Many people with arthritis will attest that they feel more pain and stiffness during the colder months of the year and it is a condition which can affect our four-legged friends too. As we approach winter, it’s a great opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the symptoms of arthritis in dogs so that we can ensure they remain comfortable throughout the season.
What are some of the signs your dog may have arthritis?
- Reluctance to walk, climb stairs, jump or play
- Lagging behind on walks
- Pain or stiffness when getting up or down
- A change in personality (aggression when normally good-natured)
- Licking of the affected joints
What is arthritis?
Arthritis simply means ‘inflammation of the joints’ and is a problem more commonly seen in older dogs.
When cartilage in your dog’s joints begins to erode over time, or when it becomes damaged due to an injury to the joint, the bones in the joint come into direct contact with each other, eventually resulting in the erosion and further damage to the bone.
The increased friction around the joint makes the joint stiffer, which limits its movement and ultimately results in an uncomfortable sensation and pain.
Although arthritis is a progressive disease without a cure, there are measures that you can take to ensure your dog remains comfortable, especially when the temperature outside drops.
Manage your dog’s weight
Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is important for any dog owner, however, for a dog that suffers from arthritis it’s crucial because excess weight places a lot of extra pressure on their already stressed joints.
By feeding your dog a high quality, low-calorie, low-fat diet you’ll help your pooch shed those excess pounds and keep them off for good.
But, before you make any drastic food changes, we’d recommend speaking to one of our experienced vets or nurses to ensure that your dog will still be receiving all the essential nutrients they need in their diet.
Keep them warm
As the temperature begins to drop and the frost creeps in, it’s important to be aware that if you’re cold, chances are that your dog is too! If you feel chilly by the door without a coat on, it may be best to pop a well-fitted, extra layer on your pooch before heading out.
Although our dogs usually have a layer of thick fur to protect them from the cold weather, most dogs will require an additional layer to keep warm. Also bear in mind that short-haired dogs and those shorter in stature are likely to be the most susceptible to the colder weather.
Create a place for them to rest
We all like to snuggle up on the sofa when it’s cold outside! Creating a safe space for your dog to keep warm indoors will go miles in helping them to remain comfortable.
Be sure to place their bed in a warm spot in your home, away from any drafts or damp areas, and consider padding it out with extra, soft bedding.
Keep them active!
Arthritic dogs struggle to go for those long walks they used to enjoy when they were younger. It is best to take them on short little walks a few times a day to keep the joints mobile and from getting too stiff.
It also means that they are not out in the cold for long periods of time!
Indoor games and activities also help keep your dog entertained and active, consider teaching your dog some basic nose work, and even trying short, gentle sessions of fetch.
Consider medications and supplements
Unfortunately, as arthritis is progressive, there will still be days that your dog shows discomfort, and you’re likely to see an increase of these days during the colder seasons.
If you notice a worsening of symptoms or are concerned about your dog, we’d recommend speaking to one of our knowledgeable vets about pain management options and finding a medication that works for your dog.
You’re able to tell us in-depth about your concerns for your dog, give us a full history of your dog’s symptoms and we can help you come up with a pain management plan bespoke to your dog.
The internet is a wash with supplements and medications for arthritis in dogs but we strongly recommend that you obtain any medications from the vets. Like when we take supplements, we should know exactly what our pets are taking and that the dosing is correct for them.
Laser therapy for Arthritis
Laser therapy is a relatively new method of helping dogs with arthritis. The laser has many benefits that relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. It is not a cure but when used in conjunction with the other things mentioned in this article it has been shown to help lots of dogs.
London road vets has a laser system, feel free to contact for more information.
If you would like to book an appointment for your dog to discuss medications, supplements or laser therapy to help make them more comfortable this winter, please give us a call:
Tiptree Veterinary Centre – 01621 818282
London Road Veterinary Centre – 01206 544918