Primary Blog/A Guide to healthy foods for arthritis in dogs.

A Guide to healthy foods for arthritis in dogs.

Canine arthritis can be a challenging condition for our furry companions, impacting their mobility and overall quality of life. But did you know that diet plays a crucial role when dealing with canine arthritis? Find out what to do ad what not to do when it comes to foods for arthritis in dogs!

​Dietary changes can help soothe the pain in his joints, and more importantly, a well-structured arthritis diet for dogs ensures proper weight management which is key to alleviating the symptoms.

What is Arthritis in Dogs?​

Arthritis is a common condition in dogs characterized by inflammation and deterioration of the joints. It typically occurs as a result of the gradual wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the bones in the joints.

Imagine your dog's joints are like a rusty hinge on a door that needs some oil to move smoothly. Arthritis can make it harder for your dog to walk, run, or play like they used to.

Causes of Arthritis and Common Arthritis symptoms in Dogs:

Arthritis in dogs can develop due to various factors, including aging, genetics, obesity, previous joint injuries, developmental disorders, and certain diseases. Large dog breeds and overweight dogs are more prone to developing arthritis.

The primary symptom of dog arthritis, is joint pain, which can cause stiffness, limping, lameness, and difficulty moving. Dogs with arthritis may also exhibit decreased activity levels, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, muscle atrophy, and behavioral changes. In some cases, the affected joints may appear swollen or warm to the touch.

The symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs do overlap with other degenerative joint diseases. If you notice even the slightest of these signs, hop along to the vet, they will conduct a physical exam and a few other tests if needed to confirm the condition.

Types of Canine Arthritis:

1. Osteoarthritis (OA):
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease resulting from the breakdown of cartilage, leading to bone-on-bone contact, inflammation, pain, and limb dysfunction. It commonly affects dogs with other orthopedic diseases or can occur without a clear primary cause.

Think your pup has Osteoarthritis? Find out where they lie and how to treat OA based on the stages of progression.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing chronic joint inflammation when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, resulting in pain, inflammation, and lameness.

3. Infectious Arthritis:
Caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, infectious arthritis occurs when microorganisms enter the joint, leading to inflammation and joint damage. It can be a primary infection or a secondary complication.

4. Immune-Mediated Arthritis:
This form of arthritis involves an abnormal immune response targeting the joints, leading to inflammation and damage. It may have a genetic component and is not well understood.

5. Traumatic Arthritis:
Traumatic arthritis develops after joint injuries such as fractures, ligament tears, or dislocations, disrupting joint structure and function, and resulting in arthritis.

6. Hypertrophic Arthritis:
Hypertrophic arthritis is characterized by abnormal bone growth in the joint, causing pain, reduced joint mobility, and joint deformities. It is commonly seen in large and giant breeds.

Importance of Diet in Dogs with arthritis

While there is no cure for arthritis, treatment focuses on managing the pain and improving the dog’s quality of life. One of the ways you can alleviate your dog’s arthritis symptoms is through a supportive diet.

How a Diet Affects Joint Health?
A good healthy diet helps provide your dog with everything they need to keep themselves healthy.
There are a few reasons why you would want to consider a dietary change if your pooch has arthritis.

If your dog is overweight, a dietary change to help them shed the extra pounds can greatly relieve the stress placed on your dog’s joints. Research shows that by reducing your dogs weight by 10-20% can greatly affect their mobility.

If your dog happens to be fit and fab- you might want to consider a dietary change- there are a few ingredients that can exacerbate your arthritic symptoms directly by increasing inflammation, or indirectly by having your dog gain weight as their activity level drops with arthritis.

How do you make these changes?

Let’s start with the basics, Foods to Avoid for Dogs with Arthritis:

1. Grains:

If your dog has arthritis, it is advisable to consider a grain-free diet. Many commercial dog foods often contain filler grains like wheat, rice, soy, and spelt, which can cause fluctuations in your dog’s blood sugar levels and increase painful swelling. A grain-free diet can help reduce inflammation but do consult your vet as some dogs do well with some amount of grain in their diet.

2. Corn:​

Corn is a controversial ingredient found in many dog foods. It has a high carbohydrate content and can lead to inflammation in some dogs. While immediate adverse reactions may not be visible, long-term consumption of corn can cause chronic inflammation over time.

3. Omega-6 Fatty Acids:

Most commercial diets for dogs are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in cheaper oils like corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, and canola oils. Excess omega-6s can contribute to inflammation. Providing a high-quality omega-3 fatty acids supplement can help maintain a balance and reduce inflammation, lubricate joints and improve joint range of motion.

4. Fatty Proteins:

Maintaining a healthy weight is detrimental when dealing with an arthritic dog, so it’s important to choose lean proteins like chicken, turkey, or grass-fed meat. Fatty proteins can contribute to weight gain, and even a slight excess weight can worsen arthritis pain and decrease the dog’s quality of life. But it is not just about the increased pressure on your dogs joints, fat also causes increased inflammation of the joints as they produce hormones – like leptin – that cause and increase inflammation.

5. Added Salts, Sugars, and Artificial Additives:

Highly processed foods with added salts, sugars, and artificial additives are more likely to contribute to inflammation. Dog foods without these ingredients not only help improve your dogs joints but overall health!

6. Treats and Table Scraps:

Not all human food is dog food. Be mindful when giving your pup a treat or two- I know puppy eyes are hard to escape!

Processed treats often contain high amounts of salt, fat, and sugar, which can contribute to inflammation. Opt for natural alternatives like baby carrots, fruit pieces, or dehydrated veggies, and choose treats with natural ingredients and break them into smaller portions to control calorie intake.

When selecting food for an arthritic dog, carefully read labels and avoid the mentioned foods as much as possible. It’s crucial to provide a diet that acts as medicine for their body, rather than a source of toxins.

The Right Foods for Arthritis in Dogs

How can diet help with arthritis in dogs?
Certain diets can help relieve symptoms of arthritic joints and can cause a decrease in pain. Some foods contain anti-inflammatory qualities that can help relieve the symptoms making it a useful tool when it comes to maintaining a proper weight for dogs with arthritis.

Kibble Vs. Canned Food Vs. Homemade meals

1. Kibble:

Kibble is a popular choice due to its convenience and affordability. It is easy to store, has a longer shelf life, and provides a balanced diet when formulated with quality ingredients. Some kibbles also offer specific formulations for joint health, containing added nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin.

However, not all kibbles are created equal. Many commercial brands contain fillers, artificial additives, and low-quality ingredients that may contribute to inflammation and poor joint health. It’s essential to carefully read the labels and choose high-quality kibbles without grains, excessive carbohydrates, and additives.

2. Canned Food:

Canned food is known for its higher moisture content, palatability, and potentially better ingredient quality compared to some kibbles. The increased moisture can support hydration, which is important for joint health. Canned food may also provide better taste and texture for dogs with decreased appetite due to arthritis pain.

On the downside, canned food can be more expensive and has a shorter shelf life once opened. It’s important to choose options that are low in sodium and don’t contain excessive fillers or artificial additives. Additionally, some canned foods may not provide the necessary balance of nutrients, so it’s important to ensure a complete and balanced diet.

3. Homemade Meals:

Homemade meals can offer the advantage of complete control over ingredients and quality. This allows you to tailor the diet specifically to your dog’s needs and preferences. Homemade meals can include lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and supplements known to support joint health.

However, preparing homemade meals requires careful planning and understanding of a dog’s nutritional requirements. It can be time-consuming and may require consultation with a veterinary nutritionist to ensure a well-balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Homemade meals can also be more expensive and may not be suitable for every pet owner.

The Bottom Line:​

When choosing the best diet for a dog with arthritis, it’s important to prioritize high-quality ingredients, joint-supporting nutrients, and balanced nutrition. While kibble offers convenience, select options without grains and additives. Canned food provides higher moisture content and palatability, but be cautious of sodium levels. Homemade meals allow complete control but require careful planning and consultation.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to determine the most suitable diet for your dog’s specific needs. Regular monitoring, along with a healthy diet, can significantly contribute to managing canine arthritis and improving your furry friend’s quality of life.

Foods to Boost Joint Health

Choosing Nutrients for Healthy Joints in Dog Food

When it comes to promoting healthy joints in your arthritic dog, selecting the right ingredients is essential. While we have discussed the ingredients to avoid in kibble or canned food, let’s focus on the nutrients you should prioritize:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3s are effective in reducing inflammation and balancing omega-6 levels in the body.

Look for a diverse omega-3 profile, such as green-lipped mussel and a wide variety of fish, which efficiently combats joint pain and inflammation.

2. Lean Protein:

Lean protein supports muscles and soft tissues that protect joints without contributing to weight gain. Opt for chicken, turkey, or grass-fed meat.

3. Glucosamine:

Glucosamine is an amino sugar essential for maintaining healthy cartilage and joint function. It is often added to dog foods targeting joint health, especially for older dogs or those with arthritis.

While you can find glucosamine naturally in certain foods, it is usually not enough to provide your pup with the support they need

4. Chondroitin:

Chondroitin promotes water retention and elasticity in cartilage, enhancing mobility of joint structures and inhibiting the breakdown of cartilage and joint fluid.

5. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM):

MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur that rejuvenates cells, acts as an antioxidant, and relieves pain and inflammation in joints.

6. Hyaluronic Acid (HA):

HA serves as a shock absorber and lubricates joint fluid. Supplementing HA can be beneficial for older or highly active dogs, as well as those with joint issues.

7. Cetyl Myristoleate:

This natural fatty acid found in certain animals acts as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and immune system modulator.

8. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid):

Dogs with joint problems may require additional vitamin C as an antioxidant to protect against free radicals and aid in the absorption of other beneficial ingredients.

These nutrients are commonly found in high-quality canned and kibble dog foods designed for joint health. Alternatively, you can provide them in supplement form, such as GlycanAid, which contains multiple ingredients in one convenient joint supplement.

By incorporating these nutrients into your arthritic dog’s diet, you can help soothe their system, promote healing, prevent further joint deterioration, and effectively manage arthritis pain. Make an informed choice and provide your beloved pet with an anti-inflammatory diet to support their joint health and overall well-being.

Tips for Implementing Dietary Changes

If you are planning on implementing any of these dietary changes here are a few tips to set you up for success.

​Transitioning a dog to a new diet requires a gradual and careful approach to avoid digestive upset and ensure a smooth adjustment. Here are some tips to help you transition your dog to a new diet:

1. Gradual Transition:

Introduce the new diet gradually over a period of 7 to 10 days. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the current food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food while decreasing the old food. This gradual transition allows the dog’s digestive system to adapt slowly.

2. Monitor Digestive Health:

Keep a close eye on your dog’s stool during the transition period. Loose stools or gastrointestinal upset may indicate that the transition is happening too quickly. If this occurs, slow down the transition process or temporarily revert to the previous diet and consult with your veterinarian if needed.

3. Consistency:

Maintain consistency during the transition. Stick to the same feeding schedule and portion sizes as much as possible. Dogs thrive on routine, and consistency helps them adjust to the new diet more easily.

4. Patience:

Every dog’s food well is different, and some may take longer to adapt to a new diet than others. Be patient and allow your dog the time they need to adjust. Rushing the transition can cause unnecessary stress and digestive issues.

5. Palatability:

If your dog is hesitant to eat the new food, you can enhance its appeal by mixing in small amounts of warm water or low-sodium chicken broth. Gradually reduce the addition of these flavor enhancers as your dog becomes more accustomed to the new diet.​

6. Professional Guidance:

If you have concerns or specific dietary requirements for your dog, consult with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. They can provide personalized guidance based on your dog’s specific needs and help you choose an appropriate diet.

All diet adjustments need the approval of a vet, especially if your pup has arthritis. If your dog has a very sensitive stomach or digestive system, you should gradually change your diet to avoid any transitioning problems.

​Remember, a gradual transition is key to minimizing digestive upset and ensuring your dog’s well-being during the switch to a new diet.

How long does it take to see improvements with dietary changes?

The timeline for seeing improvements in joint health after making dietary changes for canine arthritis can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the arthritis, the dog’s overall health, and the specific dietary modifications made.

In general, it’s important to understand that dietary changes alone may not provide immediate or drastic improvements in joint health. However, over time, they can contribute to better joint function and overall well-being.

It is commonly recommended to give dietary changes at least several weeks to a few months to assess their impact on joint health. This timeframe allows for the dog’s body to adjust to the new diet, for nutrients to be absorbed and utilized, and for any inflammation to potentially decrease.

Consistency is key when evaluating the effects of dietary changes. Continuously providing a balanced, joint-supportive diet and closely monitoring the dog’s overall condition, including mobility, pain levels, and any changes in joint function, will help determine the effectiveness of the dietary modifications.

It’s important to understand that dietary changes should be part of a comprehensive approach to managing canine arthritis. Other interventions, such as appropriate exercise, both weight loss and management, and veterinary-prescribed treatments like medication or physical therapy, may also be necessary to maximize the benefits for the dog’s joint health.

​It’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian who can provide guidance specific to your dog’s condition and monitor their progress over time. They can help set realistic expectations and make any necessary adjustments to the dog’s health, dietary plan or treatment approach as needed.

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