Freezing temperatures and severe weather warnings have sparked calls for Victorian pet owners to be vigilant this winter.
Animal welfare activists say a rise in cats and dogs needing help with arthritis-related problems in recent weeks should not be ignored.
Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic in North Melbourne recorded a 230 per cent increase in arthritic patients last month – from 16 in April to more than 50 in May – as temperatures began to drop.
”As the weather cools down, it’s a good time to remember that winter can be uncomfortable for pets with arthritis,” Head of Veterinary Services at The Lost Dogs’ Home, Dr Jess Wilde, said.
“Just like in humans with arthritis, cooler temperatures can aggravate sore joints in pets, making them more stiff and painful.
”We expect the number of pets needing help to get bigger, so now would be the time to make an appointment if you have any concerns, especially with older pets which are more likely to feel the cold.”
Arthritis is a disease causing painful inflammation in the joints. It affects one in seven Australians and by comparison, one in five adult dogs and roughly 90 per cent of cats over the age of 12.
Briana Hudson lives in Brusnwick in inner Melbourne with her 12-year-old Greyhound, Banjo, who has been struggling with painful arthritis for five years.
She believes regular check-ups and expert advice are key to ensuring he has a good quality of life.
“I notice that during winter is when Banjo seems to be more stiff and sore than usual,” she said.
“The relationship with support from Banjo’s vet had been so key to understanding how to best support Banjo with his condition.
“We always follow his vet’s advice and knowing we have regular checks to monitor his progress and pain levels is very reassuring.”
Common signs of arthritis in pets include limping, joint stiffness, swelling and pain, excessive panting and reduced activity.