Whether you are looking to prevent or manage arthritis in dogs, there are a number of steps that owners can take, utilising dog supplements and a raw dog food diet. In the first instance, it is important to understand what arthritis in dogs is and how it occurs. This will help you to understand how to safeguard your dog against the impact of conditions such as degenerative joint disease and hip dysplasia.
Canine arthritis usually occurs in older dogs and is not uncommon in large dogs, overweight dogs or those that are super active. It can develop from an early age in younger dogs without explanation however.
The term ‘arthritis’ is quite general and means anything that affects the joints. One example is Hip Dysplasia; the abnormal conformation and misaligned stress points of the coxofemoral joint.
As the cartilage surrounding the joints which help to keep the surfaces smooth and able to glide across each other, breaks down and becomes rough, with movement, the bone surfaces then rub together causing friction. This leads to additional bone being produced, movement becomes limited and the joints degenerate.
From simply looking at a dog and examining the joints, it is hard to see any physical symptoms. It is more about recognising a problem with their behaviour and general demeanour.
As arthritis causes pain and stiffness, you will notice that the dog seems less enthused about exercise and can become grumpy and reluctant to move around too much. You may notice them being more ‘careful’ when getting up or lying down. They may also lick at the affected areas to try and ease the pain. This repeated and sustained licking can alert owners to the fact that there is a problem.
While arthritis can occur in any dog, there are some breeds that are more predisposed to the condition.
Large, heavier dogs including German Shepherds, Great Danes, Newfoundlands and the Bull breeds, in particular can suffer from joint problems like degenerative joint disease and hip dysplasia due to their sheer size and the additional demands placed on their joints.
Super-active dogs like working or agility dogs can also be prone as can trauma victims. Surgery involving a joint this can also lead to future problems with canine arthritis.
As well as ensuring that your dog is eating a good diet, it is also important to offer a supplement like Flexx that includes ingredients that will help to prevent any degenerative joint disorders from occurring in the first place.
If you have a larger breed this is especially important. Adding a supplement that is specifically designed to provide protection to the joints is a must. ProDog Flexx is a fantastic dog joint supplement full of all-natural, premium ingredients. It is specifically designed not only to help with joint protection but also to deliver additional benefits such as a healthy shiny coat and skin condition.
Once the arthritis in dogs has developed there is no magic cure but the right diet can help to manage the condition and ease the pain of sufferers. Many owners have found that a raw diet combined with a super strength supplement like ProDog Flexx delivers astonishing benefits. Dogs enjoy better movement and don’t suffer as much with the pain.
Flexx is a high strength, premium quality joint supplement that is produced using only superior, organic ingredients formulated to help assist with the prevention and management of arthritis in dogs.
Its formula is specifically designed to act as a joint protector and is suitable for all regardless of size or breed. The all natural properties of Flexx can help to maintain the structure of joints and promote both mobility and flexibility (hence its name).
In addition to this it also acts as an excellent coat conditioner with dogs boasting a noticeably glossy coat and optimum healthy skin.
MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) – Vital in the formation of keratin, collagen and elastin which gives flexibility, tone and strength to a dogs bones and joints. Addition to a dogs diet can help decrease joint pain and inflammation as a dogs natural MSM levels deplete with age. This natural sulphur is essential for joint and connective tissue strength and growth.
Fish Collagen & Oil – These are rich in the fatty acids (Omega 3, 6, and 9) which are all crucial for a dogs health, vitality, coat, and skin condition as well as joint support.
Hemp Protein – This is a key ingredient which, when combined with fish oils, radically improves the condition of a dogs skin and coat. In addition to this, it protects the ligaments and aids recovery from joint and muscle injury.
Turmeric – Has a host of benefits for any dogs health and wellbeing and is renowned for its superb anti-inflammatory properties, essential to reduce joint pain and swelling and soft tissue cartilage damage. A by-product of turmeric is curcumin which is the bioactive constituent of turmeric. Curcumin is the most important curcuminoid and very important to a dogs health, mobility and the protection of chrondocytes (developing bone cells).
Chlorella – Rich in chlorella growth factor which is enriched with nucleic acid. This helps to boost a dogs immune system which can decline with age, it also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. A low immune system can lead to various serious health issues, joint deterioration being one.
Chondroitin – A key component in a dogs cartilage. Healthy cartilage is essential for dogs to help prevent joint disease and degenerative hip dysplasia which can develop with age.
Glucosamine Sulphate – Used alongside Chondroitin, has been shown to help prevent the breakdown of damaged cartilage.
Vitamin C – Another excellent anti-inflammatory. Levels can deplete quickly when a dog is exercised or under stress. Supplementing a dog of any age with Vitamin C will provide greater resistance to many ailments and aid recovery from illness, infection, and exercise.
If you want to use Flexx we always recommend consulting your vet if your dog has any pre-disposed medical conditions. For fit and healthy dogs, other than the obvious joint problems, it can be added to their food as per the instructions. Very simply just add it to their food and mix it up if they are fussy about what they eat.
Like anything that you take or administer for a health issue, the benefits aren’t instant but over the course of a few weeks you should start to see a difference in your dogs behaviour.
They should enjoy greater mobility and flexibility and the obvious signs above all else will be the beautiful condition of their coat. If you have a puppy then it is a great way to ensure that you are giving them the best start in life and avoiding any potential health concerns later down the line.
There is loads you can do for your dog as they get a little stiffer in old age. Arthritis, the inflammation and degeneration of joints, will happen to the best of us. That’s the bad news.
The good news is how many options you have before you have to get anti-inflammatories from the vet. And once your dog is on prescribed drugs, you have lots of ways to support your dog’s joints.
I’ll make a list of things you can do. I’ll start with the mildest and easiest interventions and move up to the strongest or most inconvenient or expensive options.
You are what you eat. I think that if a dog has been living on a diet of ultra-processed food all of its life (poor thing), then they are likely to be overweight or obese (like 70% of the UK dog population – I kid you not).
Raw dog food or fresh food, balanced and varied, is the key for me. If you’re not familiar with this way of feeding, have a chat with one of the good commercial raw food producers to get you started. Discover our complete range and pure 80 10 10 raw dog food. New to raw? Read our beginner’s guide.
Feeding raw or fresh food gives the dog fresh protein, quality fats and nutrients. They are generally low in grain carbs (which help you put on and retain weight) and dogs really love them! Supplying quality building blocks stuffed with antioxidants is a great way to keep muscles and tendons healthy.
Having lots of bone and cartilage in the diet (either in minces or as recreational bones) is thought to help protect from wear and tear. My experience is that raw fed dogs seem to have better mobility and a longer health span (the length of time in your life you’re really healthy).
If I could bottle the effect losing weight has on the mobility of a dog, I’d be a billionaire overnight. Physics teaches us that force is mass (weight) multiplied by acceleration. You can’t really change how much your dog charges around (acceleration), but you can significantly reduce the forces acting on joints by reducing the dog’s weight.
There are body condition score charts on the net where you can see and read what the ideal body shape for any given dog type would be. We use the 1-9 grading system. If you listen to the kibble companies, they’d have you on a 5/9 body condition score. I think a 4/9 grade is even better.
For me, the quickest way to reduce weight gradually and safely is to feed raw, (find out what is raw dog food). Most dogs will do the work for you! On raw, feeding between 2-3% body weight should do the trick. Start at 2% and increase if the dog is over-hungry or losing weight too fast. Use our raw dog food calculator to work out how much to feed your dog.
Dog supplements or ‘functional foods’ as they’re called in the US are highly concentrated extras you add to the diet to help achieve particular aims. Some people call then nutraceuticals. If your dog is young or middle-aged and not showing any signs of arthritis or stiffness, then you may not need to add much beyond a good omega-3 source and herbs.
If your dog is looking a bit stiff in the mornings or on chilly or damp days, then the range of supplements you can choose from is wide. Look at the ingredients of the products on offer. Go for those with good quantities of these each day:
It sounds self-evident, but just letting mother nature heal any bumps and strains has a lot to be said for it. It costs nothing and is the basis for a lot of treatment for arthritis.
If your dog is not usually lame or stiff, then just keep them on the lead for a week, if they’re lame or sore, to allow the inflamed area to calm down and heal. If at any point you’re concerned, then nip along to the vets to get them checked.
If you’ve tried all the above and are still faced with persistent mild stiffness or lameness that doesn’t warrant a vet visit, then try homeopathics. A combination of Ruta grav, Rhus tox and Arnica in a 30c potency given twice daily, away from food, for two weeks might just help.
If you have an older dog who’s a little weak on their legs (or a growing puppy come to that), I always advise covering any shiny floors. Pups and oldies are prone to slipping, splaying and generally moving badly on floors with less grip. You can get grippy carpets/rugs easily to cover the shiny parquet or Lino slippiness.
Stairs, especially for older dogs, can be a trauma to joints. If their hips or stifles (knees) are bad, they’ll struggle to go up them. If their shoulders, elbows or wrists are bad, then coming down will be potentially problematic. Baby gates are worth their weight in gold here to limit access to stairs.
Getting a ramp for the car/van or four-wheel drive is often a good idea to save your back as much as helping the dog!
You’ll need a referral from your vet, but these people are fabulous from mid-life onward for most dogs, whether they’re stiff or not. They’ll help the dog use their joints and skeleton to maximum efficiency, help guide you with exercises, observations and advice. Most vets under-use them. Ask friends or people in the park for recommendations.
I’m not mentioning acupuncture here as this is the realm of a vet or acupuncturist working under a vet.
Hydro I’m saving for last because, although especially useful for dogs in all stages of arthritis, can be a bit pricey and certainly demands a lot of time from busy owners. Most dogs take to it very well.
There are two main types of hydro – swimming pool assisted swimming and treadmill hydro in a walk-in tank. It’s a bit horses for courses – some dogs don’t like swimming in pools, some don’t like the confinement of the treadmill tank. If I had to choose, I’d go for a treadmill tank as it’s a more controlled environment where the hydro therapist can alter the water depth from a few centimetres to full submersion.
It’s definitely worth talking to your local hydro therapist. Most will work in conjunction with vets. They are, on the whole, a knowledgeable and highly dedicated bunch.
Most dogs need some pharmaceutical help in advanced arthritis. However, there are many options to support joints and help them with pain before you get to that stage.
The time to start treating for arthritis is at the first hint of stiffness, if not putting support in place in mid-life. Talk to your vet about ALL the options, not just the ones available through their practice. Together you can give your pet the longest, strongest least painful health span.