DO NOT underestimate just how draughty your home is if you want to protect your dog from aches and pains this winter.

That is according to one leading UK vet who says most properties are plagued with far more cold spots and currents of cool air than homeowners realise.

And he has also seen sales of supplements designed to ease joint pain double in the last three years.

The colder, damper winter weather can play havoc with a canine’s aching joints.

And veterinary surgeon Iain Booth, says owners should get down on their hands and knees to get a true ‘dog’s eye view’ on what life is really like for your pooch.

Iain, founder of pet retailer, said: “Many dogs, particularly certain breeds, start to suffer joint-related aches and pains at this time of year.

“The pain is exacerbated in the winter and autumn by moist, cold air and it can be really debilitating for some animals.

“And while it might sound obvious, one of the big things you can do is to make sure your dog’s bed is positioned away from any draughts.

“You might say, ‘Well, my house isn’t draughty, so that’s not a problem’. But chances are, you’re wrong! Almost all houses have a draught if you see it from a dog’s perspective.

“Get down on the floor, as low as you can, and take a dog’s eye view - and I guarantee most homeowners will be surprised at the chills they discover, cold air currents you simply might not be aware of otherwise.

“Then it’s a case of making sure your four-legged-friend can sleep in comfort, away from any draughts that might be causing him or her pain.”

Arthritis – aka inflammation of the joints – is thought to affect up to 30 per cent of adult dogs, according to the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Recent studies have claimed a recent rise in canine arthritis, too, blaming it on an increase in obesity in dogs.

Meanwhile vets’ bills for treating just one pet for the painful condition can reach £3,000 a year.

But Iain says there are plenty of things you can do to make your dog is more comfortable.

He said: “We’ve experienced a real increase in sales of joint supplements for dogs, with a 100 per cent increase on certain lines in the last three years, which indicates there’s a growing problem.

“First thing’s first, get a soft snuggle bed, where dog can really bury themselves until all you can see is their head and nose poking out. They’re ideal.

“And, of course, there’s nothing better for them putting than being next to a nice warm radiator or fire - though obviously not too close as to pose a risk.”

While the precise cause is still unknown, muscles and joints stiffen and become uncomfortable in cold weather.

It is thought changes in barometric pressure can cause the expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissues, resulting in pain in the tissues that are affected by arthritis.

Low temperatures may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, making them stiffer and more painful during movement.

Iain added: “There are anti-inflammatory medications you can get for your dog, or pain-killers if needed.

“And one of the simplest things you can do to help them is to introduce supplements into their diet – typically glucosamine and chondroitin chews.

“They boost the manufacture of collagen and proteoglycans in the joint cartilage and the synovial membrane, which then in turn produces the fluid to lubricate joints.

“And then you just need to make sure the rest of the diet is good – and that they’re not overweight, which places extra strain on the joints.

“Foods which include fish/bovine cartilage are good, as well as anything rich in omega 3 fatty acids.”

Some of the most obvious signs your dog might be suffering with joint pain caused by arthritis include limping and difficulty going up and down stairs.

The animal might also have a sore neck or slight hunch, caused by spinal issues.

Other less obvious signs might be that they’re simply more tired and irritable than usual.

Mr Booth said: “Dogs suffering with arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or even bite areas of their body which are painful.

“You might even see them licking or chewing to the point that their skin becomes really inflamed, or they suffer hair loss.

“At this time of year it’s important to look out for the warning signs.”