Old Jack Russell terrier sitting looking at camera in living room

Arthritis in Elderly Dogs (How You Can Help)

Arthritis is excruciating for dogs. Unfortunately, their joints wear down as they get older, and arthritis can develop in their spine, hips, knees, and elbows.

Arthritis is widespread in dogs that have engaged in high impact activities throughout their lives, especially when their bones and joints haven’t had the extra nutrients to support it.

It would be helpful to know if our dogs will get arthritis in the future and take preventative measures if necessary. Unfortunately, there is no way to see the future, but we can ensure our dogs eat a healthy diet and take supplements.

You’re likely here because your elderly dog has arthritis. Let’s look at ways to make them comfortable and look at a diet overhaul and supplementation that will work wonders for them, even at this later stage.

Some of the supplements and diets below will provide relief and repair the cartilage and slow the process of further degeneration.

How to recognise the symptoms of dysfunctional joints in dogs

  • Movement: your dog avoids basic activities like running, jumping up, limping, and climbing stairs and is generally slow when moving.
  • Bed: Your dog is lazy with every passing day and tends to stay in its bed instead of playing. Sleeping is your dog’s new hobby, and they get tired quickly.
  • Weight: they are gaining weight
  • Behaviour: your dog’s moody, aggressive, depressed, stubborn or irritable purely because the dog is in pain.
  • Lock Joints: when your dog stays still, the joints lock and find it hard to get back up.

Treatments For Arthritis In elderly Dogs

The primary purpose is to provide relief to your elderly dog from the pain and also help to increase their functional movement. 

Reducing the pain and allowing better movement pain-free will make your dog a lot happier.

Arthritis Supplements: Glucosamine and chondroitin

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

These substances are found naturally in a dog’s body, and they help keep the cartilage strong. Cartilage is what allows the bones to move freely and without pain.

However, if the dog’s body isn’t producing enough glucosamine and chondroitin, the cartilage will wear away due to missing the vital building blocks of healthy cartilage.

In this case, supplementation is a must.

The good thing is that the supplementation of glucosamine and chondroitin can be used long term and is perfectly safe to be given alongside the pain killers that your veterinarian will prescribe.

Other vitamins and minerals to help support joint health

Vitamin C: extra carrots or broccoli each day will give them some fresh added vitamin C.

Vitamin E: add extra spinach, kale, or chickpeas to their food to boost vitamin E.

Green Lipped Mussel (Joint superfood)

  • These green-lipped mussels have natural inflammatory properties.
  • Green-lipped mussels reduce joint pain and protect the cartilage.
  • Fresh is always best; however, not everyone can buy these in their area, so purchasing a supplement in powder or tablet is okay if you cannot find fresh food in your area.

Essential Fatty Acids

Top their food with some boiled chicken, sardines or scrambled egg.

Sardines

I recommend giving your dog with arthritis a tin of sardines each week.

Sardines contain two types of fats that are very important to a dog. 

Providing your dog sardines fresh or from a tin in freshwater once a week will guarantee these essential fatty acids.

Food Quality Check

As a canine nutritionist, I know the importance of good quality food. A dog with good quality food gives them the best fighting chance against many health problems.

The best thing you can do for your dog if they have arthritis is feeding them the best quality food possible.

You may think that the food you give your dog is healthy but unfortunately, many brands of dog food use low-quality ingredients.

You can only confirm if the food is of good quality by checking the ingredients on the back of the packet. Never trust the front brand marketing.

Bad Dog Food Ingredients

  • Bone Meal: This is bones grounded up of any animal to provide poor calcium.
  • Derivatives: Can be any part of any animal, including beak, bones, or feet added. Sometimes it can state the type of animal. However, it will still be any part of that specific animal—classed as poor-quality nutrition.
  • Vegetable Derivatives: Vegetables from many possible vegetable sources. These can be either good or bad—generally, it’s human vegetable preparation waste.
  • Fat: Animal fat is often sprayed on dog food to make it tastier and more appealing. The fat comes from the cooking process of the animal, and when it’s heated to a very high temperature, and as the grease floats to the top, it’s gathered up for use. Dogs certainly need fat in their diet—however, it’s questionable if this is the best option.

Good Dog Food Ingredients

If your dog’s food has any of the below ingredients listed, then the food is of good quality. 

  • Vegetables: These are the purest of good quality vegetables needed in a dog’s diet.
  • Botanicals, Herbs or Plants: These are added health enhancements for your dog. If this is listed on the label, it means excellent quality dog food with your dog’s health at the forefront of their company.
  • Pure Meat: Meat taken from a specific animal. Such as beef, chicken, or duck. The best quality dog foods have pure or fresh meat labelled on the back.

Check for these nasty ingredients, and if any are found, you should change your dog’s food.

Home Prepared Dog Food

Home prepared foods instead of kibble or wet food would be the ultimate quality if done right, it’s important that dogs get all the vitamins and minerals that their body needs.

Below are some of my example evening home-made fresh meals for my dog

Percentage Amount/Example Foods

When making home-cooked dog meals, include kale, spinach or broccoli for calcium. 

Or you can opt for a calcium powder made from eggshells or bones.

It’s essential that a dog gets enough calcium but doesn’t get too much calcium.

Recommended Read: Why Is Zinc Important For Dogs?

Weight Management

If you have an overweight dog with arthritis, you must help them lose weight. 

Extra weight will strain the bones and joints of your dog. The excess weight will cause more damage and also more pain. 

See here an article I wrote that will help you understand obesity in dogs and some critical advice when helping your dog lose weight. 

Summary

Three essential things that you can do to help your elderly dog with arthritis are supplements, a decent diet and weight management. 

A website called Canine Arthritis Management has information that can help your dog. You should visit it if you haven’t already.

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