When the weather is cold, keeping your dog warm becomes a priority. (Click here to watch our footage on Channel 7 news about keeping your pups warm) Cold weather can lead to a variety of health problems in dogs, including arthritis. Many breeds are prone to arthritis as they age, but keeping your pet healthy and active throughout the year will help reduce their risk of developing arthritis later on.
Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs but it can also develop in younger dogs as well. It affects the joints of dogs and most commonly occurs in the hips and knees, resulting in stiffened joints and an overall loss of mobility, and can often be quite painful.
The best way to stay ahead of any potential problems is by preventing them with the right care and precautions. Keeping your dog warm in winter and reducing their risk of developing arthritis will keep them happy, healthy and active for many years to come.
Here are a few tips to help minimise the chances of your dog developing arthritis and reducing the stress on their joints during the winter season.
1.Keep Activities Short but Frequent
Keeping an older dog active can help them stay healthy, but it’s important to keep in mind that as they get older their bodies have a harder time recovering from strenuous activity. Things like jumping, running, and playing fetch can put a lot of stress on your dog’s joints, which is especially risky for older dogs. Avoid long walks on cold days and keep playtime indoors to minimise the risk of your pet overdoing it and developing joint pain or injury. If your dog is slowing down on walks, you might want to consider switching to a harness instead of a leash to help reduce stress on their joints as well.
There are other activities you can do indoors with a dog that won’t increase their risk of injury or strain on their joints. Doggy yoga, for example, is a great way to help your pet stay active and engaged during cold weather. There are also plenty of toys and games you can play indoors that are great for keeping your dog’s mind active.
2. Give Them a Warm Place to Sleep
Dogs can’t control their body temperature as well as humans can, so they often need a warm place to sleep where they can regulate their body temperature safely. A dog bed, cot, or another similar item that has a warm, waterproof covering is a great choice. You can put a thick blanket or cushion inside the bed to help them stay warm in their sleep. If you have more than one pet, it’s important to have a bed or space for them to sleep on their own so they don’t have to compete with each other for warmth.
If you have a dog with arthritis, it’s important to give them a warm, padded place to sleep because cold weather can worsen their symptoms. You might also want to consider getting a heated dog bed or putting a heat pack inside their bed for added comfort.
3. Provide Quality Nutrition
As your dog ages, it’s especially important to make sure they’re eating a high-quality diet that is rich in nutrients. Veterinary nutritionists recommend feeding senior dogs food with a minimum of 20% protein, less than 5% fat, no more than 2% fibre, and no more than 0.8% calcium. These foods also have fewer calories so your pet doesn’t gain weight as they get older. Overweight dogs are more likely to develop arthritis, so making sure your pet stays lean is essential. Also ensure you offer your dog plenty of water, as this is important for their overall health, as well as preventing illnesses and dehydration.
4. Get Good Quality Coats and Blankets for Dogs
A dog coat or blanket is a great way to keep your pet comfortable without much effort on your part. These items are designed to keep your dog warm without adding too much bulk or weighing them down.
Choose a winter coat and one that is easy to take on and off or put on over gear like leashes and harnesses. You may even want to invest in a doggy raincoat to protect them from the rain, wind and cold during winter walks.
Keeping your dog warm in winter is important for their health and safety. If your pet is showing signs of joint pain or discomfort, talk to your veterinarian about different types of treatment options. There are several ways you can prevent arthritis in dogs, including keeping them active and healthy while making sure they stay warm and comfortable in the cooler months.