As winter approaches and the cold weather sets in, conditions such as arthritis can become more noticeable, making pets feel uncomfortable with aches, pains and stiffness. We often feel that the cold can seize up our joints and tighten up our muscles, and for pets, this is no different.
Arthritis is a degenerative condition that causes inflammation of the joints, with osteoarthritis being the most common form. It's as prevalent among cats and dogs as it is among people, and can be very debilitating.
Does it only affect older pets?
It’s true that older pets tend to suffer from arthritis more often, but pets at any age can be affected, too. Large breeds, working dogs and overweight pets can be more susceptible to joint disease. Also, arthritis is more common after injuries (breaks or sprains), surgery or certain genetic conditions (such as hip dysplasia).
What are the symptoms?
These are some of the signs your pet could be suffering from arthritis:
- Lagging behind on walks
- Sleeping more often
- Difficulty moving
- Reluctance to play, run, jump or use the stairs
- Visible pain and discomfort – especially in the mornings or after resting
If you suspect your furry friend is suffering from joint pain, visit your vet so they can do a thorough examination.
What treatments are available?
If your cat or dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are treatments that can help manage their pain and improve their quality of life. These include anti-inflammatory medication, joint supplements, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, heat therapy, and acupuncture.
However, please consult your vet for a diagnosis and the right treatment for your pet.
How can I help?
Finding the right treatment for your pet is usually the first course of action, but there are many things you can do to make their life easier.
- Ensure they have soft, comfortable bedding away from draughts and protected from cold surfaces. Use blankets for extra warmth or invest in a good quality bed.
- Stay active. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and increases blood circulation to joints. Choose frequent, short and gentle activities like walking or playing, and try to limit the amount of jumping or climbing – especially in older pets.
- Protect your dog from the cold and wet weather by applying a water-resistant and windproof coat when out walking.
- Keep your pet a healthy weight, as any extra pounds will add strain on their joints. You can also help by introducing a specialised diet for weight loss (if overweight) or joint health (to alleviate joint pain). Please refer to your vet for further advice.
- Cover wooden floors and hard surfaces with mats or carpets to prevent slipping or discomfort when walking.
- Give your pet a daily joint care supplement such as YuMOVE or Seraquin. Introducing a joint supplement to your cat and dog's daily diet will help to soothe joint stiffness, support long-term joint health and promote mobility.
In summary, finding the right treatment is essential, but preventative care is the first step. Look after your pet's joints with a healthy diet, daily exercise and heartwarming cuddles, and you'll be on the right track.