Best Dog Food for Dogs with Arthritis: What They Should & Shouldn’t Eat

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Food matters a lot when managing canine arthritis. A good diet will ease the discomforts of arthritis, as well as slow down the progression of this long-term condition. So, learning what’s the best dog food for dogs with arthritis will help your canine have an easier time growing old.

On the other hand, the wrong diet will increase inflammation, pain, and weight gain. Fido will have a hard time battling the discomforts.

Therefore, if you are a parent to an arthritic canine, don’t increase their suffering. Provide food that will help your furry buddy have a smooth life. If you are not sure of which food to give, here are the basics you ought to know.

What foods can arthritic dogs eat?

An arthritic diet is quite restrictive. It excludes common grains, fruits, proteins, and vegetables that dogs love. However, even with the restrictions, there are plenty of foods available for your canine’s next meal.

Not sure of which foods to give? Here are 12 types of food that will nourish your dog, while minimizing the discomforts associated with arthritis.

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. This dietary factor slows down arthritic inflammation, thereby reducing joint pain and stiffness.

Besides, sweet potatoes contain adequate levels of amino acids. Regular intake of this tuberous root vegetable will repair the connective tissues that could have degenerated as a result of osteoarthritis.

Pet nutritionists recommend sweet potatoes as a great alternative to grains. Why? They have a low glycemic index. Therefore, the sweet roots will neither aggravate inflammation, nor increase your dog’s weight.

2. Lean proteins

You cannot talk about best food for dogs with arthritis without mentioning lean proteins. They will replace the muscles that your canine loses as a result of the degenerative nature of arthritis, and muscle atrophy, a condition whereby the canine’s muscles waste away due to prolonged disuse.

Arthritic canines will need plenty of proteins to help build and repair lost muscles. Otherwise, your dog will grow weaker, and its normal body functions will start shutting down quickly.

While you can offer any animal protein, vets recommend that you go for lean proteins from chicken, tuna steak, grass-fed lamb, turkey, or any other animal source. Lean proteins are better than the fatty proteins which contain a lot of saturated fats, a bad dietary component for your dog’s arthritis.

3. Oily fish

Oily fish like salmon, albacore, herring, sardines, sprats, trouts, and mackerel are a great source of Omega 3, a very important fatty acid. Veterinarians claim that omega 3 from oily fish reduces inflammation and pain, thereby helping Fido have an easy time with arthritis.

Omega 3 in fish meat will also protect your canine against heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cognitive decline. These conditions are highly prevalent in inactive dogs living with arthritis.

Oily fish is not only rich in omega 3. But, they have a healthy dose of selenium, a trace nutrient that may help lower inflammation, which dogs are prone to when they have arthritis.

Since buying raw oily fish regularly can be quite costly, you can buy organic fish oil from pet stores, and use add it to your dog’s regular meals. High-quality fish oils like Grizzly Omega for dogs contain both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids got from wild-caught Pollock and Alaskan fish.

Adding the oil into your dog’s regular diet will prevent inflammation, improve the health of your dog’s connective tissues, and fight free radicals. The fish oil is also free of additives that could cause inflammation, so it’s beneficial for your dog.

4. Papaya fruit

The papaya fruit is rich in three very helpful compounds—papain, beta carotene, and omega 3. Researchers claim that papain reduces arthritic pain and inflammation in human beings. It has a similar effect in dogs too.

Likewise, papaya’s omega 3 and beta carotenes provide relief from inflammation and pain. The fruit will help Fido battle arthritis comfortably.

Apart from the anti-inflammatory compounds mentioned earlier, papayas contain a great deal of vitamin C, an antioxidant that prevents collagen damage. Also, the vitamin supports the formation of strong bones, ligaments, and blood vessels.

5. Celery

Celery isn’t just a spice for your delicacies. But, it is a great dietary component for the best food for dogs living with arthritis. It is rich in apigenin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that reduces pain in joints and other connective tissues.

Celery contains other important nutrients, flavonoids, and polyphenols to help your dog have an easy life with arthritis. It has anti-oxidants that help protect the cells from free radical damage.

Furthermore, celery is a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, and magnesium. These nutrients collaborate to help relax muscles that are in spasm or contracted due to arthritic joint pain.

6. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is another great dietary component for your canine with arthritis. These fatty acids and polyphenols in coconut oil reduce joint inflammation and pain, thereby helping Fido feel better overall.

With coconut oils’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, your dog will have added protection against diseases that can induce more suffering. You can use the oil regularly to spice up Fido’s usual diet.

7. Ginger

The natural capsaicin found in ginger is a great pain-reliever. In fact, some human studies show that ginger’s capsaicin has similar anti-inflammatory properties to COX-2 inhibitors and ibuprofen.

Based on the pain-relieving properties reported in human studies, veterinarians have a reason to believe that capsaicin can help your arthritic canine too.

Ginger has several other benefits for dogs with arthritis. It has adequate antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial compounds that can help fight diabetes and other common conditions in arthritic canines.

8. Turmeric

Curcumin, a compound that is abundant in turmeric, is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Various animal studies indicate that Curcumin reduces inflammation, pain, and joint stiffness, the primary discomforts associated with arthritis.

Turmeric’s Curcumin is potent enough to induce a similar effect as that of the NSAIDs used to manage arthritic pain and inflammation. You can feed it as fresh treats, add it to your dog’s arthritic diet, or look for a turmeric supplement from a pet store.

9. Blueberries

With tons of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, blueberries are great for your arthritic furry friend. They are high in manganese, which may help reduce inflammation and pain from arthritis. Manganese deficiencies have been shown to worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis in animals.

They’re also packed with antioxidants like quercitin, vitamin C, and flavonoids. The antioxidants help reduce the inflammation in your dog’s joints. Their low calorific value won’t add to the weight your pup is already carrying.

10. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a host of Vitamin A, C, and E, beta carotene, and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals collaborate to boost collagen production, a connective tissue that wears out excessively in canines with arthritis.

Also, the vitamins in pumpkin are strong antioxidants. They will prevent the destructive role of free radicals on your dog’ supportive and connective tissues. In place of pumpkin, you can give Fido squash and butternut. Their nutritional profile is similar to that of pumpkin.

11. Leafy veggies like spinach

Spinach contains kaempferol, a potent anti-inflammatory agent that reduces pain, joint stiffness, and other discomforts associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, spinach contains lots of antioxidants and natural compounds that will boost your dog’s overall wellness.

Besides spinach, you can give Fido other leafy vegetables like kale and collards. They contain enough antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and natural anti-inflammatory compounds. They will help reduce the discomforts associated with arthritis.

12. Commercial foods for arthritic dogs

Arthritic dogs aren’t restricted to a natural diet. If you have little time to source the raw ingredients and mix them up to make a wholesome meal for your dog, go for the commercial foods formulated for dogs with arthritis.

If you do not have time to study the multiple dog foods offered in stores, here is one that will nourish your dog while minimizing inflammation and pain.

Nulo Senior Dog Food for arthritic dogs

Nulo Senior dog food is a grain-free kibble made from lean proteins and low glycaemic carbs from sweet potatoes. The protein provides enough amino acids to build your arthritic dog’s muscles and tissues, while the low carbs provide enough energy without adding on your dog’s weight.

Unlike the usual dog foods, this arthritic diet is free of fillers and unhealthy additives. It doesn’t have soy, corn, potatoes, wheat, flavours, dyes, sugars, salts, and preservatives.

Nulo Senior’s nutritionists fortified this food for arthritic dogs with chondroitin and glucosamine. These compounds support the growth of cartilage, thereby reducing joint stiffness and pain.

Furthermore, this dog food for arthritic dogs contains L-Carnitine, a chemical that prevents Fido from gaining extra weight by converting stored fat into energy.

6 Foods to avoid giving to your arthritic canine

After learning about the kinds of food you can give to your furkid, below are 6 foods you must not give to your canine if they are already suffering from arthritis. If not, you’ll only add on to their sufferings.

1. Grains

Grains are not good for arthritic dogs. They’ll raise your dog’s blood sugar levels, thereby exacerbating uncomfortable effects like inflammation, swelling, and pain. That means your arthritic dog will have to endure hours of suffering after eating a meal with grains.

Furthermore, grains like rice, corn, and oats contain loads of starch. Regular consumption coupled with inadequate body activity will likely increase your arthritic canine’s body weight.

With increased body weight, your arthritic dog will experience added pressure on its joints. In return, your dog will find it hard to move around freely, and some lifestyle diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases will set in.

2. Nightshade veggies

While vegetables are great for dogs with arthritis, others will aggravate your canine’s arthritis. So, you should be wary of the veggies that you give your canine. Otherwise, you’ll end up worsening their medical situation.

Some of the vegetables to exclude from your dog’s diet include the nightshade veggies, a family of tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, bell pepper, and white potatoes. They contain glycoalkaloids, compounds that increase inflammation and pain.

3. Fillers

Dog food manufacturers use fillers to add bulk to dog food. While most of the fillers aren’t harmful to healthy canines, some may contribute to inflammation. For instance, the corn used in pet foods often contains high levels of gluten, a compound that can aggravate inflammation.

Starchy fillers can increase your dog’s weight, thereby adding more pressure on the already paining joints.

4. Fatty proteins

Dogs need protein to build muscle. But, fatty proteins can actually be harmful for your arthritic dog instead. How? The fat they contain isn’t healthy. Saturated fat can mess your dog’s cardiovascular system, thereby causing more suffering.

Likewise, polyunsaturated fats in proteins may cause inflammation in the joints and increase joints’ pain. Thus, it’s important that you do not feed your furkid with fatty proteins.

5. Added salts and sugars

Added sugar and salts, the ones found in processed food, can exacerbate the production of an inflammatory chemical known as cytokines. In response, your canine will get more inflammation, pain, and joint stiffness.

In addition, prolonged intake of added and sugars can increase your dog’s weight, thereby making mobility more painful. The added salts and sugars can indirectly increase suffering since they can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

6. Processed treats

Occasional treats aren’t bad for your arthritic dog. But, if you are that one parent who loves complimenting their canine with treats several times a day, you’ll have to substitute the processed ones with natural treats like carrots, dehydrated veggies, and fresh fruit.

Why? Most commercial treats contain lots of sugars, salts, dyes, fillers, fats, and other ingredients that can cause inflammation, and increase weight.

The sugars and fats in treats can also raise your dog’s risk to long term conditions like cardiovascular disease. Arthritic canines are too active to burn excess body fat from sugars and fats.

Final Thoughts – What’s the best dog food for dogs with arthritis

Dogs who suffer from arthritis need a diet low in fat, sugar, salt, fillers, corn, and grains. These ingredients can cause inflammation, increase body weight, and increase the risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

An ideal diet for arthritic canines should include lean protein, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and unrefined carbs. Proteins will support the regeneration of muscles and tissues, while carbs will give your dog energy, and vitamins will boost their immunity.

Other great components for an arthritic diet include glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, ascorbic acid, and methylsulfonylmethane. These components will slow down the progression of arthritis.

As such, when you’re feeding your dog suffering from arthritis, do keep in mind the above tips and information. Arthritis can cause your furkid lots of pain but with lots of care and the right diet, they can lead a happier life.

Sheena Mai

I started out with the intention of finding out all I can about dogs because I love dogs but it has now turned into a mission to share my findings and experience with as many people as possible. Dogs are loyal animals but they also have their needs and it's our job to keep them happy and healthy! I hope you will find the information to be useful and thanks for stopping by!


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