Orchard Vet's Blog

Feeling the cold?


The current spell of cold, wet weather can be a trigger for one of the most common problems confronting small animals - osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis will affect perhaps half of all cats and dogs at some point in their lives. It is a disease that causes loss of joint cartilage, thickening of the joint capsule and the formation of new bone around the joint. These developments make movement painful and difficult. The causes are typically related to age or the animal's genes, a historical injury or an existing deformity of the joint, but weight, exercise, diet and the weather can all be aggravating factors.

There is, unfortunately, no cure for arthritis. It is a progressive disease and will only worsen with time. Nevertheless pain and discomfort can often be managed through the use of anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers. Additionally, therapeutic treatments such as physiotherapy and hydrotherapy can also offer relief. In some cases, surgery may be the best way forward, to remove (in part), reconstruct or fuse the joint. Symptoms can also be managed through maintaining a healthy diet, optimum weight and the right amount of exercise - approaches that you will need to be planned in consultation with a vet to determine, for example, the right fitness regime.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis typically include stiffness, a reluctance to exercise, or a change in gait indicating discomfort in a leg joint. So if you think your pet is exhibiting these signs, especially with the recent change in the weather, please do bring them in to see one of our vets for a check-up. §