Yes, the cold weather does affect your dogs’ joints particularly if they suffer from arthritis because, as the temperature drops, it can cause the muscles surrounding the joints to stiffen. Most pet owners with arthritis are familiar with the phenomenon of stiffer joints and increased pain once winter sets in and our pets who suffer from the same disease have the same reaction.
So what can you do to help your dogs during the cold months of the year? Here are a few ideas you could try to help your dogs’ mobility and decrease their pain:
Moving: Your dogs might not want to move because they feel stiff, however, by getting them up and making them move around it will warm up their muscles and reduce stiffness in their joints. Exercise is important so try and aim to go out for a walk at least once a day in spite of the cold weather. If it is too cold outside then encourage low impact play around the house or walk around inside the house with them.
Heating blanket: Before they go to sleep at night try and warm up their blanket or move their bed closer to the radiator or fire. The extra warmth may encourage your dogs to get up and move around in the morning.
Joint supplements: Always speak to your vet first but a joint supplement could improve their joint health especially over the winter months. Joint supplements are designed to improve mobility and support joint tissue, which can reduce pain. It is simple and easy to add it to the daily routine and may provide an added level of comfort.
Massage: Seek out a pet massage professional in your area or do some research on how to properly administer gentle massages at home so you can give your pet a little extra love when they are in pain.
Winter can be tough on our pets so it is important to watch for changes in their movement and behaviour. Winter also happens to be when most vets diagnose dogs with arthritis as they see their dog patients struggle with their mobility. It is also worth considering that those dogs who do not suffer with joint issues could need a little extra support during the cold period. Providing a well padded bed in a warm indoor location can make all the difference to their well being.
If you own a dog that has thin-skin or short-fur like a Whippet, a winter coat might be required. They provide much needed insulation as well as a barrier from the wind. Dog winter booties can help keep the paws warm and dry but make sure you limit the time you leave them on as if you leave them on too long it can lead to infections.
Always try to keep your dogs’ weight under control because the extra weight places a lot of stress on the already sore joints.
If you have any questions about how you can help your dog get the most out of the winter months your local veterinarian will be able to help.