 2023

If I look back on a professional career that will extend to forty years next year, I can count on my fingers and thumbs the number of new medications that have changed the way we work as vets. Dramatic advances in treatment are rare. 

Advances in the treatment of allergies in veterinary practice(as detailed in a previous post) were the last I would put in this category. Before that pimobendan was a game-changer for the treatment of heart failure (and my own dog was one of many to benefit), reversible sedation changed veterinary practice forever, and among vaccines feline leukaemia and feline AIDS vaccines would save even more lives if we could persuade more cat owners to use them. The original Parvo epidemic swept through the UK in the mid70s so when I started seeing practice late in that decade a vaccine was available already, thank goodness. I heard the stories of litters of pups dying only at second-hand.

I think we are standing on the brink of another such advance. The use of monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of osteoarthritis in both dogs and cats will mean, I believe, that we will treat this common, painful and debilitating disease differently in the future.

There will be a change, I think, from daily or twice daily oral anti-inflammatories and pain-killers to a simple monthly injection. These treatments have been in use in the UK and Europe for two years now so they are not new, though they are new to Australia. A response to treatment should be seen within seven days. The minimum commitment required from an owner to assess the benefit is two injections a month apart, though the intention is to inject the patient each month thereafter as the level of pain relief increases over time. 

Does it cost more than traditional medication? Yes, a little, though the price difference is minimal for larger dogs on multiple medications at the moment. Given the enthusiasm with which regular anti-allergy injections have been accepted by my clients, I am confident that there will be a demand for these new treatments. Discuss them with me on your next visit to the clinic.


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