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Rehabilitation following surgical management of canine osteoarthritis

02 December 2023
10 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 10


A multimodal approach is often considered best for the successful management of canine osteoarthritis. While most cases of mild or moderate osteoarthritis can be managed well without surgical intervention, surgery should be considered as a treatment option for severe cases that are not responding well to conservative management alone. The surgical options available for the patient vary depending on a number of factors such as the individual joint(s) worse affected, and the age and size of the patient. Rehabilitation is indicated following surgery in order to maximise patient outcome regardless of the procedure; and is likely to be beneficial longer term in order to continue to manage the clinical signs associated with osteoarthritis.

There are a wide range of treatment options currently available within veterinary practice for the management of osteoarthritis. One option which should be considered and ruled in or out when considering a patient management plan is surgery.

There are multiple surgical options available for the management of osteoarthritis, which differ according to the joint(s) affected. The goals of surgical treatment are similar regardless of the procedure performed, and include to improve pain, to maintain or maximise joint function, and/or to slow the progression or remove the changes within the joint associated with osteoarthritis (Cook and Payne, 1997). This article focuses on rehabilitation following some of the most common procedures referred for rehabilitation therapies following surgical management, including:


Total hip replacement is most often considered as a management option for skeletally mature dogs who are not responding successfully to conservative management (Dycus et al, 2022). It is a procedure associated with a high success and low complication rate, with success reported as being between 80–98%, based on the status of pain and function assessed both clinically and radiographically, and by owner feedback (Henderson et al, 2017). The more common complications following total hip replacement include luxation, femoral fracture, issues relating to wound healing, implant loosening, acetabular fracture and sciatic neurosis (Henderson et al, 2017).

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