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The Canine Nutritionist

Best Dog Food for Arthritis & Joint Problems

by | Dog Health | 0 comments

Want to learn more about canine arthritis. Want to know the best dog food for arthritis? If your dog is unfortunate enough to be an arthritis sufferer, please read on.

About canine arthritis

Canine osteoarthritis (or simply arthritis) is a chronic degenerative disease affecting any or all of a dog’s joints. Arthritis can have a number of potential causes. These include:

  • Joint tissue deterioration
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Congenital defect
  • Wear and tear

Genetics can also play a part. Some breeds are more predisposed to arthritis than others. Particularly susceptible to arthritis and joint pain are senior dogs and dogs who are overweight.

Irrespective of its cause, there is still much you can do make life comfortable for your best friend. There is for example clear evidence that dietary changes can help considerably with the symptoms of canine arthritis. Feeding the best dog food for arthritis. So can effective supplementation. Exercise too has an important role to play in the management of your dog’s condition. And without a doubt, so does diligent weight control.

So the four key planks to improving life for your arthritic dog, every one of them proven to be effective, are:

  • Weight control
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Supplementation
  • Choosing the very best dog food for arthritis
Weight Control

Studies have shown that one of the best ways to control the pain associated with arthritis is through proper weight management. It stands to reason that the more weight a dog carries on compromised joints, the greater the pain and discomfort. Greater pain means less willingness on the part of your dog to exercise. Less exercise means an increase in weight. This in turn means a continuing and increasingly debilitating and painful cycle of decline.

Imagine for example that your best friend is just one kilo overweight. (And many, many dogs are far more overweight than that)!

One kilo doesn’t sound a lot, does it? But that’s a bag of sugar or two tins of baked beans. So now imagine that bag of sugar or those tins of beans strapped on your dog’s back. Imagine the extra stress on his or her joints every time she sits, stands, lays down, runs or jumps. That extra weight is just going to increase the wear and tear on those already uncomfortable and painful joint. And make them wear out all the sooner!

Please don’t let that happen to your best friend. Carefully monitor your dog’s weight. If he or she starts to gain weight, reduce the amount you feed until a healthy weight is achieved.

Weigh your dog

In an ideal world you should always weigh your dog at least once a month. If you have a small dog, you might be able to pop he or she on your bathroom scales. Or weigh yourself holding your dog and then deduct your own weight.

For a larger dog, you may have to weigh your best friend at the vets. Or you can buy your own vet scales for relatively little money.

The scales on which I weigh my own two large dogs cost in the region of £70. Scales for a dog weighing up to 20kgs can be purchased for as little as £25. Either is an investment considering the cost to both you and your dog of unhealthy weight gain. For little more than the cost of a veterinary consultation – less than a consultation for small dog scales – you have an invaluable tool that could last you a lifetime.

Incidentally. Ideally, you should always weigh your dog at the same time of day. Just to ensure you’re comparing like with like. For example, I always weigh my dogs after their morning walk and before their first meal of the day. That way I know I’m not adding the weight of their breakfast at one weigh-in and not the next.

Observe your dog

Viewed from above, your dog should have a discernible waistline. What one might describe as an hourglass figure whereby your dog is broad at the chest, narrower at the waist and wider at the hips. Viewed from the side, you should be able to see a definite abdominal tuck whereby the abdomen is tucked up behind the rib cage towards the groin.

Feel your dog

And finally, you should regularly feel your dog. It’s a procedure that can on occasion throw up other issues such as a fatty deposit or even a tick.

For the purpose of this particularly exercise, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs beneath a thin layer of flesh, without actually seeing them.

Don’t free feed

Feed your dog twice a day, and remove his or her bowl once she has finished eating. Never leave a bowl of food for a dog to pick at all day.

Reduce the number of treats

If you give your dog treats on a regular basis, please take these into account when calculating his or her daily food allowance.

Always weigh your dog’s food

If you feed your dog commercial food, treat the suggested feeding guide on the packet, tin or box with a degree of caution. Every dog is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to feeding a dog despite what the feeding guide might tell you.

So, if your dog is overweight and you’re feeding commercial food and following the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines, reduce their suggestion by 10%.

If your dog is overweight, you’re feeding commercial food and simply guessing how much to feed your dog, then guess 10% less!

In fact, whatever food you’re feeding your dog, whether it be some kind of commercial food or if he or she is lucky enough to be dining on home cooked or raw food, feed 10% less than you usually feed if your dog is currently overweight.

(By the way, when you reach the end of this journey and your dog reaches his or her ideal weight, I’m going to suggest that you stop guessing and that from there on in, you always weigh your dog’s food)!

Consider changing your dog’s food

In an ideal world, if you don’t already feed your dog raw or home cooked food, it might be a good time to consider making the switch. The right time to find the best dog food for arthritis.

Because of the vast improvement in quality, you’ll find your dog automatically needs to eat less anyway. To say nothing of the fact that a diet of home cooked or raw food is just so much healthier for your canine friend.

Your dog’s weight would also be much easier to control because you’d know exactly what you’re feeding your dog. This is something you most certainly don’t with commercial dog food. And, because of the improved quality of the food, your dog hopefully won’t even be aware he or she is on a diet!

But if for example you feed your dog kibble and you intend continuing to feed that way, don’t be tempted to switch to a weight management, light or so called ‘prescription diet’ dry dog biscuit. Apart from being more expensive, they are a complete and utter waste of time. Please don’t be fooled by the marketing hype or the recommendation of your veterinary practitioner. Such food is likely to be lower in protein and higher in low-quality carbohydrates, neither of which is what your dog needs if he or she needs to lose weight.

No, if you feed kibble and you intend to continue feeding kibble, just feed a little less of your usual brand and if necessary bulk it up with some lightly cooked green vegetables like runner beans or cabbage. Not only will they make your dog feel fuller for longer, they will also add some much-needed extra vitamins to his or her diet. Something a commercial weight-loss dog food most certainly will never do. Better still, feed even less kibble and bulk it up with lean protein and then the green vegetables!

If you want to learn how to make healthy, nutritious homemade dog food, consider my Homemade Dog Food Made Easy feeding guide.

Arthritis & Joint Problems Feeding Guide

Remedial feeding guide for dogs suffering from arthritis & joint problems complete with tasty recipes. Ready for immediate download.

Download Now


Despite the fact that your dog may be suffering from more limited mobility, he or she still needs exercise. Regular gentle exercise will help prevent stiffness, decrease pain and prevent muscle wastage.

In this regard, little and often is the best approach. Numerous short walks a day are be better than one long one. And try to maintain a regular pattern – roughly the same distance and or duration each day.

Gentle, steady walks and low-impact exercise would be best. And start any exercise slowly to give your dog a chance to warm up a little.

It goes without saying that you should avoid any games that involve your dog running or jumping which could cause extra strain on already damaged joints. Bear in mind that dogs are genetically programmed to run and jump. They have no on-off switch no matter what pain their activity may cause them afterwards. If there is still an excitable pup inside your arthritic dog, keep he or she on a lead as much as possible to minimize any further damage.

By the way, on the subject of running and jumping, a personal hobbyhorse. If your dog is suffering from any kind of joint problem, please buy a dog ramp for the car. Few things are worse for an arthritic dog than jumping in and out of the back of a vehicle. Particularly a high-backed, 4-wheel drive type vehicle!


However you currently feed your dog, if he or she is suffering from arthritis, your main dietary focus should be to reduce the inflammation that causes joint pain. Feeding a healthy diet can go a long way towards your goal of making your best friend happy and enthusiastic about life notwithstanding his or her reduced mobility. And how is this best done? You guessed it. By choosing the best dog food for arthritis!

And if you need my help with a personalised diet for your best friend, please book a consultation with The Canine Nutritionist.

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.


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Better Food, Better Health

Fresh food has been proven to improve dog health.
Know exactly what's in your dog's food.
80% of canine health issues can be improved with healthy food.
There are no chemicals or artificial additives in homemade food.
Life expectancy has been proven greater with fresh food.

Do you really need any more reaons to improve your dog's diet?

Homemade Dog Food Recipes

Better Food, Better Health

Fresh food has been proven to improve dog health.
Know exactly what's in your dog's food.
80% of canine health issues can be improved with healthy food.
There are no chemicals or artificial additives in homemade food.
Life expectancy has been proven greater with fresh food.

Do you really need any more reaons to improve your dog's diet?

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