A dog's joints - how natural food helps
Stiff joints, arthritis, pain?
Joint and bone health are among the top priorities for the responsible owner and breeder.
Arthritis is painful and difficult to treat, with the most common types of canine arthritis being auto immune arthritis, also known as rheumatoid arthritis, and the degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis, your dog’s own immune system attacks the joints and it can typically affect several joints at once. The cause of auto immune arthritis is generally unknown.
In osteoarthritis, symptoms include a destruction of parts of the joint and cartilage, often giving sporadic inflammation. It is a very common type of arthritis in pets.
There are so many specialist foods and supplements available that it is sometimes difficult to understand which is the best for you and for your dog.
So, which factors and treatments are the most important to control and maintain joint health – and why?
There are two broad categories of treatment – surgical and non surgical, with the surgical ranging from joint cleaning to joint and tissue replacement.
Non surgical treatment and prevention basically comes down to weight management and body condition. Anti inflammatory prescriptions may seem to work, but this is probably because they reduce pain – not solve the problem.
Supplements do have a place in treating extreme cases, but prevention is always better, and it is here that the correct choice of food is vital.
The important ingredients for joint health are generally recognised to be glucosamine and chondroitin, together with Omega 3s, L’Cartinine and calcium.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the building blocks which make up the joint cartilage, and it is this cartilage, acting as a sort of shock absorber and lubricant to the joint, which is subject to constant breakdown and repair. If these building blocks are not present in sufficient quantities, degenerative joint problems will probably follow.
This is used by the body in the formation and repair of the cartilage.
There are many sources and types of glucosamine – and they do not give equal results. More and more scientists are favouring liquid glucosamine such as that found in crustaceans. This is the type used in Golden Eagle Holistic Health.
Next, we have to look at quantities. The indications are that anything below 350ppm (parts per million, or mg/kg) does little good, so this has to be the starting point. Look at the pack or food analysis, and this information should be there. It is surprising that some specialist joint care foods barely exceed this figure.
Golden Eagle single protein foods (duck and salmon) contain 400 ppm whereas the multi protein chicken contains a massive 660ppm.
This helps to make a resilient cartilage, inhibiting the enzymes which break down the cartilage. It works alongside the glucosamine. The multi protein Golden Eagle chicken formula, which would typically be used by an active dog, contains 420ppm of chondroitin, whereas the single protein duck and salmon contain a more than adequate 120ppm. (Some ‘joint care’ foods can contain as little as 35 !)
It is generally recognised that the fatty acids found in fish oils – especially fish such as salmon, help to maintain a healthy joint function as well as giving a healthy skin and coat. Once again – check the ingredient panel on foods. Not surprisingly, the Golden Eagle holistic food which is highest in Omega 3’s is the salmon formula, containing a massive 2.6%, with the chicken and duck formulae containing a very respectable 0.8%. Omega 3s are important in joint care, but are generally considered less so than glucosamine and chondroitin.
The weight management of your dog is crucial to the wellbeing of its joints. L’Cartinine helps to maintain an optimum body weight by burning fat, as well as being an important aid to cardio vascular health. Golden Eagle foods contain an impressive 100 – 121 ppm.
A regular and controlled exercise programme is fundamental to weight control, but the advantages of a correct and complementing diet should be used alongside such planned exercise - it is all part of the holistic approach to good health.
The importance of calcium to strong bones and teeth is so well known as to merit little mention here, other than to point out the obvious that there cannot be healthy joints without healthy bones. Calcium also aids in muscle development. Once again – check the pack or ingredient analysis of the dog food. Having too much calcium in the diet can cause just as many problems as having too little. Additionally, not having a balanced diet can hinder the dog’s ability to absorb calcium – another reason for choosing the nutrigenomically balanced Golden Eagle Holistic Health foods.
What about supplements?
There is obviously a place for supplements where the condition is extreme, but supplements should not be viewed as a ‘cure all.’ It is far better to try for prevention rather than cure, and to ensure the nutrition you give your dog is fundamentally sound containing all the vital ingredients to good overall health as well as healthy joints. You will also find that this is by far the cheaper route as supplements can be very expensive. We believe it is better to include these ingredients in the basic food, which we do.
The advantage of including the essential joint care ingredients within the food, rather than by supplements, is that the quantities are automatically adjusted by the portions of food served, ensuring that the ‘at risk’ larger breeds get the increased care they need.
Generally, the more active dogs or ‘at risk’ dogs which need more joint protection will fare better on a multi protein food, and we would recommend Golden Eagle Holistic Health Chicken Formula which is very high in glucosamine and chondroitin, whereas the more sedentary dog will get the nutrition and protection it needs from the Holistic Duck or Salmon foods.