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Cold Months – How to help pets with arthritis

Approx. 3 minutes read

Most older pets, including cats, suffer from arthritis. If you suffer from it, you will know that just a little bit of cold makes the pain worse, not to mention in winter time. There are a few ways you can assist your pets with their arthritis pain and help them to be as comfy and warm as possible.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis (i.e. joint inflammation), can be caused by various factors: prior trauma, degenerative disease, developmental disorders and infection. These are just some of the most common causes of a painful joint. Most people think this only occurs in older pets, but it can happen to younger dogs too.

What are the symptoms?

  • Your pet starts to slow down when getting up from the floor or going to sit
  • Limping
  • Difficulty moving around
  • Spinal issues
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle atrophy – wasting of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles

What can you do to help?

Unfortunately, arthritis is incurable, but there are some remedies and procedures that can help ease your pet’s pain. Take them to the vet regularly for check-ups and tell your vet about your pet’s pain symptoms. Ask your vet about the nutritional needs of your older pet and how you can minimise the discomfort from arthritis.

It is very difficult to spot arthritis in cats, as they do not often show illness. Cats need to be monitored more carefully and be taken to the vet more regularly. Cats become less active and may actually decrease their activity level because of the arthritis causing so much pain.

There are many ways in which you can increase your pet’s comfort and decrease the pain:

  • Prescription medications such as anti-inflammatories
  • Specialised joint diets and dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
  • Weight control
  • Physiotherapy and other alternative therapies – water and light therapy, massages and specialised exercises; acupuncture.
  • Specialised bedding like an orthopaedic memory foam mattress.

Older pets with arthritis stiffen up when it’s cold and keeping them warm, especially around their joints, will reduce the pain and will help them to be more comfortable.

Helpful tips 

  1. A heating pad that you can heat up in the microwave and put in your pet’s bed at night, and in their kennel during the day.
  2. Placing a thick blanket over your pet once they have settled down for the night.
  3. There are many different types of heating pads, electric blankets and hot water bottles to keep your fur babies warm. Make sure they are safe to use and that your pet won’t chew or rip it apart. Safety always comes first!
  4. Add a heating lamp in your pet’s kennel – make sure the wiring and lamp can not be chewed on and hurt your pet.
  5. Depending on the breed and coat of your pet, they may need a jersey to keep warm during winter.
  6. Make sure the shelter is away from wind and that it’s covered with a blanket.
  7. If your dog spends his day time in a kennel, lift the kennel from the freezing ground and place insulating material such as straw, bubble wrap or a cardboard box underneath the kennel to protect him from the cold ground. You can also use this gap by placing a hot water bottle beneath it, to provide underfloor heating on a particularly cold day.

It is no longer acceptable to let dogs sleep outside during the wintertime. Give them a special place to sleep inside at night – not only will you be relieving your dog’s arthritic pain, but you will warm his heart by including him in the family space. Stay warm!

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