We tailor our own home environments to make living and daily tasks as easy and as comfortable as possible. But do we consider the impact of this environment on our pets?
For our pets, the difficulty of walking from one room to another or eating a meal can vary greatly depending on the environmental factors at play.
Imagine walking on a slippery surface, such as an icy path. You would slow your pace, take much smaller strides and increase the muscle tone through your core to make you more stable and prevent falling.
On slick flooring, such as vinyl and laminate, dogs will act similarly but when they engage in play or move quickly, maintaining muscle strength is much more difficult and can lead to overstrain and soreness, especially where there is already joint disease or weakness.
Jumping onto and off sofas, beds, worktops and in and out of the car increases concussive force through joints.
Jumping a normal and natural movement and, of course, can be part of play or exercise, however, it can be problematic when done repetitively.
When jumping, the force through the forelimbs can be up to 4.5 times that body weight of the animal. Therefore repetitive exposure to excess force can lead to acute injury and/or long term degeneration.
Feeding from the floor can provide neck joint and muscle activity and encourage stretch further along the spinal muscle groups.
In dogs and cats who have difficulty with neck movement or generalised mobility, raised and securing feeding bowls and providing a mat to stand on make consuming their meals much easier.
Bedding should provide adequate soft support to prevent pressure areas and allow enough space for change of position during sleep periods. Positioning beds away from drafts and raising bedding up off cold floors can help reduce post-rest soreness in older dogs.