Winter Worries

Google Maps location for Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre

Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre
231 Frankston-Flinders Rd
VIC 3199

03 5971 4888
03 5971 4887

Summer is over. And it’s official. And not because of some arbitrary date, not because the clocks have been wound back, but because Dr. Will has put on long trousers for the first time in 6 months.

The turning of the seasons is one of the best parts about living in a temperate climate - our summer feels warmer, because our winter is cold. Our summer evenings feel long, because our winter days are short. The change makes both extremes better. Although Melbourne’s habit of having all four seasons during a single day sometimes feels a little wearing.

I love winter. I love rugging-up in a hat and scarf to go out, and seeing my breath turn to mist and the crunch of frosty grass under my feet. I love battening-down the hatches when the rain is sleeting against the window panes. I love a crackling fire in the grate, and rich hearty stews, and big red wines.

But, as the nights draw in, and the temperature drops, some of us (both two and four-legged) feel it more than others.

The old saying that people can “feel winter in their bones” turns out to be true. According to research at Harvard, 67.9% of arthritis sufferers can predict bad weather because their joints hurt more.

The science that explains this, applies to our pets too, which is why our dogs and cats can seem more uncomfortable during the winter months.

Fortunately, they don’t need to be stiff and sore; there is much that can be done to keep your mate comfy until spring.



By far and away, the biggest contributor to stiffness and immobility is excess weight. Being overweight means asking the joints to do a bigger job than they are built for. Imagine trying to tow a caravan with a Mini.

We gauge body condition (the technical term for “degree of fatness”) by giving a score out of 9. Scoring 5 is perfect, although an arthritic pet should probably score 4. Unfortunately, most pets score 6 (or higher).

Reducing body condition is the most cost-effective way of improving the mobility of an arthritic pet.


Joint Health   

As arthritis progresses, two things happen inside a joint. The cartilage (the smooth, sliding surface inside a joint) starts to become worn and pock-marked. This reduces the ease with which the joint moves.


Imagine turning off a smooth freeway onto a corrugated dirt road, in your caravan-towing Mini.

The second thing to happen is a reduction in the amount of lubricating joint fluid inside the joint, which also contributes to less smooth joint movement. Imagine the Mini’s engine needs a an oil-change.

Improving “joint health” is something that we do well, with great results. It is non-invasive, not expensive, and easy to maintain. Sometimes we use a series of injections, or a specific diet, or diet supplementation. Why don’t you call and make an appointment for one of our vets to explain the benefits of each option in detail.



One of the hallmarks of advancing arthritis is pain. The difficulty for pet-owners is that our animals display their pain in very variable ways, and to varying levels. At one end of the spectrum, they can; cry out or become completely immobile or avoid putting any weight on their affected limb. At the other end of the spectrum, they can; have a change in their mood or appetite, or be ever-so-slightly slower to get up, or just jump less. Cats are particularly good at hiding pain. I might be stretching the analogy a little, but imagine that the Mini looks great, but has broken down anyway.


There are several options for managing our pets’ pain. Which one we choose is dictated by a number of factors, including: whether they are a dog or cat, their age, their general health, their other medications, their ability to take tablets, their response…


Winter can be hard for stiff old dogs, and cats (and people). Arthritis is a painful, debilitating condition that neither our pets, nor us, should have to deal with. But there is a lot that can be done to help keep them full of the joys of Spring in Winter.

Pick up the phone and ask what we could do to help your friend.

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