Just like humans, animals can be susceptible to poor joint health. Unlike us, however, communicating that internal pain isn’t as easy for companion animals. While osteoarthritis is common in pets the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce osteoarthritis pain and improve the quality of life of your pet.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also referred to as arthritis, is caused by wear and tear of cartilage and bone of the joints. It is estimated that up to one in five dogs over one year of age are affected, while almost two thirds of cats have osteoarthritis by the age of six. Animals are more likely to develop osteoarthritis with age, but it may occur in younger animals secondary to inherited diseases such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, or trauma, including cruciate ligament injuries.
In dogs, commonly affected breeds include Labradors, Rottweilers, Great Danes, German Shepherd Dogs, and Golden Retrievers.
Read More: INFOGRAPHIC - Osteoarthritis affects dogs of all ages
What can you do?
You may find ways to modify your home to improve the comfort of your pet and reduce further trauma to joints:
- Carpet tiles may prevent arthritic animals from slipping on floorboards or tiles
- Ramps or portable stairs can aid animals climbing into the car or onto the bed
- Litter trays with low sides are more manageable for arthritic cats
Winter hacks to reduce joint pain
With skies greying and the mercury dropping, here are some ways that will help your pet manage the winter months as comfortably as possible.
- Manage their weight
Being overweight, even by a kilo or two, is a huge additional loading on animals’ joints and can really exacerbate pain and arthritis. Make sure you keep your pets as lean as possible through exercise and a good diet.
- Regular exercise
In winter, a lot of us don’t want to go outside for walks because of the cold. But regular gentle exercise keeps joints healthy and moving. Just getting out and being active without pushing dogs to exhaustion is critical in managing arthritis.
- Pain relief
In some animals with really bad arthritis, pain relief during winter is a way of managing their discomfort and keeping them mobile.
- Comfortable bedding
The overnight cold can make joint pain worse and a warm comfy mattress allows your pet to relax while they’re lying down and recuperating. Just remember that you don’t want a high bed or a bed that is difficult for your pet to get in and out of.
- Avoid stairs
Minimising access to stairs where possible for really arthritic dogs can reduce unnecessary trauma. Carry them up and down stairs if they’re small or use ramps around the house. There are also ramps to help get in and out of cars. This helps to reduce trauma when they’re jumping in and out of the car. Anything you can do to reduce trauma will relieve pain and the exacerbation of arthritis.
Glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate and green-lipped mussel have been shown to promote joint health and can reduce the progression of arthritis. These are good to add to the diet and often you can get good results if they are also on pain relief.
Ideally, management of osteoarthritis is holistic, involving a combination of the above approaches to optimise your pet’s comfort. But remember, the most important thing is to keep a close eye on your pet and if you notice any changes in the way they move around, talk to your vet.
WATCH: Dr Katrina Warren explains how Osteoarthritis affects pets
- PAW Osteocare® Joint Health Chews
With Glucosamine Sulfate & Chondroitin Sulfate, these tasty kangaroo chews provide everyday joint care, helping to improve joint function and health in younger and older dogs.
- PAW Osteosupport® Joint Care Powder for Dogs
Commonly dogs requiring nutritional supplementation also require assistance because of age related problems, particularly arthritis. PAW Osteosupport for Dogs is clinically proven, using Perna128® Green Lipped Mussel, to provide fast, effective relief from arthritic symptoms. This highly palatable green lipped mussel powder provides advanced care and comes in an easy to administer measured capsule dose.
- PAW Cosequin® DS
Containing a unique combination of Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Manganese and Vitamin C, which work synergistically to help maintain joint function in dogs.