University of Melbourne veterinarians launch new pain management study for dogs

11 August 2017

Just like their owners, man’s best friend can also suffer from osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that occurs when cartilage at the ends of bones wears down causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.

University of Melbourne veterinarians launch new pain management study for dogs
University of Melbourne veterinarians have launched a new pain-management study for dogs

A new pain management study for dogs, the first of its kind in Australia, has been launched by veterinarians at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet clinic in Werribee to look at a new way to treat osteoarthritis in canines.

Dr Andrew Woodward and Dr Thierry Beths are leading the study and note that pain management for dogs is very similar to how humans are treated.

“When a dog has osteoarthritis we tend to see symptoms such as limited movement including limping,” says Dr Woodward from the Pain Management and Rehabilitation Clinic at the university’s U-Vet Clinic.

“Pets are part of the family, so it’s understandably very concerning for owners when their dog is in pain. With the condition osteoarthritis, dogs do experience mild discomfort to severe pain and lameness from joint swelling.”

The study will test a new plant oil-based pain relief gel.

The University of Melbourne Veterinary research team is recruiting 64 dogs for the canine pain management trial. Dogs need to

  • Have lameness or difficulty moving associated with osteoarthritis
  • Be older than 6 months of age
  • Have been off any arthritis-related medication for 1 week
  • Participate in the 35-day study, including five visits to the Werribee clinic

Dogs will be x-rayed, a blood test taken and have a Fitbit-like device fitted to monitor level of activity. The device measures a subject’s energy expenditure and number of steps in real time, where a reduction in movement can indicate pain.

The patient’s gait will also be recorded using a pressure-sensing walkaway. The walkway allows analysis of the patient’s gait by measuring the ground force reaction at each step.

Melbourne Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

University of Melbourne Veterinary School offers the four-year, graduate-entry Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. The curriculum has been carefully developed to graduate highly capable veterinary scientists whose abilities to solve problems, to draw on the substantial body of veterinary knowledge, to interpret evidence, and to make decisions and act upon them within a clear ethical and professional framework embody all of the graduate attributes to which the faculty aspires.

Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Intake: Late February/early March
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible.

Apply to the University of Melbourne Veterinary School!


Do you have questions about studying at the University of Melbourne Veterinary School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Veterinary Schools Admissions Officer Meghan Strank at