By Ashley Watson
As the days get shorter, the weather is getting much colder here in New England, and at Pet Naturals® of Vermont, we know that with cold weather, joint discomfort can become more prevalent in both people and pets. This is mainly due to the increased blood flow to the major organs, which is how the body stays warm; however, this also means that there’s less blood flowing to the limbs, making the joints colder and stiff.
Additionally, joint discomfort can become more pronounced as the body ages or if there have been any broken bones. This applies to pets as much as it does to humans. Many older dogs and cats have a harder time getting exercise outside in cooler weather. Joint health is extremely important for short-haired dogs during the winter since they don’t have as much protection. In this week’s post, we’ll look at ways to support hip and joint health for dogs and cats, including indoor cats. Don’t let the cold weather slow your pet down this winter. Use these tips from Pet Naturals®!
How Colder Weather Affects Joints
If you’ve ever had a broken bone, you may have noticed that the area where the bone was broken may hurt or feel inflamed. In fact, many people with broken bones say that they can “predict” the weather. While scientists still debate over whether or not rainy or damp weather causes discomfort in the joints, it is very possible that the change in barometric pressure can lead to increased pain.
Simply put, barometric pressure is measured by the weight of the atmosphere around the body. Because the barometric pressure drops before the weather changes, there’s less pressure pushing against the body, allowing the tissues to expand. This expansion can put pressure on the joint, which is the reason some people report more discomfort during bad weather. However, it is widely accepted that colder temperatures make it more difficult to deal with hip and joint issues.
Unfortunately with pets, it’s more difficult to tell when they are in pain. While dogs will show physical pain, cats are notorious for hiding injury, pain and illness. With indoor cats, they may have less issues with the cold, but as they age, they may move around less, which can exacerbate any joint issues. This is why it’s important to make sure even older indoor cats get moderate exercise.
Joint Support Tips
While there’s not much you can do to control the weather, there are ways to support bone health during the winter. If you notice more joint discomfort during cooler months, or if your dog or cat has known joint problems, here are a few tips that might help.
- Exercise: It is essential to give your pets as much exercise as possible. While dogs need to go outside a few times a day, indoor cats may need more exercise throughout the day. Indoor cats will play on their own with the right toys and incentive. The Indoor Pet Initiative has a lot of excellent tips on how to give indoor cats exercise. If you have an older dog with joint issues, even going on a short walk once a day can help prevent joint stiffness.
- Dress Warmly: According to the National Institutes of Health, dressing warmly can help ease some of the pain caused by colder weather. This is especially important for pets. Cats usually have enough fur if they are indoor/outdoor cats, but it does help to have a cat door so that they have an opportunity to go inside whenever they need to. Greyhounds and other short-haired dogs need extra layers. Make sure you have a sweater that fits your dog snugly. For extra warmth indoors, put down an extra blanket on the dog bed, especially at night and during the times when you turn your heat down.
- Don’t Overdo It: Even though it is important to give your pet exercise, it’s also important to pace your pet so that you don’t overdo it, especially if your pet recently had an injury or major joint discomfort. For dogs, ask your vet to recommend the right amount of outdoor exercise in the winter. Osteoarthritis is also more difficult to diagnose in cats than in dogs, so make sure you take your cat to the vet for regular visits.
- Hip and Joint Supplements: Hip and joint supplements are designed to offer a strong line of defense during times of cold weather or stress. Pet Naturals® offers supplements for both dogs and cats to support joint health. Whether your goal is to support healthy joint structure and function or to help with flexibility and joint comfort in older or injured pets, it’s important to speak with your vet before giving your pet a new supplement.
Hip + Joint is recommended for pets with an advanced need of joint support and pets predisposed to joint and connective tissue stress. The Pet Naturals® joint support supplements are unique because they are available in a tasty chew for easy delivery. Each chew or tablet contains a combination of glucosamine, MSM and Chondroitin to meet the needs of your specific pet.
How do support your pet’s hip and joint health during cold weather? Join the conversation on our Facebook page!