During cold weather, dogs suffer a lot more with their joint disease. As a vet, winter is when I diagnose most dogs as arthritic and when I see a large number of my patients struggle with their mobility and even experience collapsing episodes.
While we cannot always prevent joint disease, there are things we can do to help manage it when it does affect our dog’s quality of life. Read on to learn how you can help keep your dog healthy and happy when the temperature drops down low.
Most people with chronic osteoarthritis will tell you that they notice changes in their pain levels and stiffness when it gets wet and cold. Some people even find they can predict weather changes as their joints begin to ache.
As the evenings darken and the weather worsens, most find we exercise our dogs less. This can be detrimental to those with arthritis as they will inevitably stiffen up.
It is theorised that a reduction in barometric pressure can create pain in joints and muscle and tendons expand and contract. It is also possible that the nerves are more sensitized to changes in pressure. Finally, cold weather may thicken joint fluid, causing increased pain.
Thankfully, there are many things we can do to support our beloved pets during cold weather.
Even those who don’t suffer with their joints need a little extra support in the winter.
For short-furred and thin-skinned breeds like Whippets and Greyhounds, a winter coat is a must have. They provide much needed insulation as well as a barrier from the rain. When it comes to dogs with thick coats, such as Huskies and Akitas, coats are not needed.
You may have seen some dogs walking around with little winter booties on their feet. These can be useful to prevent snow from getting stuck between toes and from keeping pads warm and dry. They are useful if walking in very harsh weather for long periods of time. For most urban walks, they won’t be needed, as long as we avoid icy paths and keep walks brisk. Leaving booties on for too long can lead to yeast overgrowth and infections as the local ventilation will be limited.
Some owners place a thin layer of Vaseline on their dog’s nose and pads before a walk. This can be useful if they are prone to cracked and dry skin.