Urgent warning for pet owners as 50 per cent surge in disease predicted

·3-min read

While most of the country shivers through the latest cold snap, vets are urging pet owners to keep their fur babies warm.

Freezing temperatures, which have sparked severe weather warnings, are aggravating arthritis in cats and dogs across Australia.

From Perth to Sydney, vets are reporting a spike in case numbers compared to the summer months.

“Every time it gets to about this sort of June time, I get an influx of owners that are coming in with all the dogs and cats,” Dr Naomi Boyd, a Sports Medicine Veterinarian and Physiotherapist from the Small Animal Specialist Hospital, told Yahoo News Australia.

“[They’re] asking questions about them being stiff in the morning, not wanting to walk as far or noticing new injuries that pop up and things like that.”

“I think you could see an uptick in arthritis cases across the population of about 50 percent.”

a dog lies down while a person scans it
Vets are urging pet owners to keep an eye out for the warning signs of arthritis as the weather gets colder. Source: Getty

According to Vetwest, arthritis is an extremely common condition that affects up to one in three cats and one in four dogs.

It’s a degenerative joint disease which can affect animals as well as humans and occurs when the cartilage at the joint between bones erodes and weakens.

It is the result of the ongoing wear and tear and instability in the joints, and can not only affect a pet’s mobility but also their quality of life.

“They don’t sit there and watch TV or catch up on Netflix,” Dr Boyd said, “They’re got to be able to be silly and run.”

“If a dog or cat can’t move freely, you’re taking away one of the main ways that they experience joy. So movement is incredibly important and managing pain is incredibly important.”

Pet mums and dads across the country are being urged to keep an eye out for the warning signs of arthritis.

A dog and cat cuddle up (left) and a dog wears a beanie in front of a fire (right)
Pet owners are being urged to make sure their pet has somewhere warm and cosy to sleep. Source: Getty

“A lot of the pets find it more difficult to get up in the morning,” Dr Leigh Davidson from Your Vet Online told Yahoo News Australia.

"You might notice that after lying down in one spot for a while, and especially when they’re cold, that they tend to be a bit slower to get moving and they might appear lame, holding a leg up and just not appearing as sprightly as usual.

"If you notice that they seem sore or can’t walk in the morning, but by the evening they are looking much freer, that’s a sign that they may be suffering from arthritis and should really be checked by a vet."

A dog crosses the road wearing a coat
Putting a coat on a dog is one way of keeping your fur baby warm. Source: Getty

How to treat arthritis in pets

Dr Davidson says there are plenty of actions owners can take to keep their fur babies warm and arthritis at bay.

“You might consider getting them a super warm and cosy bed, putting a coat on them, and using a low level electric blanket or hot water bottles to provide some extra warmth at night."

Walking dogs and exercising cats, by playing with them everyday, is also really important to keep pets moving to help their joints remain mobile.

Dr Davidson, who is a judge for the Rescue Awards, also recommends speaking to a vet about using supplements, like omega three and green-lipped muscle, and prescription medications when extra pain relief is required.

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