Home » How to Ease Arthritis Pain in Dogs in Cooler Weather

How to Ease Arthritis Pain in Dogs in Cooler Weather

by Victor

As canine companions age, their joyful run changes into a stiff walk. They can no longer jump onto their favorite chair. They also avoid chasing balls. If your fido exhibits these signs, it is entering its golden years.

One common condition that affects dogs in their golden years is arthritis. According to the Morris Animal Foundation, this progressive condition affects around 14 million adult dogs. However, dogs start showing signs of arthritis as early as one year of their lives. About 20% of dogs above one year of age have osteoarthritis, reveals research.

Decreased activity level, lameness or limping while walking, and reluctance to play or exercise are signs of arthritis in dogs. Canines with arthritis need special care in winter because the colder months stiffen their joints, affecting their mobility.

Learn how you can ease your fido’s arthritis pain this winter and make the season a little easy on it.

How Does Cold Weather Affect a Dog’s Joint?

Cold weather causes a great deal of discomfort in the joints of dogs. Animal experts and veterinarians are yet to figure out what wreaks havoc on their joints in the winter season. However, they have figured out a few factors that could contribute to winter joint pain, and they are as follows:

1. Joint Fluid Thickening

The fluid inside the joints of dogs, known as synovial fluid, lubricates the joint and minimizes friction between articular cartilages during movement. When the temperature drops, this joint fluid thickens and doesn’t flow as freely as it does otherwise. This stiffens the joints, resulting in pain.

2. Decreased Activity Levels

It’s hard for dogs to stay active during winter. In places where the temperature drops below freezing, pet parents have to halt walking their fidos. Playtime is also reduced to a great extent. This decrease in activity levels makes joints stiff, worsening pain and discomfort.

3. Changes in Barometric Pressure

In winter, the barometric pressure, i.e., the air pressure, drops. Low barometric pressure irritates sensitive nerves and causes tissues to swell in dogs, like humans. This triggers joint aches in them.

Tips to Manage Arthritis in Dogs in Winter

Here are a couple of things you can do to manage arthritis in dogs in cold weather:

1. Watch Your Fido’s Weight

As the days become shorter, your fur baby’s brain sends hormonal signals, which cause changes in its metabolism. As such, it is triggered to eat more than usual. While this increase in calorie intake compensates for the amount of calories lost due to shivering, it results in fat accumulation.

This accumulated fat puts excessive strain on your fur baby’s joints. Weight management can minimize the pressure on your canine’s joints, alleviating pain and slowing the progression of arthritis.

Exercising your dog daily can help with obesity and reduce their weight. Playing fetch, hide and seek, and scattering treats throughout the home are a few ways to keep your canine active in winter.

2. Ask Your Veterinarian About Pain Medicines

Especially if you have a senior dog, you will need medicines to lessen arthritis pain.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are the first line of defense in treating arthritis pain in dogs. That’s mainly due to the high level of evidence available on their effectiveness.

Metacam (Meloxicam) oral suspension helps alleviate pain, improving the overall mobility of dogs. Another prescription NSAID that is thought to be effective in controlling the symptoms of arthritis is Rimadyl chewable tablets.

Recent NIH research reveals that grapiprant (Galliprant) has been approved for treating pain and inflammation linked with osteoarthritis in canines. However, PetRx advises pet parents against using this medicine if their dog weighs below 8 lbs or is hypersensitive to grapiprant.

Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asserts that NSAIDs must be given to canines at the lowest dose possible. That’s because an overdose can lead to liver damage.

We advise you to get in touch with a veterinarian to know the safest dose of whichever pet meds you decide to buy for your fur baby. In case you think you need to increase the dose of NSAID, discuss with your veterinarian to be on the safe side.

3. Invest in Comfortable Bedding

While comfortable bedding is a must for every dog, it is more so if your fur baby has arthritis.

Your best bet will be to invest in an orthopedic bed. This type of bed provides superior support and comfort, targeting arthritis and other common canine issues. Orthopedic beds usually feature memory foam that adapts to the body shape of fidos, alleviating pressure points.

Data from a study by The University of Pennsylvania shows that using orthopedic beds significantly alleviates pain and joint stiffness in dogs. Pet parents who used them noticed considerable improvements in their fur babies’ joint function, energy levels, and quality of life. 

Managing Arthritis in Canines: The Takeaway

Canine arthritis is a life-long illness that becomes severe over time. Currently, there is no cure for this condition, but through careful management, you can help your fido lead a happy and comfortable life.

Physical therapy is helpful in relieving arthritis symptoms in dogs, so you can try it. Also, take your fur baby on short walks multiple times daily to keep its joints lubricated. You can also make its bedding comfortable by placing a heating pad on it. Just make sure to keep it on the lowest setting.

Making these minor modifications will make a world of difference in your furry companion’s life.

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