Australian pet owners have been warned of the dangers of freezing temperatures increasing dog arthritis-related problems.
Animal Welfare League senior veterinarian Karishma Dahia told NCA NewsWire that she had seen a 20 percent increase in dog consults for arthritis-related problems in Queensland following the state’s cold snap.
“I’d say we’ve seen a 20 percent increase in consults for osteoarthritis in middle-aged to older dogs, sort of seven years older in the winter,” she said.
“The colder weather does seem to, I guess, progress the worsening of the osteoarthritic spine, so dogs seem to get a little bit stiffer and are slower to rise.”
The vet said although arthritis was common among all canines, she mostly treated larger dog breeds, such as labradors, german shepherds, and staffies, for the condition.
Camera IconShane Conaghan and Bianca Dewit rug their pets in fleecy winter warmers during an early-morning walk. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard
University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science professor Bob Doneley told NCA NewsWire that arthritis was a degeneration of the joints that caused joint cartilage to erode.
“Most commonly, it’s an age-associated problem because both the bone around the joint itself is affected, and age is a factor of diet and veterinary care,” he said.
“All pets face the same aging problems as people, including heart disease, kidney problems, cancer, and arthritis.”
“I don’t think you can prevent arthritis, but I think you can reduce the severity of it. And you can reduce the effects on the animal’s quality of life.”
Some common signs of arthritis among dogs include trouble going up the stairs or jumping into the car, doing circles before they sit down, and even muscle spasms causing the back legs to shake.
Camera IconThe number of pets needing help with arthritis-related problems in Melbourne has more than tripled since the beginning of winter. Supplied Credit: Supplied
The warning follows a Victorian clinic reporting a 230 percent increase in arthritic animal patients in the past months as temperatures dropped.
Although there are misconceptions about Queensland dogs being better off than the nation’s southern states, the vet said many of the homes in the Sunshine State were built to keep heat out.
“If you look at houses in NSW, Victoria, they’re built for the colder weather,” Ms. Dahia said.
“I think a lot of people don’t have heating because it’s only cold for a few months in Queensland, whereas down south, it’s cold all year round.”
Pet owner Bianca de Wit told NCA NewsWire that she rugged her two dogs in “pajamas” at night and even had raincoats to wear on a windy day.
“We use fleece blankets and thick winter-looking coats for early morning walks to keep them warm, which seems to help,” she said.