Dealing with chronic arthritis is never an easy proposition, and without proper managements the disease can be just as debilitating for your dog as it is for human sufferers. Fortunately, just like human arthritis, most cases of canine arthritis respond well to a comprehensive treatment plan and some modest lifestyle changes, and feeding your dog a diet that aids this treatment process can be a remarkably effective way to keep your beloved pet in good condition.
Dog food manufacturers have created a wide variety of special food blends, both dry and wet, for dogs suffering from arthritis; these foods are filled with nutrients and supplements intended to help improve your dog's mobility and reduce pain and stiffness. However, not all food blends intended for arthritic dogs are created equal, so to make sure your dog has the best chance possible of living a long, healthy and pain-free life you should keep an eye out for the following key properties of a good food blend:
Arthritis can affect almost all of the joints in a dog's body, and in more advanced cases even the act of chewing can become difficult for an afflicted dog, as the tissues around the hinges of the jaw bone become inflamed and lose mobility. This can make your dog reluctant to eat properly, causing problems with weight loss and malnutrition that can worsen your dog's condition.
If your dog is an older dog suffering from advanced arthritis, you should probably consider steering clear of dried, kibble-based food blends in favour of softer wet foods. These are more likely to be eaten by an arthritic dog to ensure they get the full nutritional profile they require. Liquid foods and soups are very useful for elderly arthritic dogs.
Little to no grain content
The lion's share of mass-produced dog food blends on the market contain significant amounts of grains, such as wheat and barley. These are used as a low-cost filler designed to reduce manufacturing costs and make your dog feel fuller, but add next-to-nothing to the nutritional value of a food blend. However, an arthritic dog can have far more problems with high-grain foods than the average dog. The gluten found in most grains can exacerbate inflammation in tissues, therefore increasing pain and stiffness in your dog's joints and worsening their condition.
To avoid this unpleasant outcome, ensure that the food blend you choose has the smallest amount of grain-based filler content you can find. However, this doesn't mean that you have to break the bank feeding your dog fresh cuts of pure meat; many blends intended for arthritic dogs replace grain-based filler with carbohydrates taken from fruits and vegetables, which are a far healthier choice. Foods that use sweet potato or carrots for carbohydrate content can be particularly beneficial, as these roots contain beta carotene, a substance known to reduce inflammation.
High omega-3 content
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their health benefits when eaten by humans, and dogs, particularly arthritic ones, can benefit just as much from eating them. A powerful anti-inflammatory, omega-3 can dramatically reduce the amount of pain and stiffness your dog feels if eaten in sufficient quantities.
Omega-3 is found in very high quantities in oily fish, such as herring, salmon and mackerel, so a food blend rich in these or similar fish should provide a significant health boost for your dog. However, omega-3 levels are generally reduced by processing, so try to opt for a blend that is not overly-processed. If you can't find a suitably fish-rich food (or your dog simply doesn't have a taste for fish), consider adding omega-3 to your dog's diet as a separate supplement.