Did you know 1 in 5 adult (middle-aged) dogs suffer arthritis? In older dogs some studies have estimated over 90% in older dogs.
I find with many debilitating conditions it’s very likely diet (or let’s say a bad diet) is the underlying cause, and this can very well be true for degenerative joint disease in dogs. This is often overlooked as it can take many years for such a condition to become symptomatic.
For these reasons you must always consider what you are feeding your dog and how good it may be for long term health.
Let’s take a look at how diet can affect joint health in dogs…
Degenerative joint disease in dogs
Throughout their lifetime, dogs tend to develop specific health issues. Some are even born with genetic conditions which can lead to joint disorders. Highly active dogs can develop joint issues from years of running and playing in the park (which happens to be the case for my Border Collie).
Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease are the most common conditions dogs face, and pose a great challenge for their health and general wellbeing.
If your dog is suffering any kind of degenerative joint disease, it’s never too late to make dietary adjustments to minimise their pain, repair cells, and reduce inflammation.
Some types of food and supplements directly affect your dog’s joint health and can help with overall symptoms. Whether your dog is suffering from a degenerative joint disease, or you don’t want your dog to be that 1 in 5, then assessing diet or supplements is well worth considering.
What is osteoarthritis?
Let’s start from the basics. Osteoarthritis usually appears in older dogs, but sometimes even younger canines can be affected due to an injury, genetic predisposition, or improper joint and bone development.
A joint is a place where two or more bones meet. Between them, a flexible tissue called cartilage prevents bones from rubbing against each other. As your dog ages, this cartilage wears down, causing the bones to rub together.
This condition causes various symptoms to appear, such as difficulty getting up and down, limping, stiffness, limited mobility, tenderness, swelling and pain.
Quite often we miss these early symptoms. As our dogs get older we more readily put these conditions down to “old age”, without realising the pain they may unnecessarily be feeling.
Dogs, sadly, are unable to verbalise their pain, which is why as pet parents we need to pick up on small behavioural changes in our dogs which suggest any kind of discomfort.
Can obesity cause arthritis in canines?
Without a doubt, obesity is one of the causes of dog arthritis. Numerous studies have indicated a strong connection between osteoarthritis and obesity, which probably comes as no surprise. A recent study also suggests degenerative joint disease can more likely occur in pups with higher body weights.
Because of these studies, we can conclude a dog’s diet significantly impacts their health.
Paying attention to what your dog eats can make a huge difference. Even though a balanced diet is important (and by this I don’t mean the “Complete & Balanced” statements plastered on most dog foods), the choice of food and the quality of ingredients play a crucial role.
Can you prevent joint issues with food?
There has been no evidence to support this claim entirely. However, there are still some things you can do to make your dog’s life a bit easier.
To decrease the risk of developing joint disorders, make sure your pup maintains a lean body weight while combining low-impact exercise with a good diet.
One study investigated the connection between probiotics and bone metabolism. They research managed to conclude the use of probiotics increased bone density and reduced inflammation. You could check out probiotics for dogs Australia to test this theory. Their products are perfectly safe and specifically designed for canines.
Foods that can help with dog arthritis
Dogs require different types of nutrients to stay healthy and active. Their diet needs to include vitamins and minerals, fats, carbs and proteins. If you don’t know how to feed your dog, consult your vet for a specific feeding guideline.
In addition to making sure your dog’s diet is balanced, there are certain foods they may benefit from if suffering a condition like osteoarthritis. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish and fish oil, are known to have multiple health benefits.
Ingredients like barley and oats can minimise the risk of obesity and help your pup maintain an optimal body weight, which is great for alleviating osteoarthritis symptoms. Make sure to include ingredients like coconut oil, celery, papaya and sweet potato, which are highly beneficial as well.
There are also important supplements that can treat pain caused by joint diseases, and some of them have proven potential in regenerating cartilage. You’ve probably heard of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are common components in many joint supplements. They can boost joint health and alleviate pain linked to advanced stages of osteoarthritis.
How to choose the best dog food?
Besides consulting a vet, there are a couple of general pointers which can help you select the best food for your pup.
Always pay attention to the company that manufactures food. Review their credentials and reputation. The more reputable the company is, the more likely they are going to produce high-quality food and obey pet food legislation.
Learn to read the label to know whether the ingredients are safe, natural and nutritious. Choose the food that fits your dog’s age, nutritional needs and medical condition they might have. If in doubt, a very good place to start is one of our reviews – you should find a review for any dog or cat food sold in Australia if you use the search (at the top!)
You should avoid giving your dog food loaded with calories, especially if they suffer from osteoarthritis. This can lead to excess body weight, further putting more pressure on their joints and causing more pain.
Always keep your dog’s daily caloric intake in mind and choose lean meat instead of fatty protein. Avoid processed food because it will often contain too many carbs.
While obesity is the most obvious link between joint health and your dog’s diet, making sure your dog eats balanced meals is equally important for their overall health. A combination of high-quality food and joint supplements can prevent many joint disorders in dogs.