How to help your pet manage arthritis and joint pain

dog looking at camera

Arthritis can be a challenging condition for pets, particularly in the winter months when cold temperatures and damp weather can exacerbate joint pain and stiffness. However, there are several ways you can help your furry friend feel more comfortable and enjoy a better quality of life.

What is arthritis and how does it affect your pet?

Arthritis is a common condition that affects many pets, particularly as they age. It's caused by inflammation and degeneration of the joints, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

It can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, genetics, injury, and underlying health conditions. In pets, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away over time.

Pets with arthritis may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain or stiffness when moving
  • Difficulty getting up or lying down
  • Limping or favoring one leg over another
  • Reluctance to jump, run, or play
  • Changes in behavior or mood, such as increased irritability or decreased activity
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box

Tips to minimize your pet’s arthritis pain

Maintain a healthy weight for your pet

Your pet's diet can play a significant role in managing arthritis symptoms. If your pet is overweight, the extra pounds can put pressure on their joints and exacerbate the pain.

It’s important to stick to the recommended diet and calorie count, especially as your pet ages. Talk to your vet to learn more about your pet’s ideal weight and create a weight loss or weight management plan.

Keep Your Pet Active

Regular exercise can help improve joint mobility and reduce pain, but it's crucial to avoid high-impact activities that could strain or injure your pet. Instead, focus on gentle exercise, such as short walks or slow, controlled movements that won't put unnecessary stress on your pet's joints.

You can also explore physical therapy options with your vet, like stretching, range of motion exercises, or water exercises.

Modify your home with helpful accommodations

Arthritis and other joint conditions can make it difficult for your pet to move the way they used to, so it’s important to give your pet easy access to food, water, and their favorite spots in your home.

Consider adding ramps to help them navigate stairs or other obstacles more easily, as well as stairs near your couch or bed to help your pet climb. In their favorite lounging spots, add comfortable orthopedic beds to support their joints.

If you have tile or hardwood floors, these can be slippery for your pet, adding additional stress to their joints. To keep your pet safe and comfortable, add nonslip rugs, carpet, or even yoga mats across slippery surfaces.

Keep your pet warm and comfortable

The cold, damp weather can make your pet’s arthritis symptoms worse, so it’s essential to keep them warm in the winter. Provide your pet with a warm, comfortable bed away from any drafty windows, and consider using a heated pet bed or a heating pad to help soothe achy joints.

If you venture outside with your pet, consider using a jacket or sweater to keep your pet warm and dry.

Keep your sidewalk free of snow and ice

Winter comes with inclement weather that can be dangerous for your pet, especially if they have joint pain and mobility issues. Keep your sidewalk as free of snow and ice as possible, and avoid icy or slippery surfaces during your walks that could increase the risk of falls.

Caring for a pet with arthritis can be challenging, but with the right care and attention, you can help them stay comfortable and enjoy a happy, healthy life.

Our Vet Center is here to help

If you think your pet is showing arthritis symptoms or you’re looking for guidance on how best to manage their symptoms, contact our Vet Center staff to schedule an appointment, or call our pet helpline today.