Durban — There’s a new drug on the market to treat dogs suffering from osteoarthritis (OA), and global animal health company Zoetis South Africa says it will “significantly” improve the lives of pets and their owners.
While the company was legally bound not to name the drug, the Independent on Saturday was able to establish it is called Librela. It has been available in the country since December after making its debut in the US about three years ago.
In an interview this week, Zoetis South Africa said 37% of dogs in the country suffered from arthritis, a progressive degenerative disease. If left untreated, the pain could worsen over time. In most cases, OA affects the hips, elbows and knees.
“You want to manage pain, but there are other things on top of that which you should do. Dietary changes might help, weight management is key, so what ends up happening is by alleviating the pain the dog is able to move around more freely, which helps,” said Dr Tarryn Dent, who leads the company’s business unit for companion animals.
She said it wasn’t just the joints that were affected by OA, but the muscles, ligaments and everything around that joint.
Dent said OA was often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or disregarded as a sign of ageing, yet it wasn’t limited to elderly dogs and could affect those as young as 12 months old.
“Despite the widespread prevalence of OA in dogs, our international research suggests that only about 33% of pets suffering from the disease are actively receiving treatment.
“There are probably many underlying reasons for this, from pet owners not realising what their dogs may have, to knowing there is a problem but being unsure of the solution, to finding daily medication regimes daunting and difficult to maintain.
“In extreme cases where pets are in a lot of pain, families will even choose to euthanise to relieve a beloved animal’s pain,” she said.
Dent said OA was a “steadily debilitating” disease which affected a significant portion of canine companions. However, the latest medical breakthrough to alleviate pain associated with canine OA consisted of a single injection once a month.
She said the new treatment was a scheduled drug only available from vets, who would first do tests to determine if the dog did have OA before starting the new treatment regimen.
“The newly available, once-monthly injectable is a monoclonal antibody with a unique mode of action and functions like naturally occurring antibodies, with minimal involvement of liver or kidneys or glycaemic impact,” said Dent.
She said it effectively alleviated canine osteoarthritis pain for one month.
Dent said signs of OA were if a dog struggled to climb stairs, was reluctant to jump, limped after exercise, and noticeably lost its overall enthusiasm.
Independent on Saturday