Fully functioning and pain-free joints are one of the sure signs of a doggy in the pink of health. These healthy joints empower your furry friend to make the best of life, be it playing fetch, enjoying long walks, gambolling, etc. But just like with us, as our pets grow older, their joints wear down, becoming vulnerable to inflammation and disease. Obesity and athletic injuries caused by their (over) active lifestyle also do their damage. Even genetic predisposition can lead to joint disorders such as hip dysplasia which are further aggravated by environmental factors.
Did you know that osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis) is the most common cause for chronic pain in dogs? In osteoarthritis, the cartilages that cushion bone-endings start to degenerate, distorting the underlying bone structure. It affects nearly 80% of senior dogs, but its symptoms can start showing up as early as or even before the first year of life. In the early stages (pre-osteoarthritis), your pet may display no clinical signs. This is followed by subtle changes in the gait that are again easy to miss. Glaringly obvious symptoms like a limp and lameness may become apparent only later on. Even the fact that dogs are so good at hiding their pain from their loved ones further prevents a timely diagnosis.
Though doggies seem predisposed to achy joints at some or the other point in their life, hope is never lost. Weight management, exercise regimes and proper nutrition can delay and even prevent the onset of arthritis and improve quality of life with it. In case of genetic disorders, this golden trio can slow down the rate of deterioration, adding precious years to your pup’s life. But whereas weight management and workout regimes will always differ according to age, breed and existing health conditions, there are certain nutrient-rich foods (called superfoods) that will surely boost your doggy’s joints and overall health, regardless of these variables.
Let us find out more about them.
- Turmeric: This ancient spice contains a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory substance called curcumin (responsible for its yellow colour) which helps relieve knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. As a 2018 study proved, curcumin is as effective as the non-steroidal drug, ibuprofen, and won’t even cause gastric erosion (soreness in the stomach’s inner lining), a nasty side effect of the drug. Turmeric is best consumed organically, either whole (as a root with the skin peeled) or in the powdered form. Cinnamon and ginger are other spices that have been used as folk remedies for joint pain for centuries.
- Fish Oil: The Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel are one of the best friends for your doggy’s joints. Besides having anti-inflammatory properties, they are filled with natural chemicals which lubricate cartilages, reducing the friction between them, making movement much less painful. One-to three grams of fish oil every morning will also increase blood flow across the body during exercise, reducing swelling and gradually bringing down the morning stiffness. Fatty acids are also known to help manage rheumatoid arthritis.
- The Cruciferous Veggies: These are the green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. The antioxidants in them fight free radicals that cause cellular level damage. Combined with Vitamin E, antioxidants also act as joint inflammation and pain blockers. On the other hand, their fibre helps maintain weight, preventing obesity-induced joint pain (to find out more about the benefits of fibre for your doggy, click here). These veggies are also high in Vitamin C which speeds up bone healing (following a fracture) and is also important for forming collagen, the main component of connective tissues including joint cartilages(take a look at some more pro-healing foods for your doggo).
- Fruits: Pumpkin, pineapple and papaya not only taste great but are chock-full of proteolytic enzymes which reduce pain and improve joint function by breaking down and repairing damaged tissues, thus preventing overall cartilage breakdown (the main cause of arthritis). Pumpkin is also rich in vitamins C and B6, magnesium and beta carotene all of which soothe achy joints. You may want to be careful with the papayas, since some dogs are allergic to them. Also, fruits high in Vitamin C (like papayas) should be given within limits or else they will cause loose stools. Lastly, never feed your pup the papaya seeds: if swallowed, they can be toxic.
- Chicken Feet: Chicken meat is one of the most common sources of canine nutrition. But did you know that chicken feet are just as beneficial, containing glucosamine and chondroitin in their unadulterated, wholesome, form? These are the two substances present in most pet supplements. Glucosamine not only lubricates joints by promoting collagen formation, but also acts as a shock absorbent during joint injuries, thereby minimising tissue damage. Chondroitin, which is a form of glucosamine, repairs damaged cartilages and improves their elasticity and water retention capacity. Chicken feet are best enjoyed raw, since feeding your doggy cooked bones is a very bad idea(discover the wonders of other chicken organs).
- Bone Broth: The same chicken feet can also be thrown into a bowl of bone broth. Feeding your doggo bone broth will be one of the best things you will do for its joints. It is a very ancient (ayurveda-acknowledged) anti-inflammatory remedy. Apart from being a powerhouse of glucosamine and chondroitin, it also contains proteins, hyaluronic acid and gelatin. All these work on improving joint elasticity and connective tissue strength. Bone broth is especially recommended for city-bred dogs since marbled and tiled flooring negatively impacts their joint health, making them more vulnerable to arthritis.
Now that you have taken a look at some of the best superfoods for canine joints, did you know that PetChef includes most of them in its enticing Meals? All of PetChef’s Meals are cooked in bone broth which is made by slowly cooking animal bones, tendons and ligaments in water for as long as 24 hours. PetChef’s 24-Hour Bone Broth offers more than the usual benefits, containing as it does apple cider vinegar that will destroy the build-up of acid crystals in your doggy’s joints and various herbs whose micronutrients will release anti-inflammatory effects. Treating your doggy to a delicious but healthy snack of the Chicken Jerky Treat is also a good idea for improving their joint and overall health.
Try any of the above PetChef products, for they will all enable your pup to keep joint discomforts at bay and help your senior doggo manage them better.