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Supporting your Senior Dogs During Cold Weather
Winter and Autumn in the UK can often feel like a drag for us dog owners, the days shorten significantly making walk times much less pleasant, the weather batters us with rain and the cold, and our dogs seem to take on that damp smell until March!
The colder months can be particularly problematic for those of us with dogs who are approaching their golden years, mainly due to their susceptibility to extremes of weather and temperature.
Although cold weather and wintery conditions can potentially have a detrimental effect on all dogs, those in their latter years run an increased risk of suffering from issues that include, but are not limited to; frostbite, hives, hypothermia, exacerbating arthritis and joint pain, and slips, trips and falls due to slower reflexes and diminishing balance.
In today’s post, we will be discussing the potential problems that older dogs can face in cold weather conditions, what we can do to support our golden oldies and what help there is available to us to make sure our ageing animals are as healthy as can be until the sun comes back in Spring.
The Risks of the Cold For Senior Dogs
It has been reported that up to 60% of dogs over the age of five might suffer from arthritis and that figure exponentially increases with age. Arthritis causes inflammation of joints and the tissues around joints, causing pain, swelling and reduction of function.
Cold conditions can exacerbate the symptoms of this disease and can affect our older dogs' range of motion, leading to the potential for discomfort, pain and the risk of falls due to the limiting of reflexes.
Like us humans, older dogs can also suffer from problems with circulation, posing an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Although the temperatures in the UK rarely get cold enough to cause these problems, it is still a risk that is worth knowing about and taking preventative measures for during particularly cold periods.
Although very uncommon, hives can also be an issue facing older dogs in the cold. The hives will be caused by a condition known as urticaria and although they are uncomfortable and unsightly there are numerous treatments available and the condition is rarely serious. If you suspect your dog is suffering from hives you should always seek veterinary advice immediately.
Old Dogs, New (ish) Tricks for Staying Warm on Winter Walks
As we all know, staying warm in the winter is most often about choosing the right clothing! As the old adage goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. Now, having witnessed the storms in Cornwall last year I might be tempted to argue that point, however, the sentiment remains true. Specialist coats, boots and thermal wear are available for dogs of all shapes and sizes, in the modern era, and this is the best way to keep your dogs warmer when they start to feel the cold a little more than they once did.
Active games such as fetch are also good for staying warm in the winter, however, your older dogs might not be able or interested. Any game or activity that keeps them moving is good for maintaining circulation and, in turn, warmth.
Lastly, keeping your dog dry and clean during and after walks is so important when the winter comes. Dogs can stay cold for hours after a walk if they are damp and dirt can cause irritations in senior dogs’ paws and fur, so it is important to always have a towel handy.
Supporting Your Golden Oldie Throughout the Winter
Although there is no cure for the ageing process (we wish!!), we can do our bit to make sure our older dogs are receiving all the right nourishment to stay healthy in the colder months. The easiest way to do this is by feeding foods, treats and supplements that are specially formulated with senior dogs in mind. Hownd’s Golden Oldies Hemp Wellness Treats, for example, have added glucosamine and chondroitin which are known to help ease and support arthritic joints and general stiffness.
Supplements containing turmeric have also shown positive results in supporting our golden oldies and are widely available in paste form, from companies such as Golden Paste Co.
You can also feed your older dog a diet that is specially made for those who need a little extra TLC later in life. Our very own Aflora Penrose is formulated with a magical melange of ingredients specially selected for senior dogs, alongside added joint care to support their movement and flexibility.
So, when it comes to your older dogs and the winter months, don't forget to give them a little extra care and attention when it’s cold outside, make sure they are wrapped up warm and are eating the right things to keep them protected throughout the year.
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