Taking care of your senior pet and their joints
As our pets enter their later years of life, they may need a little extra TLC as their joints start to deteriorate from wear and tear over the years.
Just like humans, our pets can suffer from stiff joints later in life and you may hear the term arthritis used to describe this condition. Although your pet may be slowing down, supportive treatments are available to help slow the degeneration of their joints, as well as products to keep them comfortable and stay active in their later years.
Know the signs
It is important to know what signs may indicate arthritis to act early. Common signs can include limping, walking more slowly, struggling to climb up stairs, reluctance to jump on the sofa or swollen joints.
Remember arthritis can be painful, and by noticing these signs early our vets can suggest ways to help your pet manage the condition as well as therapies or medications if needed.
Do they need a checkup?
There are other reasons our pets may be slowing down and getting stiff joints, so it is best to get them checked over by your veterinary surgeon if you notice any changes in their behaviour.
If your pet is diagnosed with arthritis, your veterinary surgeon will help tailor a plan for your pet’s needs and discuss treatments or other management to help keep them comfortable.
Supplements are an excellent preventative in the early stages of the disease. They contain ingredients that help sooth stiff joints and keeping them healthy.
Keep your pet moving
If your pet is slowing down in their later life, it may be tempting to give them a rest and not exercise them. This does not help their joints and can cause further issues – the less they keep their joints moving, the stiffer their joints get.
You may need to adapt your exercise routine a little, for example shorter walks on a more frequent basis or shorter play sessions, but it is important to keep them moving.
Exercise other than walking can be great for arthritic joints – for example swimming, as it puts less pressure on the joints but allows your pet to keep moving.
Keep an eye on their weight
If a pet is over their recommended weight, the extra they are carrying will put additional pressure on their joints so it is important to make sure they are a healthy weight. Make sure you feed the right amount of food for their weight – you will need to tailor this to your individual pet and make sure they stay active to prevent excess weight building up.
You could also consider a food tailored for pets to improve joint care – our team will be able to assist if you have any queries on what is best to feed your pet.
Keep them comfy
When your pet does need their down time, it is important to make sure they have a warm and cozy space to snuggle down with a soft, padded bed to help protect their joints. Hard floors will be painful, and colder spaces will also contribute to their joint discomfort.
If your pet is in the later stage of the disease, they may benefit from a special orthopedic bed to help take extra pressure off the affected joints.
Consider adaptions around the house
Your may need to consider changes within your household or routine to help your pet in their senior years.
Floors – Think about the flooring around your home. Laminate and tiled floors will be more slippery and difficult for your pet to get up and walk around – consider adding non slip rugs or carpet runners around your home to help, or try to keep your pet within areas that are already carpeted.
Toileting – As well as struggling with joint issues in later life, older pets may be unable to hold their bladder for a long as they use to. It is important to give them plenty of opportunities to go outside, or consider adding more litter trays around the house.
Getting up and down – Older pets will struggle with actions that used to be a breeze when they were younger. Watch them move around the house and if you notice them struggle with something, think how to can make a change to help them. This could be as simple as helping them on and off furniture or with access to areas such as window sills where they are unable to make the jump by making a ramp.
Stairs – Older pets may struggle with going up and down the stairs so you may need to consider preventing access up the stairs, or put in a stairgate to prevent them having an accident.