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Innovative Tools and Insights on Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats Presented at WSAVA

Innovative Tools and Insights on Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats Presented at WSAVA
New data and innovative tools surrounding osteoarthritis are being presented at the 2019 WSAVA Conference. Stefano Garau/Shutterstock.com
Parsippany, N.J.Zoetis presented data and shared innovative tools and insights into osteoarthritis (OA) pain control at the 2019 World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Conference in Toronto, Canada, from July 16-19, 2019. The company highlighted a new approach that targets Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the pain pathway to enable long-lasting OA pain relief. Several presentations related to research and development in chronic OA pain addressed the topic. “Anti-NGF therapy will undoubtedly play a large role in OA pain management, and it’s important for us to share insights with the veterinary community especially when dogs and cats cannot speak for themselves,” said Joyce Login, DVM, Veterinary Medical Lead, Pain, Oncology and Specialty at Zoetis. “Our data builds on more than 30 years of research and commitment to companion animal pain management. We [are] making materials available through our new interactive website.”

WSAVA Highlights

Prior to the start of the WSAVA conference, Zoetis hosted an educational event entitled “The (UN)usual Suspects with Osteoarthritis Pain: Who Are We Missing and How Do We Find Them?”, which focuses on the latest tools and techniques to help identify OA pain in cats and dogs. Dr. Duncan Lascelles (canine), BSc, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, CertVA, DSAS(ST), DECVS, DACVS Professor of Small Animal Surgery and Pain Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC and Dr. Margaret Gruen (feline) DVM, MVPH, PhD, DACVB, Fear Free Certified Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC led a discussion focused on several topics including examination tools and tips for feline and canine OA pain, Quality of Life for cats with OA pain and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), OA pain and novel anti-NGF therapies for OA

Nerve Growth Factor

  • Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is a protein produced by injured tissues. NGF is elevated in joints with OA. It is one of many factors mediating pain
  • When NGF binds to its receptor (TrkA) on peripheral nerve endings it initiates the pain signal. NGF also binds to TrkA on inflammatory cells within the joint, inducing the release of both pro-inflammatory mediators and more NGF which contribute to a cycle of pain and inflammation
  • New innovations and clinical research around anti-NGF therapies have resulted in a way to decrease the amount of NGF in the joint and reduce its negative influence
  • The species-specific therapies are long-acting (for about a month) and are delivered via subcutaneous injection
  • Anti-NGF antibodies may have tremendous potential for the management of osteoarthritis (OA) pain
  • Anti-NGF therapy has several attributes that contribute to its effect controlling the pain of osteoarthritis. These include:
    • Blocks pain signals by preventing NGF from binding to and activating the Tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) receptors
    • Blocks the binding of NGF to immune cells in joints with OA disease
    • Non-narcotic and non-sedating therapeutic option
    • Sustained pain reduction safely delivered for about a month in both canine and feline pilot studies
Research has shown that there is potential for anti-NGF therapy to help control OA pain. This represents the first innovation identified to block pain outside the prostaglandin pain pathway. Anti-NGF therapy may be a new way for veterinarians to provide a safe and long-lasting pain relief for cats and dogs. New Website for Veterinarians: Zoetis launched at WSAVA “The New Science of Osteoarthritis Pain” (www.TheNewScienceofOAPain.com) website for veterinarians. The website will offer veterinarians the opportunity to discover new science and new tools to support diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis in cats and dogs including videos highlighting the keys to a successful OA exam for cats.

OA Pain (Canine and Feline) Stats

  • The prevalence of OA in both cats and dogs is often under-recognized. Veterinarians suspect as many as 37% of dogs have clinical evidence of OA
  • In cats, the number that have clinical signs is 38% and greater than 90% of cats older than 12 years of age show radiographic evidence
  • According to research, veterinarians report that they diagnose OA in cats less frequently than in dogs
  • Dogs often get OA secondary to joint conformation issues. This means that they can develop OA much earlier than might be expected (it’s not always an “old dog” disease)
  • Dogs and cats tend to hide when they are hurt. It is important that pet owners know what to look for to help recognize the signs of OA pain
    • They typically have subtle changes in behavior like slowing down in their activities, or difficulty going up/down steps
  • OA pain negatively impacts quality of life. Chronic pain can impact how dogs and cats interact with their pet owners (disrupt the HAB), as well as their mood, sleep, activity levels, and can even cause suffering
  • Veterinarians play a central role in helping to raise awareness among pet owners of this silent epidemic. When pet owners learn more about OA, they are very interested in finding out more from their veterinarians


Read Opportunities to Improve Outcomes in Arthritic Pets Learn about Alternative Ways to Discuss Pet Obesity and Weight Loss Read Banfield's 2019 Veterinary Emerging Topics Report on Osteoarthritis