WITH more chilly weather on the way across much of the nation in coming days, veterinarians warn that our pets may need special attention.
Small animal orthopedic surgeon Associate Professor Mark Glyde, from the Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital, said that many pet owners didn't realise how common arthritis was.
"Unlike humans, arthritis in dogs is not a problem just related to aging," Dr Glyde said.
"Dogs suffer arthritis at an early age from developmental problems in their joints. Around 20% of one-year-old dogs have arthritis."
Like humans, research has shown that arthritic dogs and cats may feel more uncomfortable in the cold.
"Make sure your dog or cat has somewhere warm to sleep, such as a basket or kennel," he said.
"Your vet can recommend certain foods and medications to promote healthy joints and manage pain, but it's very important that pets don't take 'human' medicines, such as Nurofen."
Dr Glyde also urged owners to be 'clued in' to their pets' behaviour so they can recognise when something isn't right.
"When humans have a limp, it's quite obvious as we only have two legs. In four-legged animals, it's harder to spot as the other legs tend to compensate," he said.
"Also, animals rarely cry out if they're in pain. Often, they'll act grouchy, be less active and appear stiff after resting - they're the signs owners need to look out for."
While many arthritic pets may shy away from exercise, veterinarians insist it is still an important part of keeping your pet happy and well.
"With our busy lifestyles, it can be tempting for owners to skip the daily walk in favour of a good weekend run down at the beach," Dr Glyde said.
"This can actually increase discomfort. Daily walking at a moderate pace is ideal for arthritis."
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