Freezing temperatures and severe weather warnings have prompted calls for Victorian pet owners to be vigilant this winter.
Animal welfare campaigners say an increase in the number of cats and dogs needing help with arthritis-related issues in recent weeks should not be ignored.
North Melbourne’s Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic recorded a 230% increase in the number of arthritis patients last month – from 16 in April to more than 50 in May – as temperatures began to drop.
“As the weather turns colder, it’s a good time to remember that winter can be uncomfortable for pets with arthritis,” said Dr Jess Wilde, Veterinary Services Manager at The Lost Dogs’ Home. .
“Just like in humans with arthritis, cooler temperatures can make joint pain worse in pets, making them stiffer and more painful.
“We expect the number of animals needing help to increase, so now would be a good time to make an appointment if you have any concerns, especially with older animals who are more likely to feel the cold. “
Arthritis is a disease causing painful inflammation of the joints. It affects one in seven Australians and, by comparison, one in five adult dogs and around 90% of cats over the age of 12.
Briana Hudson lives in Brusnwick, central Melbourne, with her 12-year-old greyhound, Banjo, who has suffered from painful arthritis for five years.
She believes that regular check-ups and expert advice are essential to ensure a good quality of life for her.
“I notice that during the winter is when Banjo seems to be more stiff and sore than usual,” she said.
“The relationship with Banjo’s vet support had been so critical in understanding how best to support Banjo in his condition.
“We are still taking his vet’s advice and knowing that we have regular check-ups to monitor his progress and his level of pain is very reassuring.”
Common signs of arthritis in pets include lameness, joint stiffness, swelling and pain, excessive panting and reduced activity.