At this time of the year, vets see more patients suffering from arthritis and stiffness. The colder weather makes it that much more uncomfortable…. If you think your pet may already have arthritis, have a read of this post: Does Spot Need A Walking Stick? What we’ll be looking at here is how to keep your pet’s joints healthy and functioning well for as long as possible.
Feeding your pet high quality food with all the nutrients in the correct ratios ensures she has the best building blocks for healthy cartilage, bone and muscle development and growth. The first 12 months are especially important. Feeding the best food you can to your puppy or kitten means that their bones and joints are more likely to grow and develop normally, reducing the likelihood of them developing conditions like elbow and hip dysplasia. If you are unsure or need some advice, discuss foods and feeding routines with your vet so that you are able to make an informed decision.
Feeding the correct amount of food is just as important as the quality of food since puppies or kittens that are overfed put extra strain on their developing joints and that in itself is enough to predispose them to dysplasia too. Older dogs that are not as active as they used to be should have their food reduced to help them stay in their healthy weight range. But how do you know what a healthy weight is for your pet?
Within breeds the weight range can vary considerably, so the best way to know is by doing some easy observations:
- Can you see a waist when you look at your pet from above and from the side? If you can’t they may be over weight.
- When you look at your pet’s chest, can you see his ribs? If you can, he may be underweight.
- When you stroke your pet over the chest area, can you feel their ribs easily or are they hiding under a fatty cushion? If you can’t, it’s probably time to get some advice on getting their weight down a little.
If your pet does need to lose a bit of weight, get hold of your vet to help you with a plan that will help you to help your buddy.
Moderate exercise for healthy dogs and cats is very important in maintaining their joint and mental health. Walks or gentle runs for healthy dogs are great. Just be sure not to overdo it and definitely do not start running dogs until they are at least a year old. Swimming is another excellent way to exercise your dog without putting strain on his joints.
Cats also need exercise! Sometimes we need to be a little more creative since there aren’t many kitties that are happy to go for walks on a lead. Playing ball, catch-a-feather or chase-a-ribbon are all good ways of getting cats to be more active. Some cats really enjoy playing in little fabric tunnels or chasing torch lights.
Small furries benefit from exercise wheels, but providing a maze of little tunnels provides them with new areas to explore and investigate.
As pets age and before they show over signs of arthritis, you may want to consider supplementing their diet with joint supplements to aid in keeping their joints healthy: Omega 3, Chondroitin, Glucosamine etc. If this is something you may like to consider then speak to your vet. She will provide you with the correct dose for your pet and insight into which supplement may be most beneficial.
If you’d like to help your pet stay active and enjoying life, give us a call 0481527678 to book an appointment and get some advice on what you can do now to help her later!