Help Your Arthritic Dogs to Stay Comfortable in the Colder Weather
If your dog has arthritis, their discomfort may increase over the colder months. This makes Winter is a good time to be extra aware of the symptoms of arthritis in your pets.
To find out more about Arthritis, including the symptoms and our 10 Top Tips to help your arthritic pets, read on…
What is Arthritis?
As your pet ages, arthritis may develop in their joints. This is usually the result of the natural wear-and-tear on the joint surfaces over years of constant use – although it may sometimes be caused by injury, or from a long-term defect such as hip dysplasia.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, especially the cartilage which lines them. Arthritis can affect just one joint, but may affect several. It is usually seen in the legs of affected pets.
Dogs of any age can be affected, but it is more common in older dogs. Cats can also get arthritis, but it is usually less common due to their lighter weight and agile build.
Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis can range from mild to severe; your four-legged friend may experience different signs depending on the severity of the arthritis.
In the early stages, your pet may become less active, may be reluctant to jump or climb stairs, or experience stiffness on rising.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Swollen joints
- Popping and cracking when the joint moves
- Muscle wasting (the muscles by the joint become smaller)
- Licking of the joint area
- Slow to rise up from a resting position
- Loss of appetite or unusual weight gain
- Unwillingness to walk, jump, or climb stairs
- Accidents in the house
- Whining, panting, or whimpering
- Depression or irritation
Arthritis is progressive, so treatment will aim to control any pain and to slow down the progression of the disease. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms above, it’s important for your pet to see a vet for a proper diagnosis.
It’s helpful to video your dog’s symptoms to show the vet.
It can be upsetting to discover that your pet is suffering with Arthritis, but with careful monitoring and treatment, most pets are able to live a normal, active and pain-free life with the condition.
Your vet will be able to discuss with you whether medication is necessary for your pet. Mild or acute arthritis may settle down after a course of anti-inflammatory drugs, but permanent medication therapy may be necessary for pets with persistent lameness or weakness.
Don’t be afraid to discuss the full range of options with your vet – there is a course of injections available which work to prevent the progression of the disease by inhibiting the enzymes which break down cartilage.
Our 10 Top Tips for Arthritic Pets
- Consider adding a food supplement to your pet’s diet, which can provide some much-needed support for an Arthritic Pet. Look for things such as Omega 3 and Green Lipped Mussel extract.
- Aim to avoid jumping wherever possible – a small step may help with allowing your pet onto the bed or sofa, and a ramp can provide much easier access to the car.
- Aim to avoid slipping – carpets, rugs and matts on wooden and tiled floors. This also goes for icy or muddy walks!
- Cold weather may exacerbate your dog’s symptoms. Ensure that you towel-dry any dampness straight after their walk and provide a warm, dry space for them to rest away from draughts. A quality bed will keep your pet comfortable and aid their joints.
- Consider raised feeding bowls for larger dogs and/or a mat under their feet whilst they eat, which may help to prevent over-stretching and splaying of limbs.
- Light exercise in the form of short, sniffy walks will help to keep your pet mobile. Enrichment at home can also prevent boredom and overexercise. Consider Kongs filled with low calorie chicken or soft cheese, scent games or activity feeders.
- Extra weight will put strain on your pet’s joints, increasing pain and potentially making it more difficult for your dog to walk. This may also result in joints becoming stiffer, less mobile or more painful. Keep their weight at the ideal for their breed, and arrange regular weight checks to keep track of their progress.
- Keep your pet’s claws trimmed, as long nails can interfere with gait and cause discomfort.
- Consider complementary therapies or physical therapies; for example, acupuncture or hydrotherapy (by veterinary referral). There are many options available in Hastings and surrounding areas. Learn more here.
- Remember – prevention is better than cure. Using a multimodal approach is much more effective than doing one thing alone.
If you’d like more support for your Arthritic Pet this winter, you can contact me any time!