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Winter is almost upon us and for our older dogs and those with injuries and or arthritis this can be a difficult time. Cold damp weather can trigger an acute inflammatory response causing pain and lameness. However it is important to stress that low pressure (low pressure systems) can also affect the joints just as much as cold temperatures and the wet. Similarly many clients with arthritis themselves can feel the affects on their own joints when it is either cold/wet/low pressure or a combination of these.


Reduced use of the affected limb results in muscle loss and in doing so more pressure is exerted on the affected limb and also more compensatory actions on other limbs and areas of the body. So what can be done in such weather conditions?

Firstly look outside and see what the weather is doing. If you have a close friend or family member with arthritis ask them how they are feeling today. If the conditions are bad or you friend feels sore, keep your pet warm and dry. If you need to take them for a walk keep the walks nice and slow and short (no more than 10-15mins) which allows them to stretch their legs but stops them from getting a chill in their joints. Unlike us our pets cannot get into a bath after a walk to soothe aching joints.

The use of heat packs can help soothe achy joints, however at the start of an acute flare up a cold pack can be very beneficial (always wrap the heat/ice pack in a tea towel to prevent hot and cold burns). Massage and stretching can be of enormous benefit. Combined with physiotherapy is the use of hydrotherapy. The water is warm in a hydropool typically 27 degrees centigrade as compared to a canal or lake, which get close to freezing. Hydrotherapy is an effective way to stretch muscle and tighten joints. By increasing the movement of the joints and stretching tight muscles the stride length the dog takes increases. By increasing stride length you will increase the amount of muscle on the limb. More muscle gives extra support and strength to the limb as well as acting as a shock absorber for the joints. Overall this will help your dog feel more comfortable.

At WitsEnd this is our expertise and appointments can be booked with our veterinary physiotherapist Dr Shahad Mohammed. Shahad has 8 years of physiotherapy experience and 12 years of hydrotherapy experience and is registered with the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists and works on veterinary referral with many of the veterinary practices within Leicester.

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed