Some dogs endure joint pain throughout their lives, with certain breeds being more prone than others. Other dogs develop joint pain as they age. It can be devastating to see out canine companions in pain so knowing what is best for dogs with joint pain will certainly help. In this blog, we delve into the nature of joint pain in dogs, how to identify it, explore the best natural foods to help dogs with joint pain. We will discuss additional ways to aid dogs with joint pain and give you some information on preventing joint pain in dogs.
What is Joint Pain in Dogs, and How Can We Recognise It?
Joint pain in dogs exhibits several telltale signs. If your dog limps or struggles to navigate smooth or slippery surfaces, it's likely they are experiencing joint pain. Similarly, if your dog takes extra time to leap onto the sofa or into a car, this could be a sign of joint discomfort. Dogs with severe joint pain may vocalise their discomfort through whining when their joints are touched or during movement. It's important to look carefully when trying to determine if your dog has joint pain. Dogs don't usually complain unless there is something seriously wrong!
Common conditions associated with joint pain in dogs include:
Arthritis in dogs: Arthritis leads to swollen and painful joints in dogs. While it cannot be cured, effective management is possible, and various types of canine arthritis can be diagnosed by a veterinarian.
Joint trauma in dogs: Dogs, like humans, can experience ligament sprains, joint fractures, and dislocations, which can be identified through consultation with a veterinarian.
Other joint-related conditions: Abnormal development of joint areas can result in conditions such as hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and shoulder dysplasia in dogs. Consultation with a veterinarian is essential if you suspect any of these conditions.
Which Dogs are Prone to Joint Pain?
Certain dogs are more susceptible to joint pain than others. Breeds with long, slender limbs are at higher risk, as well as those with a history of inbreeding that has led to unnatural joint formations. For example, German Shepherds are bred for their sloping hips, Rottweilers for denser muscle than their frames can handle, and Dachshunds for long spines, all contributing to joint problems.
Larger dogs carry more weight on their joints and are thus more susceptible to joint issues. Breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Mastiffs are particularly at risk. Additionally, dogs that gain weight easily, like Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are prone to joint pain due to excess weight.
Can Natural Foods Alleviate Your Dog's Joint Pain?
Regardless of the specific condition your dog faces, their diet plays a crucial role in managing the condition and alleviating pain. Excess weight places added pressure on a dog's joints, making a natural, balanced diet essential for maintaining their health and ideal weight. Avoiding unhealthy treats can also aid in weight management and overall well-being.
Feeding your dog natural, healthy ingredients rich in anti-inflammatory properties can help manage joint conditions and relieve pain. Organic fruits and vegetables are particularly effective at easing joint pain, as their antioxidants can counteract harmful free radicals that contribute to inflammation. It is important to avoid feeding your dog certain foods, such as onions, leeks, grapes, and raisins, which are harmful to dogs. A balanced, fresh plant-based diet prepared at home with minimal processing is an excellent way to maximise the intake of beneficial antioxidants. Increasing levels of antioxidants can help to reduce cartilage loss, improve current symptoms of joint pain, swelling and inflammation. Fleetful offers organic recipe kits for those seeking a convenient way to provide their dogs with a balanced homemade plant-based diet.
Additionally, incorporating hemp into your dog's diet can be highly beneficial. Hemp contains Omega 6 fatty acids, including GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), known for its anti-inflammatory properties, similar to medications like ibuprofen. Fleetful offer vet nutritionist balanced recipe and treat kits that contain the right amount of hemp.
The Best Natural Foods to Help Dogs with Joint Pain
Fresh fruit and veggies are all full of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties but these are our top 5 natural foods to help dogs with joint pain. Consult your veterinarian nutritionist if not adding these as part of a balanced recipe. Ingredients must be added in moderation.
- Sweet Potaoes
Case Study - Cash the Giant Schnauzer
Meet Cash, a wise and elderly Giant Schnauzer, who has battled severe arthritis over time. In the photo, you'll notice the muscle mass loss in his left hip, a result of his struggle to walk comfortably. Despite undergoing Librela injections, physiotherapy, and hydrotherapy sessions, Cash's condition showed little improvement. His devoted owner, who had been feeding him a raw diet, made a choice to transition Cash to a wholesome, plant-based diet with the help of Dr Arielle Griffiths. Cash's owner said: “He seemed to enjoy his fresh vegan meals right from the start. I have been introducing homemade supplemented vegan meals to him for the last month, but still mixed in with his normal whole rabbit meals. But he hasn’t had rabbit for the last 4 days now. Normally he has not wanted to walk for more than 10 – 15 minutes at a time. But this morning for the first time in many months, he chose to keep walking and we walked for around 40 mins!We were amazed, and VERY VERY happy!”
What Foods Should Be Avoided for Dogs with Joint Pain?
Foods that cause joint inflammation should be avoided for dogs with joint pain. Highly processed diets containing added sugars and preservatives are detrimental to dogs with joint pain. Additionally, red meat is inflammatory, so it's advisable to consider alternative protein sources or switch to a fresh, animal protein-free diet. Processed red meat products, such as packaged treats, kibble, and tinned dog food, may exacerbate joint inflammation and offer little in the way of anti-oxidants.
Processed dog food and treats full of colourants and preservatives will do little to help your dogs joints. They will only add to your dog's weight, putting extra strain on your dog's joints.
Feeding your dog a fresh organic diet will also mean that it is easier for them to stay sit and healthy, thus resulting less pressure on those precious joints.
Why are Natural Foods Ideal for Dogs' Joints?
Natural foods for dogs are minimally processed and free from added chemicals, such as preservatives, colourants, and sugars. A diet rich in natural, organic foods benefits both humans and their canine companions. Processed foods, including processed meat, kibble, and tinned dog food, undergo extensive processing to extend shelf life, potentially leading to the loss of valuable nutrients and freshness. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are best consumed in their freshest state. The processing of dog food, in any form, reduces nutrient content and may strip away vital antioxidants that support immune health and protect cells, including those in the joints.
What is 'Golden Paste' for Dogs' Joints?
You may have come across 'golden paste,' a natural remedy that anecdotal reports suggest can aid dogs with joint inflammation. It is made from a mixture of water, turmeric, and coconut oil.
Additional Ways to Help Dogs with Joint Pain:
If your dog is experiencing joint pain, consider these steps:
Limit physical activity: Opt for short, leisurely walks that allow your dog to explore and stimulate their senses while avoiding strenuous activities that might exacerbate joint pain.
Provide traction: Place mats on smooth surfaces to prevent slipping, as dog paws and legs are not designed for such surfaces. This is especially important for dogs prone to joint pain. Photo courtesy of Dr Arielle's Plant-Based Dog Nutrition Course.
Assist with getting into vehicles: If your dog has difficulty jumping into cars, offer them a ramp or physically assist them. This helps preserve joint health.
Avoid repetitive physical activities: Some dogs may benefit from activities like ball throwing or agility, but those with longer, weaker limbs may suffer long-term consequences. Assess your dog's individual needs.
Consider supplements: Dogs with severe joint conditions may benefit from additional supplements alongside natural foods. You can explore options like the supplement offered by Just Be Kind Dog Food.
- Adding in Omega 3 DHA and EPA Algae Oil into your dog's diet is a great way to ensure that your dogs joints stay healthy. Fleetful offer this in their Mighty Millet and Quinoa recipe kit or you can purchase it in the Just Be Kind shop.
By following these guidelines and incorporating natural, anti-inflammatory foods into your dog's diet, you can provide them with the best possible support for managing joint pain and maintaining a healthy, active life.