It’s winter time again, and with the cold temperature comes increased joint pain and stiffness for many pets with arthritis. Of course, winter doesn’t have to be a painful time of year for your furry friend. A bit of preparation and planning can help your pet get through the season without too much trouble.
Speak with your vet before the temperature drops to determine what supplements or medications will be most helpful to your dog or cat this winter. The sooner you start treating your animal, the more protected he’ll be from the cold.
- Start a weight control program for your pet if he’s overweight or obese. While it might seem like that extra layer of padding will benefit him this winter, the unnecessary weight strains his joints. This increases his joint pain and puts him at risk for numerous other problems, including heart disease. Speak with your vet about changing to a low-calorie pet food, cut back on treats, and find safe ways to incorporate exercise into your pet’s daily routine.
- Begin supplementation with a quality joint product that contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and other beneficial ingredients. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may also help ease your pet’s joint pain and protect against future joint damage. Consult your vet before beginning any new supplement.
- Provide your cat or dog with a well-padded, properly sized bed. Make sure the bed is located in a warm location inside your home, away from drafts and other hazards. Heated beds are also available, and your pet may benefit from one of these. If your cat or dog goes outside a lot during the winter, consider a sweater or booties to help him retain body heat.
- Install a ramp leading into your house if your pet can’t comfortably climb the stairs, and help him onto your lap or furniture, when necessary. Lowering or raising his food and water bowl may also help. Also, if your kitty is having trouble getting in and out of her litter box, look for one with a low side for easy access.
- Don’t hesitate to medicate your kitty or pooch if it becomes necessary. Pain relievers and other meds can make a huge difference in how your pet feels this winter. If your pet hurts too much to move around, or if his diet or sleep is negatively affected by his joint pain, it’s time to medicate. Ask your vet what drugs may help your pet.
- Consider alternative therapies if your dog’s joint pain and stiffness are interfering with his mobility or reducing his quality of life. Some pet guardians have had success with acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, and hydrotherapy. Unless you’ve had training in these therapies, leave them to the professionals. Your vet or a local animal shelter may be able to recommend a good therapist for your pet.