Pet owners need to look out for those little signs that their pet might be suffering during winter.

”Older dogs and cats suffer from arthritis just like we do. Large dogs especially, but dogs of all sizes as well as cats can suffer badly from arthritis. We see dogs as young as 4 or 5 with arthritis, especially in certain breeds. Commonly the problems are in the mid to lower back, hips and knees, and sometimes the neck.”

While sometimes the owners might see their pet limping from the arthritis it is more common not to see limping because both or all 4 legs are affected equally. Also because arthritis is often a low grade or long term ”chronic” pain, the animals, like people, don’t complain, they just don’t enjoy life like they used to.

Owners often think their pet is ‘just getting old’ when in fact they could have a few more good years in them if they are managed properly. There are a number of things an owner can do to help their pet that cost little or nothing.

Ensuring your pet has somewhere warm to sleep goes a long way. Providing soft warm bedding and not letting your pet sleep on hard cold surfaces, even though they might choose to will help.

 ”Too many of us hurt our pets with kindness. Excess food, or poor quality food, as well as too many treats causing weight gain make the pain of arthritis a lot worse. If you cannot feel your pet’s ribs easily then put it on a diet. It is the kindest thing you can do. The staff at Wide Bay vet surgery are always happy to give simple nutritional advice. If you are already feeding a good quality diet then the quantity could be the problem. There are special weight reduction foods you can buy to get the process started. Regular exercise is also good but must be modified for each patient’s particular case.”

 Studies of natural remedies such as Glucosamine Sulphate [not Glucosamine Hydrochloride] as well as Chondroitin and fish oil have shown that they may help. More research needs to be done on other natural remedies before they can be confirmed as useful.

”For the more severe cases there are a lot of very good prescription drugs available either as once per day medication or once per month.

There is also a prescription drug called Cartrophen Vet which is a course of 4 injections and usually gives your pet 3 to 12 months relief from a lot of the arthritic pains.”

We urge pet owners to seek professional advice from our vet Dr Peter Gillespie on what is best for their pet.