5 Ways to Ease Pet Arthritis in the Winter
“Them bones, them bones…”
If you’re experiencing extended wintery weather like we are in North Texas this year, your pet’s arthritis may be causing more pain than usual. Just as with human arthritis, doctors do not know why the cold causes more pain.
Osteoarthritis appears as a pet gets older, the cartilage in the joints erodes and the bones come in contact with each other. The joints most likely to be affected are the weight bearing joints: those in the pelvis, knees, ankles and spine. Arthritis is a progressive disease without a cure, but often some of the pain can be alleviated. Treatment plans often include a healthy, reduced-calorie diet, therapeutic exercise, massage, and anti-inflammatory medications and/or supplements.
- One of the best things you can do for your dog is to make sure you have him or her on a weight maintenance diet, since extra weight places a lot of extra pressure on the already stressed joints.
- Gentle exercise can be helpful, such as short walks. Dog gyms or dog activity centers are opening up around the country. Check the internet to look for ones in your area. Some have pet indoor swimming pools. This is great exercise for arthritic pets since it takes pressure off the joints.
- There are some medications that may help your dog, depending on the severity of the arthritis. Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid drugs to reduce inflammation. Dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can also provide pain relief.
- Keeping your dog comfortable and warm by providing your dog with a well-padded bed in a warm indoor location or placing a heated blanket (make sure it’s pet safe) in his bed can make all the difference in his outlook. Clothing can also help. Wrap your dog in a specially designed dog sweater, or alter one of your old sweaters or sweatshirts to fit your dog.
- Ask your vet about massage and alternative medicine.
Take good care of your pet’s bones and joints in cold weather, and make him/her happy.
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