Yes, arthritis mostly affects older dogs, with age and genetic predisposition playing an important role in its development. But arthritis and other joint diseases can affect dogs of any age. In younger dogs, the early onset is usually triggered by an injury or physical trauma. But did you know that it is estimated that over 50% of dogs will develop arthritis during their lifetime?
Joint problems, such as arthritis, are usually caused by inflammation in the area that leads to the breakdown of cartilage. As a result, the bones can no longer move freely. Even the simplest movements can cause a dog to experience extreme pain and stiffness. Some dog breeds are also particularly prone to arthritis. These include golden retrievers, Labradors, Springer spaniels, Rottweilers, German shepherds and Bernese mountain dogs. If you own one of these breeds, or have another breed that is showing signs of arthritis or has been officially diagnosed, it is imperative that you, as a pet owner, know how to prevent and help your dog with their symptoms.... One way to do this is through diet.
WHAT IS THE BEST DOG FOOD FOR ARTHRITIS?
A good, healthy, targeted arthritis diet for dogs can make a big difference for a dog with this condition.
If you are currently feeding your dog commercial food, be aware that many of these products contain refined grains that can worsen arthritis symptoms and further promote inflammation in the body. If possible, opt for oily fish as your main protein source. Alternatively, try alternating it with lean meats like chicken, which provide a variety of enzymes and nutrients. Reach for boneless sardines, salmon or mackerel as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for every body (including ours!) and are naturally anti-inflammatory. Omega fatty acids can contribute to better joint lubrication, which can improve mobility and relieve arthritic symptoms. Eggs and red meat can unfortunately worsen inflammation. Try feeding your dog whole grains and colorful vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and cooked squash instead, as well as fruits like bananas and blueberries, as these are natural, safe antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body.
For more on this, read our article on what foods are toxic to dogs so you know what fruits and vegetables to avoid at all costs.
The most important thing you can still do for your arthritic dog is to keep his weight at a healthy level. Being overweight is the worst thing an arthritic dog can have. Excess fat means excess inflammation, which will make your dog's already existing pain and discomfort even worse. The extra stress that a few extra pounds can put on already painful and stiff joints is unprecedented. So make sure your dog is at a healthy weight that is appropriate for his size and breed. Also, be sparing with treats and watch portion sizes. If you're not sure whether or not your dog is overweight, ask your veterinarian and get their advice.