Joint health and our dog’s diets are far more closely related than we think.
There are a few general points that need to be made when it comes to your dog’s diet, and then specific ingredients that you can include to help reduce inflammation and boost your dog’s mobility.
Remember, food is the cause and the solution for so many different degenerative issues.
- Gut Health
- What and how to feed?
It is already accepted that when intestinal dysbiosis (gut microbiome imbalance) occurs, the whole dog, person or organism for that matter, suffers from several metabolic and inflammatory diseases.
However, it’s most definitely the case that incorrect diet causes gut microbiome imbalance, and research has shown that this can lead to inflammatory diseases.
Osteoarthritis in particular is a reflection of an inflammatory disease that is massively affected by gut health and diet. It’s a common chronic disease in dogs that in the long run leads to a degradation of cartilage and bone, abnormal growth of bone tissue and inflammation of the joints causing pain, stiffness, and loss of functionality of the joints.
A natural fresh food diet, with a good amount of meat is imperative to restoring gut microbiome balance in dogs.
Causes of gut dysbiosis include adverse food reactions, owners will likely see their dog getting diarrhoea fairly regularly, itching, licking paws and throwing up yellow bile or white foam.
Too many unnatural foods, highly processed foods or diets too high in carbohydrates.
Dogs that have had many rounds of antibiotics and steroids are also going to be more prone to gut issues, and therefore joint problems.
Obese dogs, because of the high stress (pressure) on their joints, and dogs with disorders such as diabetes, prolonged steroid treatment have a higher risk of developing joint issues.
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These ingredients must be included within a natural fresh food diet, to have maximum effect.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce joint inflammation and pain. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs include fish oil (salmon, sardines) and flaxseed oil.
My recommendation for Omega-3: Use the joint support recipe (in Ultimate Homemade Dog Food Handbook) or add 100g of raw fish, or 100g of cooked boneless fish per 500g/ 1lb at least twice a week.
- Lean Protein: High-quality, lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, or fish can help maintain muscle mass and support overall joint health
If your dog is overweight, reduce the fat content of the diet by using lean protein sources. Maintaining muscle is a hugely important part of maintaining mobility as your dog ages. It’s not the case that older dogs need less protein, this is entirely wrong.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These are natural compounds found in cartilage and can help maintain joint health and improve joint function. This is found to be most bioavailable in raw bones (wings and feet) and ground eggshell (with the membrane).
Natural food sources of these compounds, from raw meaty bones or ground eggshell are preferable to powdered supplements.
- Turmeric: This spice contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate joint pain in dogs.
Use 1/3 tsp per 500g or 1 lb of food.
- Green-Lipped Mussel: This mollusc is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin, making it beneficial for joint health.
You can buy these whole online! Way more effective and cheaper than a supplement. Use 1 per day or every other day if your dog is small. Store them in the freezer.
- Antioxidant-rich Foods: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, cranberries, and spinach, can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Frozen berries are the best for antioxidants, and make life easier and cheaper for you. Berries should not make up for more than 10% of your dog’s diet (maximum!).
- Bone Broth: Homemade bone broth can provide essential nutrients for joint health, including collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
This is next level hydration, and also a unique source of proteins. Two important parts for maintaining healthy joints. Give your dog 50ml per 10 kg of body weight, either daily or every other day.
Want to learn more about natural dog food? Check out my ultimate recipe e-book.
Cintio, Michela, et al. "Gut microbiome of healthy and arthritic dogs." Veterinary Sciences 7.3 (2020): 92.
Musco, Nadia, et al. "Effects of a nutritional supplement in dogs affected by osteoarthritis." Veterinary medicine and science 5.3 (2019): 325-335