Is the Door Ajar? Pet Arthritis and Cold Weather Care
The famous song Big Yellow Taxi is about taking things for granted and missing them when they’re gone. The idea “you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone” could actually be applied to one of our favorite things: cartilage. Indeed, we often don’t think about how our joints work until the day they don’t.
Unfortunately, the onset of colder weather seems to increase the frequency and intensity of pet arthritis symptoms, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make your pet as comfortable as possible!
This firm yet flexible connective tissue is absolutely magical for all the joints in your pet’s body. Osteoarthritis is diagnosed when the cartilage between a joint is eroded (meaning it’s breaking down). This most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, pelvis, ankles, spine, and hips. When the bones come into contact with one another, further erosion occurs, and the pain associated with this degenerative condition can be agonizing and debilitating.
Overweight or obese pets are at a higher risk of developing pet arthritis, as the joints have more difficulty supporting extra girth. The pressure on your pet’s joints and bones can be mitigated by weight loss or weight management, and we’re happy to discuss possible changes to your pet’s nutrition.
Pet arthritis primarily affects senior pets or pets who have sustained an injury. Every case is progressive, but most pets benefit from a clear and manageable treatment plan. This could include any or all of the following measures:
- Alternative or advanced therapies
- Therapeutic exercise
- Pet massages
- Dietary changes
- Anti-inflammatory medications and/or supplements
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise an arthritic pet, but not engaging in any physical activity can actually exacerbate existing pain. Slow, regular exertion can benefit your pet, so try non-weight bearing, low-impact activities such as swimming. Remember, it’s always best to check with us prior to making adjustments or adding new elements to your pet’s routine.
There are a variety of medications and supplements that mitigate pet arthritis pain
and stiffness, and we’re happy to discuss how your pet could benefit from them. Some are used to manage pain and reduce inflammation while others promote cartilage repair. It all depends on the severity of your pet’s arthritis.
We have also found laser therapy to be very beneficial, and it can be used in tandem with other treatments to soothe pain.
Cold, damp air makes the symptoms of arthritis more painful. You can help your pet by:
- Keeping him or her warm all winter long in a cozy, soft padded bed
- Providing boots or appropriate pet clothing while outside
- Grooming areas that may be harder for him or her to reach
- Installing a ramp to get onto furniture or up/down stairs
- Keeping food, water, and litter boxes easily accessible
It’s not easy for owners and their companions to deal with pet arthritis, but with a little TLC and extra consideration of your pet’s needs, he or she can get through winter without a hitch.
As always, please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns about pet arthritis.