Winter is coming! Start now to protect your dog’s joints all season long
That’s right. We used the “W” word!
Whether you like it or not, winter is on its way. And for seniors and pets with joint issues the cold weather can be challenging. Just like us, our pet’s can experience increased stiffness and difficulty getting around when the temperatures drop.
The good news is that there are steps you can take now to prepare for the chilly season ahead.
W – Watch their weight
We are not the only ones who are prone to weight gain over the holidays. A lack of activity and increased table scraps can cause some pets to pack on the pounds during the winter months.
And while many people think this is just a part of their dog’s natural cycle, the more likely case is that we just don’t move as much when it’s cold outside.
The problem is that every extra pound your pet puts on is added pressure on his joints and can increase the likelihood of stiffness and mobility problems. Even a short walk around the block is better than nothing and will give you both the opportunity to keep the winter weight at bay.
Not a fan of the ice and snow? Check out our final tip below for information on choosing an indoor doggy daycare facility!
I – Ice is not nice!
I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but where I am winter can be fierce. While snow is a nuisance, ice can be dangerous – both for you and your pet!
When you’re out for your daily walk, be mindful of your surroundings and notice if there are any icy patches up ahead. Take your time and ensure you have boots with a good amount of traction to keep you from skidding and taking your pup down with you.
The ice and snow also pose problems for your pet’s tender toes. Some breeds (my sheltie included!) are prone to little ice balls that form between their toes and can cause frostbite and sores. Your best bet is to pop a pair of booties onto your pet’s paws to keep his feet warm and protected. The added bonus? Boots will protect your dog’s feet from the burning effects of salt, which can be found on many roadways and sidewalks around most neighborhoods.
N – Nature may hold the answer
Natural supplements including glucosamine, green lipped muscle and oxidized beta-carotene are a great way to keep your dog’s joints healthy all winter long. Since most supplements require some time to build up in the system, it is best to think about your dog’s supplement needs now.
Plan ahead and get your pet on a joint supplement as early as October to help keep him feeling great when the weather gets colder.
You can also consider learning more about the different healing therapies available near you. Many pets can get immense relief from natural healing modalities such as acupuncture, laser therapy, hydrotherapy and massage.
T – Thermal beds
When you’re stiff and sore the last thing you want to do is lie down on a cold, hard floor, right?
Older dogs are especially prone to feeling the creaks and strains of age and can really benefit from some added cushioning.
If your pet is really showing signs of discomfort, you may want to consider a special mattress designed specifically to cushion the joints and relieve pressure (like these super-deluxe beds from Tempur-pedic, which are amazing for stiff seniors!)
Heated beds can also feel really wonderful on stiff joints and are super cozy for pets of all ages. Pamper your pet with a deluxe bed and show them why they are your very best friend. CozyWinters is a great place to start your search and offers both electric and self-warmed beds for both dogs and cats.
E – Eek that’s c-c-cold!!
Some large breeds are lucky enough to have a built-in fur coat to protect them from the elements.
But many small and medium sized breeds can need some extra insulation to project them against the ice and cold.
Visit your local pet store and you’re apt to find a variety of winter wear to keep your dog warm and toasty.
Be sure to look for a coat that covers your pet well without impeding mobility. If it’s less icy and more slushy where you live you’ll want to consider a coat that also covers under your pet’s belly.
Not finding what you’re looking for locally? The Dog Outdoors has a large selection of styles and colours to suit even the most particular of pooches.
R – Remain indoors
When the ice and snow prevent you from your daily walks, a visit to a doggy daycare is a great way to burn off some energy and keep your dog active during the longer winter months.
We have taken our dogs to indoor pet centers and they have a blast! Plus, it’s a great chance to socialize your dog with others and acclimatize him to a variety of noises and stimulation.
Be sure to ask for a tour of the facilities and ask whether or not proof of vaccination is required. You’ll also want to meet the staff who will be supervising your pet and ensure they have the proper qualifications.
Other questions I like to ask are:
Are staff trained in emergency first aid for pets?
We don’t like to think about it but accidents happen and you’ll want to make sure there is at least one person on site who is trained in pet first aid.
Are pets required to be on flea medication to participate?
Nothing can ruin a fun afternoon with friends like a ferocious case of fleas. And the last think you want is a tiny hitchhiker finding it’s way into your home. Regardless of a facilities policy, you’ll want to make sure your dog is current on his flea medication and is well protected.
Will an actual person be watching my pet?
Some places rely more heavily on video monitoring than others be sure ask whether or not someone is actually supervising the pet’s play at all times.
Are more rambunctious pets allowed to play in a separate area from the quieter more timid pets?
If you have a shy toy poodle, chances are she will feel more comfortable playing with dogs of a similar energy level instead of the hyper-lab that just wants to wrestle and run. Similarly, an excitable and bouncy lab will likely have more fun chasing other high energy dogs who don’t run away frightened.
What is their protocol in case of an accident or emergency and they can’t reach me?
If something were to happen and you couldn’t be reached, do you want your pet taken to the nearest vet clinic or would you prefer the facility take no action until they speak with you? Many facilities will ask you what you prefer in terms of medical intervention and will have you sign a waiver indicating that you are responsible for any vet charges incurred in case of an emergency.
Winter is a wonderful time of year, and with proper planning you can keep your dog’s joints healthy all winter long!