Effects of weight reduction and physical therapy methods on severity of lameness and defensive behaving on palpation of the affected joint were investigated using 29 adult overweight dogs with clinical signs and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis. Patients were assigned either to group one or group two. Treatment of obesity was based on restricting energy intake to 60 % of energy requirements of target body weight in both groups. All dogs underwent a home based physical therapy program. Group one was treated additionally by TENS. In monthly intervals dogs were weighed and lameness and pain were assessed.
In bimonthly intervals kinetic gait analysis was performed. At each control point dogs in both groups showed significant lower body weight throughout the study. Results of the orthopaedic examinations in group one showed a significant reduction of lameness and defensive behaving from the first control point in the course of the study.
Evaluation of ground reaction forces indicated a significant improvement of the peak vertical force and the vertical impulse at each control point. In group two a significant reduction of lameness was found after two to five months. Pain on palpation was significantly reduced after 4 and 5 months. Peak vertical force showed a significant change after 4 months. In conclusion weight reduction combined with a home based physical therapy program led to good results. Additional electrotherapeutical treatment and a more intensive support and therefore owner compliance showed an overall better result concerning weight reduction as well as clinical outcome (grade of lameness and pain on palpation of the affected joint).