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My cat is old, how do I know if they are suffering from arthritis or are in pain as they just sleep all the time?

Elderly cat’s very commonly suffer from stiff and arthritic joints, though they do not often show pain. They will certainly not vocalise when they are in pain. Sleeping a lot can actually be a sign of pain, though cats can sleep up to 23 hours a day so this is not a very good indicator! Muscle wastage over the back limbs is a very common sign. So if your cat’s back legs look very spindly it’s worth asking a vet to check them for pain. Failing to be able to jump up onto a chair or worktop is another sign, as is seeking out warm or cold places. If you are worried it’s worth putting them on a joint supplement as this will do no harm and may actually help them feel better.

My cat is scratching and their skin is raw. What can I do?

The most common cause of scratching in cats is fleas. Run a flea comb through your cat’s coat to see if there is any flea dirt. This will be seen as small black specks which will go red when smeared onto wet cotton wool. Even if you don’t see fleas, if you haven’t treated your cat in the last month, it is worth treating them to be sure. If your cat has made the skin very sore then a trip to the vet is a good idea as an anti-inflammatory injection may be needed to stop the itching.

How can I reduce the pain in my dog’s joints?

As dogs get older they very commonly develop arthritis in their joints. There are a number of things that can be done though.

  1. Make sure your dog is the correct weight. If your dog is even slightly overweight this can vastly increase the pressure on joints. A recent study showed reducing your dog’s weight by just 10% resulted in the same reduction in lameness as starting your dog on anti-inflammatory medication.
  2. Use supplements. Joint and mobility supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Omega-3 fish oils are available to help reduce inflammation in joints. 
  3. If your dog is very sore and stiff, then take them to the vet. Painkilling medication, acupuncture and laser treatment are now widely available and can drastically improve your dog’s quality of life if they are very sore.
Why does my dog cry out when climbing onto the sofa or bed?

As dogs get older they very commonly develop arthritis in their joints, and this could be the cause of the discomfort in your pet. If the problem persists, we advise that you seek professional advice from your vet.

My dog is suffering from anxiety, what can I do to help it when out on walks and around people and noise?

Anxiety in dogs can happen for a number of reasons, however, it is normally because a dog has not been socialised properly when they were a puppy. It is really important to try and expose puppies to all sorts of scary things, dogs and people between the ages of 9-14 weeks to try and prevent anxiety when they are older. Some dogs may also have had a bad experience leading to anxiety. When faced with these stressful situations, it’s really important to comfort your pet. But as a further line of defence, you can also look to natural herbal remedies to calm them down and keep them happy,  Bob Martin has a range of health supplements which can help manage your dogs stress and anxiety. The key to changing behaviour is changing the way your dog feels about the stimulus. This can be done by keeping the stimulus far enough away that it does not produce a reaction and rewarding your dog for being calm. This is called desensitisation training and can be carried out with anything from people to cars. Desensitisation to noises can be carried out by recording the noise that your dog is scared of and initially playing it quietly so that it does not elicit a response. As your dog gets used to the noise gradually increase the volume. You can also purchase CDs with recordings of noises that dogs are commonly scared of such as fireworks. Some dogs are so anxious that training alone is not enough and you may need help from a vet or specialist behaviourist. Dog trainers, unfortunately, do not have to hold any qualifications to be able to advertise. Try to find an APBC (The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors) registered behaviourist. These trainers have to have undergone a certain amount of training and are closely monitored before they can join this group.

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