Cold Weather and Arthritis in Dogs: A Pet Owner Guide
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Cold Weather and Arthritis in Dogs: A Pet Owner Guide

Discover what you need to know about cold weather and arthritis in dogs.

Cold weather can affect a pet in a variety of ways. Some pets may need more time to adjust to cooler weather or you may start to notice a change in your furry friend’s behavior. However, with a medical condition like arthritis in dogs, the illness may affect your pet’s health and overall well-being. Fortunately, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about cold weather and arthritis in dogs.

Cold weather and arthritis in dogs

A pet owner guide to cold weather and arthritis in dogs

What is arthritis in dogs?

Arthritis may affect dogs of all ages and breeds. Whether you have a Labrador Retriever, Mixed breed, or Pug, they can Wilde breaks down what you need to know about arthritis in dogs.

“Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, which can cause severe pain in some cases. It can affect dogs of all sizes and can affect any joint. Arthritis can be a normal age-related change or it can be related to the progression of joint diseases, such as hip dysplasia or cruciate disease. It can also develop secondary to non-orthopedic diseases, like Lyme disease, or a bone infection.”

In fact, arthritis may affect each dog differently, some may experience a sudden onset, while others may slowly start to have trouble jumping off of the couch or bed. Consider keeping a journal and notating what your pet is doing, so your pet’s veterinarian can run the proper diagnostics if needed.

Signs of arthritis

You may start to notice your best friend is moving slower or isn’t as excited to go on a walk, could it be arthritis? In fact, your dog may not always let you know they’re in pain. Wilde points out various signs to look for in dogs when it comes to arthritis.

Consider the following:

  • Slow to rise
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Slowing down on walks
  • Reluctance to go up and down the stairs
  • Limping
  • The lameness can seem to improve with increased activity. For example, it can appear that your dog may ‘warm out of it.’ Also, dogs don’t generally vocalize due to arthritic pain until the condition is advanced or severe.

Every dog is different and may communicate their wants and needs differently. Naturally, if your dog is feeling well, some may be clingy, while others may seclude themselves.

If your pet is acting differently, talk to your veterinarian. They can determine the next best steps for your furry friend. For an additional resource on pet relief, read this pain relief for dogs guide.

How can cold weather affect dogs with arthritis?

While the weather starts to turn cool outside, you may want to get outdoors, stretch your legs, and enjoy some fun activities with your best friend. Naturally, depending on how your furry friend is feeling, you may not be sure if going outside is a great idea.

Indeed, “for unknown reasons, cold weather seems to cause signs of arthritis to be more severe. The cold weather can result in decreased activity, which can cause increased stiffness of the joints,” says Wilde.

Further, if your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis and you want to avoid the cooler weather, you may want to consider some indoor activities with your best friend. Check out this how to entertain your dog article here.

Trupanion claims data

We sat down with the Trupanion data team to learn more about arthritis in dog’s claims and the cost of medical care for your furry friend. For example, the average claimed amount is about $100, while the Trupanion policy has paid over 12 million dollars in arthritic dog claims. In addition, there have been over 110,000 individual claims for this pet health condition with a variety of dog breeds.

The top claimed dog breeds include:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Pug
  5. Siberian Husky

In addition, we wanted to check the seasonality when it comes to arthritis claims. In fact, it appears pets claimed consistently for this pet health condition throughout all four seasons.

Consider the following:
Behind-the-scenes with Trupanion's data team looking at arthritis in dogs claims through the seasons.

Best practices to help your furry friend during the cold season

Whether you have an energetic dog or couch potato who loves to lounge, it may still be helpful to get out and get some exercise outdoors. Wilde dives into some tips to help your best friend with cooler weather.

  • Remember that even with their built-in fur coat, dogs can get cold too. In cold climates, you can help protect your dog from the cold with a coat, sweaters, and booties.
  • Booties are especially important in areas where there are puddles, snow, or ice. The salt that may be put down on sidewalks can be quite irritating to the skin and pads of the paw, and can also be toxic if the dogs lick it off, so booties can be especially important when there’s snow or ice.
  • A cozy bed with plenty of cushioning and blankets to snuggle under can be beneficial for your pet.
  • Make sure that your arthritic pet remains active, as decreased activity can cause weight gain and make joint stiffening seem worse. If it’s too cold to take your pet outside, consider a daycare facility that is aware of your arthritic dog’s needs.
  • Maintaining an ideal weight is an important part of managing arthritis in dogs during any season.
  • Consult with your veterinarian as to whether your dog could benefit from treatment for its arthritis, including, but not limited to medication, joint supplements, and rehabilitation therapy.
Read on to learn some tips for cold weather and arthritis in dogs.

Cold weather and arthritis in dogs: every dog is different

Whether it’s fall, winter, summer, or spring, every dog may react differently to their arthritis. Some dog’s arthritis may flare up in humid weather, while others may ache at the start of spring.

But by watching over your furry friend, consulting with your veterinarian, and giving your pet the recommended treatment (and plenty of snuggles and cuddles), your best friend will certainly enjoy your companionship and positivity.

For more content on dogs, read Heart Murmur in Dogs: A Pet Owner’s Guide

Terms and conditions do apply. We love informed decisions. See our policy for full coverage details.

Trupanion is a registered trademark owned by Trupanion, Inc. Underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company and in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit AmericanPetInsurance.com to review all available pet health insurance.

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