How to Choose the Best Dog Foods for Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a condition of the bone that most commonly affects large and giant breed dogs. However, small to medium breeds can also be plagued by this life-altering condition. Hip dysplasia is most often inherited: however, inappropriate or excessive exercise can also lead to the development of the disease.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball does not fit into the hip socket correctly. When this occurs, bone rubs against bone causing further deterioration of each joint and bringing with it excruciating pain.
Among the breeds that are known to be prone to hip dysplasis are:
- Old English Bulldog
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Brussels Griffon
- St. Bernard
- Clumber Spaniel
- Black Russian Terrier
- Great Dane
- Irish Wolfhound
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- German Shepherd
Hip dysplasia most commonly is hereditary and is passed to a puppy from its parents. Unfortunately, passing OFA hip scores does not mean that a set of parents cannot pass down hip dysplasia to their children.
However, even in dogs with excellent hips, hip dysplasia can develop if bone growth during the puppy years occurs too rapidly. Foods that are too rich in protein or that contain the incorrect balance of calcium to phosphorus can lead to growth spurts that the musculoskeletal system cannot keep pace with. As a result, the puppy becomes at greater risk for developing hip or elbow dysplasia or other problems associated with the bones.
Though there are some common symptoms dogs with hip dysplasia may display, some dogs do not show indication at all that they are suffering from this condition. Dogs are masters at hiding pain, and thus, it is sometimes not until the discomfort is extreme that a dog will begin to show signs of the disease.
Among the most commonly seen symptoms of hip dysplasia are:
- Pain or discomfort when rising
- Reduced activity levels
- Hind end weakness
- Favoring of a leg
- Noticeable change in movement
- Deterioration of the muscles in the legs
- Inability or unwillingness to navigate stairs
- Stiffness of limbs
- Personality changes
Another condition that often accompanies hip dysplasia is arthritis, an inflammation of the joints that causes great pain to dogs.
There are several different things that can be done to treat dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. Treatment options depend on the extent the disease has begun to affect the dog. Other determining factors in assessing the most effective treatment options are the dog’s age and size.
Though diet can play a role in helping to prevent hip dysplasia, some dogs reach the point where surgery is the only option for relief from pain and the restoration of mobility.
By far, the best course of action is to prevent hip dysplasia from occurring by feeding an appropriate diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and encouraging regular exercise. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed for dogs suffering from pain related to this condition.
The best dog foods for hip dysplasia can assist dogs with maintaining a healthy body weight, a vital support in preventing the development of this painful and debilitating health condition.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
Maintaining a healthy body weight is critical for dogs with the potential for developing hip dysplasia. Since dogs that are allowed to eat at will can easily gain weight, free feeding is strongly discouraged.
Experts recommend consulting the bag of food selected for the dog for a starting point as to suggested serving sizes. These will need to be modified to reflect the dog’s weight, activity level, and appetite until the correct portion has been found.
Adult dogs require a high quality diet that contains a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat while puppies do best on a food comprised of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat. Care must be taken to only feed puppies a puppy food that contains the correct amount of calcium to phosphorus to prevent rapid bone growth from occurring, a leading cause of the development of hip dysplasia in large and giant breed dogs.
The best dog foods for hip dysplasia include joint supports such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
Dietary Requirements for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
The best dog foods for hip dysplasia are properly nutritionally balanced and contain top quality ingredients that have been carefully selected for their high nutritional value. Ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives should be avoided as they contribute nothing of quality to a dog’s diet and are common allergens for many dogs.
A lean animal protein is the preferred foundation of any diet for dogs with the potential for developing hip dysplasia. Whole meats are the premiere choice; however, meat meals are also an excellent option for concentrated protein. By-products and plant-based proteins such as corn, wheat, and soy are not of sufficient quality to be suitable for dogs in need of support to maintain healthy joint function.
Carbohydrates are an important, though lesser, part of any diet for dogs. These can be derived from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. The main role of these items is their emphasis on dietary fiber and antioxidants to encourage excellent digestion and a healthy immune system.
Healthy fats are a vital part of any diet for dogs. They assist with joint health but also support excellent quality skin and coat and provide dogs with the fuel they need to remain active. Healthy fats are best taken from animal sources such as chicken fat and oily fish.
No diet for dogs that are prone to hip dysplasia is complete without the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin to boost joint function. Prebiotics and probiotics are also valuable additions as they encourage good digestion.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Foods for Hip Dysplasia
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in the best dog food for hip dysplasia:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list (in non-veterinary diets)
- 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