Vet Explains How Cold Weather Worsens Your Dogs Arthritis


The UK is set to experience freezing temperatures and snow across the country this week, and much like us humans our canine companion’s joint health and mobility can be negatively impacted by a sudden drop in temperature.

With arthritis affecting 80% of dogs aged 8 or over, and almost 35% of the entire dog population (due to such factors as wear and tear, breed predisposition, genetics, weight, previous injuries, and overall joint health), dog owners must have a clear appreciation of the impact that cold weather can have on their pets bones and joints.

To help with this, Sean McCormack, Head Vet at dog food subscription service has provided insight into why cold weather can worsen arthritis pain in dogs, and how to keep them as comfortable as possible this winter:

Why does the cold weather make my dog’s arthritis worse?

Decreased joint fluid

Cold weather can decrease your dog’s joint fluid viscosity by increasing the thickness of the synovial fluid. Thicker fluid can make joint movement more challenging, and increase the sensation of tightness for your four-legged friend.

Reduced blood flow

During low temperatures, your dog’s blood vessels constrict to conserve body heat. This reduced blood flow around your dog’s body can cause joint stiffness and discomfort, and increase inflammation. 

Tightened muscles

In cold temperatures, your dog’s muscles will contract and tighten, as a natural response to preserve body heat. This can lead to increased stiffness for your canine companion and add additional strain to their already compromised joints. 

Reduced movement

Your canine companion may be less inclined to want to go out for a walk or exercise in cold weather. Whether your dog simply hates the rain or just likes to take things a little slower on winter walks –  this reduced activity can lead to stiffness and decreased joint mobility.

Cramped positions

If your dog’s home environment is cold and they can’t seem to get comfortable and cosy, your dog might curl up into cramped positions or squeeze their body into small spaces to get warm, which can put extra pressure on arthritic joints.

Increased shivering

The autumn/winter months mean that your dog will be exposed to colder weather when out on your daily walks, and this might lead to increased shivering for your four-legged friend. This increase in shivering can lead to muscle tension and potential inflammation around your dog’s arthritic joints. How to keep your arthritic dog warm and comfortable

A warm environment

To keep a dog living with arthritis comfortable, it’s important to keep your dog warm when they are resting and relaxing at home, such as providing extra blankets, as higher temperatures will prevent your dog from experiencing any stiffness or discomfort brought on by the cold.

A comfortable, cosy bed

A well-padded and insulated bed will allow your dog to rest comfortably without any pressure on their joints and bones, and ensure they are snuggled up and cosy for a good night’s sleep.

Low-impact exercises

It’s important to keep your dog active to prevent their muscles and joints from seizing up and mobility being reduced.. You can do this by taking your dogs for short walks or encouraging gentle indoor or outdoor exercise, to help maintain joint flexibility.

Warm walking attire

When you’re wrapping yourself up warm for a cold wintery walk with your dog, don’t forget about their extra layers too. Whilst dogs have a natural coat to protect them from the elements, those with arthritis are better off wearing an extra layer of protection from the cold, like a waterproof jacket or an all-in-one suit like an Equafleece.

Regular massages

As cold weather can cause your dog’s joints to become stiff, you can regularly massage your canine companion’s muscles, to help improve blood circulation and alleviate any tension in their body.

A healthy diet

Providing your dog with a nutritious diet that includes essential vitamins and supplements to support joint health can be beneficial to minimise the symptoms of arthritis.

Regular vet checkups

Most importantly, keep up to date with your dog’s veterinary check-ups to monitor the progression of their arthritis and accompanying symptoms. This way, you can discuss any necessary adjustments to their treatment plan or medication

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