Dogs in Winter: Protecting their Joints

Written in collaboration with our friends at Snooza.

Feeling the cold this winter? Spare a thought for your dog, who despite its fur coat can still be impacted by cooler weather. Joint pain, stiffness, discomfort and inflammation are all symptoms that can be exacerbated by colder temperatures, especially for our senior pets.

Here are five things you need to know about protecting your dog’s joints this winter.

 1. Prevention through exercise

Just like humans, our pets are at risk of gaining weight during the winter months. With 40 per cent of Australian dogs now classed as obese, weight gain is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. A significant percentage of our pet population is also ageing with many dogs living longer owing to the improvement of veterinary preventative health programs. There is now greater recognition by vets that prevention of osteoarthritis through maintaining joint health and function, is preferable to the treatment of osteoarthritis. ZamiPet’s head veterinarian, Dr. Andrew McKay advocates maintaining your dog’s ideal healthy weight to help alleviate unnecessary strain on joints. “Regular, gentle exercise, even during the colder months, is one of the best ways to keep your pet’s joints healthy during the winter season.”

2. Keep your dog warm in the colder months

Dog beds and blankets for winter

Whilst certain breeds are more susceptible to the cold, all dogs can benefit from well-padded bedding out of the cold, and especially away from draughts. “Bedding that provides orthopaedic support is an important investment for our senior pets in particular, to help improve and maintain their quality of life” says Dr. McKay.

Snooza’s Calming Snuggler features the same long pile faux-fur as their popular Calming Cuddler range, but with the structure and support of a comfortable orthopaedic foam base. The Snooza Ortho Sofa is also a great option for older dogs, featuring a wide-open front to provide easy access for senior pets, allowing them to get on and off with ease.

A versatile, orthopaedic mattress-style option is the Ortho Bed, which can be moved around the house easily if your pet likes to follow you in the kitchen, for example, and is covered with long pile plush making it cosy, supportive for joints and protective against cold floors.

The cosy Calming Blanket can double as a dog winter blanket by providing extra warmth for your pets during chilly winter evenings – just drape over your dog ‘s bed, your sofa or any other surface where your pup likes to rest.

Rugs and carpet can help

In addition to high-quality bedding, non-skid surfaces such as rugs or carpet may be of benefit in your dog’s high-traffic areas, along with ramps – where practical – to help your dog negotiate steps, or get up onto beds and couches, or into and out of cars, especially during the winter months.

Dog winter coats

Outside the home, certain breeds such as greyhounds or senior pets will also benefit from wearing a comfortable jacket or coat to protect them from the cold. In addition to being warm, waterproof and washable, fit is the most important factor in choosing the right dog winter coat. “If your dog isn’t comfortable in its coat, it will likely refuse to wear it”, says Dr. McKay.

Happy Golden Retriever dog lying on Snooza dog bed inside a house

3. Revisit your dog’s diet during winter

If you’re spending less time outside with your dog during the colder weather, older dogs in particular can gain weight, especially if eating the same as their younger, more active selves, putting extra strain on their joints. If weight becomes a challenge for your pet, Dr McKay recommends feeding your dog a high-quality, lower-fat diet. “Feeding twice daily is also best, once in the morning and again in the evening, and never feed more than the recommended feeding guidelines on the pack.”

4. Supplements for joint stiffness and soreness

Joint and senior dog supplements can provide extra support for your dog during the chilly winter period.

Dr. McKay says vets recognise the benefit of a multi-modal approach for the management of joint stiffness and discomfort, including the use of supplements. “There is also research demonstrating that by using a combination of supplements with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may allow for a lower dose of NSAIDs to be administered.”

ZamiPet Joint Protect is specially formulated with MSM and a higher dose of Glucosamine (500 g) and Chondroitin (300 g) per serve than comparative supplements, to help support and maintain joint function and mobility in dogs. “ZamiPet Joint Protect is also the only chewable Australian-made pet supplement formulated with Hyaluronic Acid, which can help alleviate symptoms of joint inflammation and maintain synovial fluid that lubricates joints,” says Dr McKay.

Owners wanting to treat and reward their dogs with a healthy snack that is also formulated to support joint health, can try ZamiPet’s HappiTreats™ Joints. Made from quality Australian chicken, this delicious, healthy treat for dogs is enriched with vitamins and minerals and contains the added benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin to support healthy joints.

5. When in doubt, visit your vet

If your pet is struggling with joint pain during the winter months, your vet is always the best person to help develop a treatment plan that’s right for your dog. Depending on the needs of your pet, this may include weight management, rehabilitation, supplements or pain management, or a ‘multi-modal’ approach, which uses a combination of treatments.

Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.