Arthritis and Nutrition for Dogs
Approximately 20% of dogs of all ages suffer from painful osteoarthritis in one or more joints. The incidence of osteoarthritis increases as dogs age. Because dogs are living longer than they did a decade or two ago, it is more likely than ever that every dog owner will face the issue of osteoarthritis at some point.
Nutritional science has made huge advances in our understanding of nutrition and its role in treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms. Owners can have a significant impact on the quality of life and daily activities of dogs with osteoarthritis by carefully choosing appropriate diets, depending on what your dog needs.
For years, it was presumed that extra weight simply put extra stress on joints with osteoarthritis, but obesity and weight are even more important factors in dogs with osteoarthritis than was thought. Veterinary research has revealed that the white fat that accumulates in overweight and obese dogs actually secretes inflammatory and pro-inflammatory hormones that contribute to the inflammation and pain of osteoarthritis.
Therefore, a primary goal is to help an overweight or obese dog burn fat and preserve or build muscle. In dogs with osteoarthritis, it is best to target a very lean body condition versus a slightly heavy one. If your veterinarian uses a 1 to 5 body condition scoring, the target should be 2.75/5. If your veterinarian uses a 1 to 9 body condition scoring, the target should be 4.25/9. Your veterinarian can prescribe a specific diet and daily portion to accomplish this goal.
Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA, provide demonstrable joint support. It is important for the level of omega-3 fatty acids to be high enough to make an impact on the joints. One option may be to supplement the chosen diet with a triglyceride form of omega-3 fatty acid that is easily absorbed. Your veterinarian is the very best source for evaluating the nutritional science, the various nutritional products, and your pet's needs. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation regarding your specific pet's diet. In many cases of osteoarthritis the need for medications can be reduced by appropriate therapeutic nutrition.
Many senior dogs with osteoarthritis also have other diseases, such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and liver disease, among others. Chronic diseases in dogs can now often be effectively managed using specific therapeutic nutrient diet. Your veterinarian will help you set priorities from a nutritional perspective in order to choose a diet that is the best fit for your pet and his or her particular needs.
This information is not a replacement for a veterinary consultation.
Please contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss your pet's nutritional needs and/or an examination.
Please call us if you have any concerns or questions regarding your pet's health and care. (480) 893-0533
For additional information about Nutritional Counseling, Pet Foods, and Senior Pet Medicine and Care, please visit these links to our corresponding pages.