As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, many are preparing for the joy and camaraderie of the holiday season. For most of us, the season conjures beloved memories of the smell of rain and the warmth of a well-built fire. But for many, the change in temperature brings only pain, as the sudden change of weather causes flares of inflammation, exacerbating symptoms of arthritis and similar degenerative disorders.
Pressure changes that lead to weather changes can cause your pet to feel considerable pain if he suffers from arthritis or hip dysplasia. But you don’t have to let your pet suffer silently; there is a wide array of treatments available to help relieve pain and inflammation in arthritic pets.
Signs of Arthritis in Pets
When the weather gets cold, be sure to watch your pets for signs of arthritis. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from one or more of the following, there are great products to help reduce your pet’s pain and prevent further joint deterioration.
- Lagging behind on walks
- Limping or appearing stiff after activity
- Reluctant to climb steps or jump
- Slow to rise after resting
Glucosamine is the major sugar found in glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and hyaluronate, which act as building blocks in the synthesis and maintenance of joint cartilage. It also helps to improve cartilage metabolism and to upregulate proteoglycan synthesis. Chondroitin is the predominant GAG found in articular cartilage, the cartilage that coats the bone. Chondroitin also inhibits enzymes that cause inflammation in the joint. These active ingredients essentially help to aid in the reconstruction and lubrication of joints.
Glucosamine and chondroitin products generally take at least six weeks to begin to heal the cartilage, and most animals need continued supplementation for the rest of their lives to prevent further cartilage breakdown. These products are very safe and seldom cause side effects. There are many different glucosamine/chondroitin products on the market, but the best results are from those that contain pure, human-grade quality ingredients.
Weight management is a major factor in the prevention and treatment of joint disease. Helping a pet lose excess weight will ease the stress placed on worn joints and alleviate joint pain. There are supplements, treats, and food formulas that are specially formulated to help your pet lose weight. Weight management starts with feeding your dog a lower calorie diet and limiting snacks. If you do feed snacks, be sure to choose a low calorie option! Another important aspect is exercise. This is one of the healthiest ways you can help manage your pet's weight.
Exercise is the next important step as it can not only help with weight loss, but also improve range of motion and help build muscles to limit wear and tear on joints. Walking, swimming, and exercising a full range of motion are all excellent low-impact exercises. Whichever activity you choose for your pet, it should be kept to a minimum, and your pet should warm up and warm down before and after the exercise. Swimming is okay for extended periods of time and is highly recommended in extreme cases. For water play, check out Otis & Claude toys, they are durable, buoyant and great for exercising.
Warmth and Comfort
Most people with arthritis find that its symptoms tend to worsen in cold, damp weather. Keeping your arthritic pet warm may help him be more comfortable. Canine Parkas will help keep joints warmer. Beds with orthopedic foam such as Thermal Dog Cushion and Canine Cooler Bed distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on joints. They are also much easier for the pet to get out of. Ramps can be used to aid your pet if it normally stairs to climb, increasing comfort throughout the home.