How to protect your pet’s joints this winter

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With colder temperatures starting to take hold, conditions like arthritis might be more of a concern, causing your pet discomfort in the form of aches, stiffness and sharp pain. We might notice how our joints seize up and our muscles get tight in the winter, and it’s no different for pets.

A degenerative condition, arthritis is the inflammation of joints, with the most common condition being osteoarthritis. It’s as much of an debilitating issue in cats and dogs as it is in humans, causing great pain.

Is it only older pets who suffer?

While it’s most often older pets that suffer from arthritis, pets of any age are prone to the condition. Larger breeds, overweight pets and working dogs are most likely to suffer. It’s worth noting that arthritis is more common after an injury, such as a break or a sprain, as well as genetic conditions like hip dysplasia, or even after surgery.

The symptoms to look out for

Look out for these signs that might indicate your pet is suffering:

Lagging on walks

Sleeping more

More irritable than usual

Moving with a limp

Difficulty when moving

Reluctance to run and play, jump or take stairs

Visible discomfort or pain – particularly in the mornings or after they’ve been resting

The first thing you should do if you suspect your pet is suffering from a joint issue is arrange an appointment with your vet and get a thorough examination.

Can treatments help?

Once your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis, treatments are available to manage the pain and maintain a good quality of life. These treatments range from anti-inflammatory medication and hydrotherapy, to joint supplements, physiotherapy, heat therapy, and even acupuncture.

You should always consult a qualified vet for a confirmed diagnosis and to properly discuss the right treatment for your pet.

Am I able to help?

The first course of action should be finding the right treatment for your pet, but there are several ways you can make their life more comfortable alongside treatment.

Firstly, ensure they have access to soft and comfortable bedding, well away from cold draughts and hard surfaces. Add layers (like blankets) to offer extra warmth and padding, and if you can, invest in a good-quality bed. Specialist orthopaedic beds will help take pressure off their joints and limbs, moulding to your pet’s shape and supporting them.

Keep active

Gentle and regular exercise will strengthen muscles and encourage blood circulation to joints. Opt for frequent and short activities that your pet can handle, like playing and walking. Try to avoid or limit how often they jump and climb, especially if your pet is older.

Ensure your dog is protected from cold and wet weather with a coat that’s both water-resistant and windproof. These are ideal for winter walks.

Taking note of your pet’s weight and keeping them a healthy size is important, any extra pounds will add strain and cause additional joint discomfort. If they struggle with their weight, try introducing a specialist diet for weight management, or one especially for joint health. Be sure to refer to your vet for further advice.

If your home has wooden floors or harder surfaces, consider carpets and mats to prevent slipping and discomfort when your pet is walking.

Support your pet further by giving them a daily joint supplement that targets areas of concern, such as Seraquin and YuMOVE. By adding a supplement to your pet’s diet, it will soothe stiffness, promote mobility and assist their joint health in the longer term.

In conclusion, sourcing the right treatment for your pet is essential, but the first step is preventative care. A healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of cuddles are a great addition to finding the right solution, and to keep your pet as comfortable as possible.

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