The cold weather is here – Keep an eye out on arthritis in your furry companion!

Brr..... It’s starting to feel like winter!

Now is the time for us to snuggle up in front of the fire place wearing our dressing gowns and uggboots,  sipping on warm hot chocolate. Sounds perfect doesn’t it?! ……but we can’t forget about our fur babies outside!  Especially our senior ones!

If you’re feeling the cold, there is a good chance your fur baby is too!

Just like  us, as we get older and the  dreaded cooler weather hits, arthritis can sneak up on our pets. So its extremely important for us to keep them toastie and warm.

Before winter really hits we wanted to give you all a heads up on arthritis, so together we can make sure your older arthritic pets see the winter through as comfortable and pain free as possible. If you are the parent of an older fur baby at home, this is the blog for you!

Firstly, What is Arthritis?

Well…… In a nutshell, arthritis is a gradual degenerative joint disease where the smooth cartilage that covers the bones wears down. In young and healthy dogs, this cartilage helps the joints move freely. However, as our pets age and time goes by, the bones become exposed and begin to rub together. This is what causes the joints to become stiff and as you can imagine, quite painful. Ouch!

It can be a surprise knowing our fur babies are in pain. Don’t worry if you didn’t realise though- dogs are extremely good at hiding pain and won’t always limp, whine or yelp.  To read about arthritis in more detail click the link below to see our clinic arthritis handout.

What signs might my dog show?

Most signs of arthritis are subtle and sneak up on our furry friends and at first can be hard to spot.

Most signs of arthritis are subtle and sneak up on our furry friends and at first can be hard to spot.

Here’s a list below:

Are they:

  • Hesitant to jump into the car or onto the bed?
  • Getting slower on walks or doesn’t want to walk as far as usual?
  • Slipping on floorboards and tiles? Hesitant to walk up stairs?
  • Lowering their body slowly to lie down?
  • Grumpy when touched? Or less excited to see you and greet you?
  • Sleeping or resting more often? Seem lethargic?

Do they have muscle loss over the spine, hind legs and/or shoulders?

Do these signs sound familiar?

Often we put these signs and changes down to ‘just getting old’,  but that isn’t always the case. They could be in significant pain and just isn’t able to tell you! But don’t you worry- there are many things at home and at the clinic you can do to slow down the progression of arthritis and keep your loved family member pain free! Next time you are at the clinic, just ask our friendly staff or give us a call! In the mean time, continue reading for some simple tips you can try at home!

How to help arthritis from home:

Great News! - There are some relatively simple things you can do from home to help relieve your arthritic pet:

  • Go easy on the sneaky treats! - Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is extremely important. Overweight pets put tremendous amounts of strain on their joints often flaring up the arthritis.
  • Provide your pet with a warm, comfortable bed with plenty of padding, particulary in the colder months. Raised and heated beds are a great idea!
  • Designer coats aren’t just for looks! They help keep your pets all rugged up and warm. On a side note if your dog already has a gorgeous designer coat – be sure to enter this month’s clinic Facebook All Rugged Up” competition!
  • Where possible reduce the numbers of stairs your pet needs to climb – use a non slip ramp. I’m sure there is nothing you hate more then walking up stars with sore, stiff joints.
  • Exercise your pet in small amounts – short gentle walks keep the muscles toned and the joints moving with out too much strain.

What can we do for your pet?

If you are at all suspicious your pet may be in pain or has arthritis we strongly recommend a visit with one of our lovely veterinarians.

To hit arthritis on the head, we will come up with a management plan to suit both you and your poochs needs.  A well-rounded approach will help your fur baby get the most out of life!

This might include:

  • Medication - we may prescribe your loved pet with daily anti-inflammatory tablets which can help relieve the pain and inflammation of the joint. We may also prescribe another type of medication known as Pentosan which helps to actively repair and maintain joints. Pentosan is a set of injections given over 4 weeks and effects can last up to a year.
  • Diet –. Feeding a diet high in glucosamine and chondroitin (natural anti-inflammatory and joint protective compounds) can make a HUGE difference to a pet suffering from arthritis! We stock Hills Prescription j/d Diet at the clinic. Alternatively adding a powdered or chew supplement such as Joint guard to your pet’s meal is a great way to add glucosamine and chondroitin into their daily intake.
  • Fish oil – extremely stinky stuff but full of amazing joint healing properties. Fish oil contains many omega acids comes in a liquid form, which is very easy to give your pet. We stock Paw fish oil at the clinic which is special formulated and flavoured for pets!
  • Physical Therapy –  Yes that’s right; Pets can have physical therapy too! This is a whole other blog!..... Click the link below to read our lovely nurse Amy’s, physical therapy exercises that you can do with your pooch from home!

We really hope  these tips and information help to keep your senior pet comfortable over the winter months! However, if you are worried your pet is suffering from arthritis, please don’t hesitate to call us to arrange a check up with our team of lovely veterinarians.