How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Joints
Preserving good joint health is very important to the quality of life of a dog. Though elderly dogs benefit the most from the best dog food for joints, it is an excellent decision to start a dog on a diet that provides support for healthy joints from the dog’s youth as it lays an excellent foundation for the future.
As dogs age, mobility can become an issue, and many dogs succumb to the effects of arthritis, a condition that can be very painful. In addition to this, dogs that carry too much weight place excess strain on their joints causing them to experience discomfort.
Problems with joints can begin at any age and encompass a wide range of degrees. Some dogs barely notice much change in their day to day functionality while others reach a point where any movement is nearly impossible. Thankfully, diet, supplements, and medications can help to offset the effects of arthritis and provide a vital help for joint health to improve a dog’s mobility.
Signs of poor joint health are easy for owners to detect. These include limping, stiffness, or the favoring of a limb. Some dogs with symptoms of arthritis exhibit difficulties rising from a seated or prone position and resort to doing more sleeping than what is normal for the dog.
As dogs age and stiffness becomes more pronounced, the dog’s gait may change to accommodate the paint the dog feels from movement. During this phase, many dogs will avoid using stairs and will need assistance getting on and off furniture.
But it is not just arthritis that can cause pain to joints. There are several inherited diseases that can affect a dog’s mobility including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, metabolic issues, cancers, accidents or injuries, and more. To best determine the root cause behind a dog’s joint pain, it is wise to make a visit to a veterinarian for a wellness exam.
A critical component of healthy joints is keeping the dog in a good body condition. Excess weight puts additional strain on a dog’s hips and joints which over time can cause deterioration of the cartilage connecting the bones.
For some dogs, a pain medication will become an important part of its daily regimen to help the dog enjoy mobility without experiencing soreness.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dog Foods that help with Joint Health
Since maintaining a proper body weight is extremely important to joint health, it is vital that owners determine precisely how much of the best food for joints to feed their dogs. The bag of food will offer serving suggestions which are a very helpful starting point. These can be adjusted with the dog’s weight and appetite serving as important guides.
As dogs age, less food will need to be fed since the dog’s activity level will be reduced. Free feeding is strongly discouraged as it can easily lead to weight gain.
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.
Dietary Requirements for Dog Foods that help with Joint Health
The best dog foods for joints are properly balanced and fortified with powerhouse supplements to support good health in dogs. Limited ingredient diets are preferred if possible. The main priority in any ingredient in a top tier food is that it be of premium quality and easy for dogs to digest.
Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives serve no beneficial purpose in dog food. These are best avoided as they can be common allergens for dogs and can lead to the development of food sensitivities.
Meat should be the first ingredient in any premium diet for dogs. Whole meats are preferred, but meat meals also provide all of the high quality nutrition dogs need. However, by-products and plant-based proteins such as soy, corn, and wheat should be avoided.
Carbohydrates form a lesser part of a diet to support joint health but are still an important aspect of any well-rounded canine diet. These can be derived from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. In fruits and vegetables, those that are rich in antioxidants are preferred as they contribute to the development of a strong immune system.
Healthy fats lubricate joints and provide dogs with the energy they need to remain active. These are best obtained from animal sources and include such ingredients as chicken fat and oily fish.
One of the most important items to look for in a food to support joint health is the addition of the powerhouse supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. These may be added in powdered form but can also be present in a variety of different natural ingredients including the following:
- Shells from shellfish
- Beef trachea
- Pork tails
- Green-lipped mussels
- Chicken feet
- Knuckle bones
Since most dog foods do not contain items such as chicken feet, pork tails, and knuckle bones, these can be obtained from a butcher or high quality pet retailer and served independently of the dog’s diet.
Though not necessarily linked to joint health, prebiotics and probiotics assist with proper digestion and are an excellent addition to any top quality food for dogs.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Joints
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in the best dog food for joints:
- 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