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Protecting Your Pet's Joints in Cold Weather

With the cold seasons fast-approaching, it's important to be extra vigilant when keeping your pet's joints healthy. Heavy dogs and elderly dogs are especially prone to needing maximum joint support; however, cats are not immune to developing these problems as well. These issues may seem to be a simple matter of comfort and convenience, but they can significantly impact your petís overall health.

Joint pain is usually associated with the cold weather. Many people believe that itís the cold temperatures that cause this pain- although research points to a different culprit. In actuality, the correlation between cold weather and joint pain also parallel drops in barometric pressure. These decreases in air pressure cause a microscopic expansion of tissues that may cause an increase in occasional soreness or stiffness.

This means that the pain of cold weather is no myth- though it is just a bit misinformed. So if dog sweaters and blankets aren't sufficient to prevent the weather from weathering their joints- what methods can you take to ensure that your dog remains healthy and mobile? We've compiled this list of tips to help protect your pet's joints in the rapidly approaching autumn and winter seasons.

Reduce Impact

One of the best ways to protect joints is to reduce the impact placed on joints. This can be done in numerous ways, including reducing the weight of your pet and the intensity of their exercise habits. Though swimming is idyllic for pets that need a low-impact way of exercising, itís hard to find a body of water available for exercise during the colder seasons. To compensate, you can help your pet exercises indoors with interactive toys or a treadmill for pets.

If your pet is too large for an indoor treadmill, there are a variety of other ways to reduce impact on healthy joints. For healthy pets, simply walking instead of running can greatly increase the longevity of your petís knees and hips. However, for arthritic pets, it can prove much more difficult to minimize impact in the cold weather when the ground is firm and icy.

For pet owners with multi-level homes, it can be useful to provide a safe space for arthritic pets on a single story to reduce the additional stress caused by traveling upstairs. For those with pets that are not yet arthritic, ramps and comfortable stair padding can still decrease the stress caused by traversing up and down steps thereby prolonging the longevity of their joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis and Hip Dysplasia

To determine what supplements and treatments are right for your pet, itís important to identify the condition of your petís joints. Many of the symptoms of early-stage arthritis are subtle and can be easily overlooked; however, this is the best time to begin preventative treatment before irreversible damage is done. Symptoms of degenerative joint disease in pets include a limp, reluctance to get up or lie down, sore back or neck, lethargy, irritability, muscle atrophy, or irritation in the knees or hips.

Pets with more severe cases of arthritis will be very slow to get up and will generally display more obvious symptoms of pain. For pets with severe cases of arthritis, it may be necessary to seek treatment in the form of surgery or physical therapy. There are actually several types of surgery available to pets depending on their needs; the same can be said for different types of therapies.

Treating Joint Disorders

Hip dysplasia is generally treated with any of three common surgical procedures that each features its own advantages: triple pelvic osteotomy, femoral head osectomy, and total hip replacement. Three common procedures for cruciate ligament tears include a tibial plateau leveling osteomoty and a treatment with rising popularity: tibial tuberiosity advancement. All in all, surgical procedures should be researched in depth before you elect which is the right choice for your pet.

While researching surgical procedures, you will also likely encounter a variety of therapies designed to reduce the pain and inflammation affecting your petís joints. These therapies include acupuncture, chiropractics, laser therapy, and stem cell therapy. There are also a variety of prescription strength medications that work to reduce pain, restore cartilage and absorb joint destroying free radicals. All in all, we recommend you discuss these options with your veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet and what you can expect as your pet undergoes these treatments.

We hope this guide has provided useful information to help keep your pet happy and healthy. Leave a comment below to let us know if this article helped you care for your pet or if thereís any information we forgot to include. For more information on therapies, medications, supplements, and additional supplies to treat your arthritic pet, check out the link below:

  • Pet Arthritis