Winter care for your pets

The cold weather can be a challenge for everyone but it can have a dramatic effect on the older cat and dog

Arthritis and the pain associated with it will be worse during the cold weather. Approximately 30-40% of older dogs and 60-70% of older cats suffer with arthritis. Often it is difficult to tell when our pets are suffering from this condition as they don't tend to cry out in pain. Signs that your pet is suffering include reduced willingness to exercise or jump, sleeping more, limping, loss of appetite, and messing indoors (especially cats who will stop using the litter tray if is too difficult to get into).

There are a number of things that can be done to help

Regular exercise - this is more applicable to dogs. Try to keep the daily routine the same and more frequent but shorter periods of exercise are more helpful. Try not having days with no exercise or days with very long walks.

Weight - keeping your pet trim and healthy will help to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis

Joint supplements - there are number of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements that will help. We would advise speaking to a veterinary surgeon to find the most appropriate supplement for your pet.

Anti-inflammatory medications - in some cases these will be required. These must be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. So contact your vet for a physical examination and to discuss whether these are required for your pet.

Some modifications around the house may help as well. For dogs, ramps can make getting in and out of the house or car easier. Raised feeding bowls for larger dogs may reduce pain when eating. Cats may need some help to jump into higher places and lower sided litter trays will make toileting easier. Warm and soft beds make sleeping more comfortable.