A common ailment that afflicts both humans and dogs is osteoarthritis. This has led to an explosion in demand for NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Humans often use drugs like Naprosyn and Ibuprofen to reduce the pain, while dogs are often prescribed Rimadyl (carprofen) or Deramaxx (deracoxib) to name a few.
While these drugs can certainly help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis, they do not solve the underlying problem, nor can they reduce the likelihood that the disease will even occur. This is where diet can help. There are an assortment of foods that can help keep joints healthy and even help to repair joints that are in an arthritic state.
Nutrients for Healthy Joints
Copper. Copper is needed by the body to manufacture collagen, which is crucial component of connective tissue.
Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in copper include garbanzo beans and lentils, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C, like copper, is used in the formation of collagen, which is important for connective tissue regeneration.
Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in Vitamin C include berries, broccoli, and kale.
Fish Oil. In a U.K. study at Cardiff University led by Bruce Caterson, Ph.D., cod liver oil was shown to stop or slow down cartilage-eating enzymes in knee joints. This combined with its anti-inflammatory benefits means fish oil packs a punch when it comes to keeping joints healthy.
Salmon, haddock, and sardines are commonly used in dog food formulas.
Water. Proper hydration is needed to keep the joints adequately lubricated and allows them to move and flex as the body demands. Dehydration can lead to stiff tendons and ligaments which might increase the chances of injury.
Make sure that your dog has an ample supply of fresh, cool water in a convenient location. Refill and refresh the water bowl several times each day.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are important structural components of joint cartilage, and these nutrients are probably the most common form of joint health supplement in the market. Although there has been some mixed research on the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin with regards to joint health, there has also been a plethora of published research supporting its benefits on joint health.
There aren’t many foods that are high in glucosamine and chondroitin so supplementation is usually the best way to add this to a dog’s diet. Bone gristle and meat cartilage as well as the shell of shrimp contain glucosamine and chondroitin.
Anti-inflammatories. Because osteoarthritis is thought of as an inflammatory disease, foods that are anti-inflammatory can help prevent or at least ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis. (We will be writing a separate piece on anti-inflammatory nutrients in the coming weeks). Some of the more powerful anti-inflammatories include turmeric, bromelain (found in pineapple), fish oil, and ginger.
Steve is an advocate for healthy pet food offerings.