Winter Joint Care

As we move into winter our older pets can start to show signs of arthritis such as stiffness after rest, difficulty rising, reluctance to jump, lower activity levels and moaning or vocalising as they lie down or get up. Osteoarthritis is very common in both dogs and cats as they age and something that we see frequently at The Vet Centre. The drop in temperature during the cooler months often results in worsening of arthritic signs in our pets and is often the prompt for owners to bring their pets in to see us.

If your pet is showing any of the above signs then we would recommend booking a consult with one of our veterinarians. They will assess for any signs of osteoarthritis
and discuss the options available for confirmation of the diagnosis and the best treatment options for your pet. X-rays can be taken if needed to confirm the diagnosis and identify the location and extent of any osteoarthritic changes. Blood testing is also commonly performed prior to starting any medications.

Pets with mild, early osteoarthritis may only need some lifestyle modifications to improve their symptoms, such as keeping your pet at their optimal weight, ensuring regular, controlled and moderate exercise (e.g. leash walks) and provision of a soft, warm and dry bed. Some pets will also benefit from a warm coat and for cats a litter tray can be
provided to avoid them having to go out to toilet if they prefer not to.

Pets with mild osteoarthritis can also benefit from dietary supplementation. This can be done either by adding in a dietary supplement (nutraceutical) or by changing to a prescription veterinary joint diet which also contains joint supplements and anti-inflammatory, essential fatty acids. Some dogs also respond well to in-clinic injections of joint supplements, which are given at regular intervals.

Those pets with moderate or advanced osteoarthritis will be experiencing pain and will require some form of pain management. There are a number of medications available which are licensed and have been tested as safe to use in our pets to help reduce the inflammation and pain caused by osteoarthritis. Please don’t give human pain medication to your pets as this can be unsafe and even toxic to your pet.

Our pets are very good at disguising pain and as the changes can occur slowly over time, they are often mistaken for just slowing down due to ageing. Arthritis can be very debilitating for our pets and we can see big improvements in their demeanour and comfort with a few lifestyle modifications and the addition of some pain relief.

If you have concerns about your pet then please
book a consult for a veterinary exam.