Arthritis and joint problems can be a health concern for dogs of any age. If your dog is young, you may be concerned about stunted growth, osteochonitis exfoliative (OCD), or other growth disorders. In older dogs, osteoarthritis (joint wear and tear) is almost considered normal. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is caused by degeneration of cartilage – the smooth, flexible tissue that provides protection for the ends of bones. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber, and without it, bone rubs against bone, leading to pain, loss of mobility, inflammation and reduced quality of life.
If your dog suffers from arthritis or other joint problems, a good diet can be life changing. Just like humans, dogs need different kinds of nutrients to stay active and healthy. They need protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and there are some specific guidelines for determining their exact proportions in a perfectly balanced meal.
If your dog is currently on a commercial diet, the food is likely to contain refined grains. Not only are these highly processed grains limited in nutrients, but they can also increase inflammation and aggravate arthritis, so it is best to avoid them if your dog shows signs of this condition. So, what are some food options for dogs with arthritis?
Choose whole grains or sweet potatoes or other brightly colored fruits and vegetables because they provide important phytonutrients and antioxidants that help fight inflammatio In addition, healthful ingredients, such as oats and barley, can reduce the risk of obesity, thus helping to maintain an optimal weight, which is beneficial for symptom relief.
There are many Whole Foods options that can relieve arthritis pain when fed to your dog on a regular basis. These include celery, alfalfa, ginger, mango, papaya, blueberries and kale. Dog owners can mix these fruits and vegetables together to make juices or smoothies and add them to their dog’s daily diet.
Oily fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fresh salmon, sardines and mackerel, are also good foods to add to your dog’s diet. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and can increase joint mobility.Plus Omega 3 for heart, eye, and skin health, this is a nice little bonus for your dog.
Eggs and meat can increase inflammation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feed them to your dog, just choose lean meat.
Keep in mind that the overall anti-inflammatory level is more important than any single food. Your job is to feed your dog a diet that helps reduce weight (if necessary) and reduces joint inflammation.
In addition to a healthy diet there are several supplements that may help alleviate your dog’s arthritic symptoms.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the most well known. They are the building blocks for cartilage and appear to stimulate the body to make more cartilage and provide much needed lubrication to the joints. In addition, chondroitin sulfate may decrease activity of the enzyme breaking down the cartilage.
MSM is another supplement that is often taken with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. MSM is important because it helps your dog to use vitamins and other nutrients in a more effective manner. While this can be of great benefit in all areas of the body, it can be especially beneficial for cell rejuvenation and the healing of joints.
Fish body oil is full of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). These fatty acids are proven to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system. But be sure to choose fish body oil not liver oil which is high in vitamin A and D and lower in Omega 3.
Finally, antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Turmeric also modulate the inflammatory reactions by helping to eliminate the free radicals that cause cell destruction.
With a little help from you, there is no reason your dog can’t have a long and happy life – even with a touch of arthritis.