How to Choose the Best Dog Foods for Arthritis
Most dogs will develop arthritis at some point in their lifetime, hopefully, not until they are in an advanced stage of life. Arthritis affects dogs to various degrees and can range from mild discomfort to complete debilitation. Thankfully, modern medicine has equipped owners with the ability to help their dogs find relief through supplements, pain medications, and even diet.
Dogs suffering from mobility issues or arthritis may exhibit a number of different symptoms. These can include stiffness of limbs, limping, or even the favoring of a particular leg. Many dogs suffering from moderate to severe arthritis start to require assistance jumping on and of furniture, tackling stairs, and will even start to avoid having to get up and down if possible. Dogs in advanced stages of arthritis will often sleep far more frequently than what would typically be the norm for them.
As arthritis begins to accelerate in the body, a dog may begin to show a different gait when walking, an obvious attempt to avoid having to move stiff or sore legs. However, it is important to note that it is not just arthritis that can cause dogs discomfort with their joints. Other common problems affecting mobility include hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, cancer, and even accidents and injuries.
Dogs that are carrying excess weight are also likely to experience more joint pain. The best course of action to assist with this is to help the dog to shed a few extra pounds. When a dog is overweight, the cartilage that separates the bones begins to wear away causing friction between the bones, a problem that is extremely painful.
There are several different supplements that owners can offer their dogs to help provide relief from arthritis. In addition to helping to alleviate current symptoms, these powerhouse nutrients can also act as preventative medicines, helping to preserve joint health. The best supplements owners can give their dogs to help stave off arthritis and other joint-related problems are:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- Green-lipped mussels
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
- Vitamin C
Since arthritis is essentially joint pain caused by inflammation, there are several common symptoms that can alert owners that their dogs may now have compromised joint function. These include:
- Obvious pain
- Lack of interest in activity
- Loss of movement
- Extreme fatigue
- Disengagement from family life
Arthritis is a condition that is common to many breeds. However, it is not exclusively restricted to one breed over another. There are several different factors that can lead to the development of arthritis in dogs. Among the most common precursors to arthritis are:
- The aging process
- Poor nutrition
- Previous injuries
- Lack of exercise
There are several things that owners can do to help prevent the onset of arthritis in their dogs. Joints must be moved regularly to prevent stiffness from setting in. This means that regular exercise is important to maintaining mobility in dogs. Exercise serves an additional helpful purpose in that dogs that are active are more likely to be at a healthy body weight, an important factor in joint health.
Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin fed even while a dog is yet young can provide a vital support in maintaining mobility and preventing arthritis. Diet is also important. High quality nutrition encourages optimal wellness in dogs, enabling them to have the energy required to remain mobile. The best dog foods for arthritis often contain beneficial supplements to support optimal joint health.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dogs with Arthritis
Determining how much of the best dog food for arthritis to feed a dog can be a bit of a puzzle. Overfeeding can easily lead to weight gain, the enemy of any owner determined to help their dog avoid arthritis. For this reason, free feeding is strongly discouraged.
The best course of action is using the suggested serving sizes printed on the bag of food as a starting point. These can be adjusted accordingly until the correct body condition is easily maintained with the daily portions presented to the dog. As the dog ages, these will need to be amended to reflect a lifestyle that is less active.
Adult dogs require a diet that contains a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat. By comparison, puppy food should be comprised of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat with slightly higher amounts of each also desirable.
Dietary Requirements for Dogs with Arthritis
When selecting the best dog food for arthritis, it is important to take into account the dog’s age and health condition. Some foods are best to address preserving joint health in younger dogs while others provide help for arthritis that has already taken root in older canines. It is important to select the correct food to receive the greatest benefits.
There are several vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can provide a great support for joint health. These include such items as creatine, MSM, and Vitamin C, natural ingredients that help reduce inflammation and boost cartilage quality.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help to keep joints well lubricated to improve mobility. These are best obtained from animal sources such as chicken fat or oily fish. In addition to encouraging joint health, these essential fatty acids fuel dogs’ energy reserves and help with coat and skin quality.
Carbohydrates can be taken from whole grains or fruits and vegetables. The main priority of any carbohydrate is its nutritional value. The best carbs are rich in both fiber and antioxidants to encourage a strong immune system and good digestion. Since grains can be related to inflammation, foods with a lower emphasis on these items are preferable for dogs with arthritis.
Protein is the foundation of any excellent quality diet. Lean, whole meats are preferred; however, meat meals are also excellent sources of protein. By-products and plant-based proteins such as corn, soy, and wheat should be avoided for their nutritional value.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Foods for Arthritis
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a dog food for arthritis:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Contains healthy amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health