Nutrition and Dog Arthritis

by Christopher Durin

In the US alone, one in five dogs is affected by arthritis. This shocking statistic shows the prevalence of the disease.

Any dog regardless of their age, breed, or size can develop dog arthritis. 

Although veterinary medicine has yet to fully understand the mechanisms behind dog arthritis, what we know is that age, heredity, previous injury, improper nutrition, and obesity are contributing factors to the development of the disease.

Better understanding these factors will not only help in making better treatments but it will also allow dog owners to have a more active role in the battle against the disease.

Nutrition and Arthritis

Since the 1930's, researchers have been exploring the link between nutrition and arthritis.

The many studies revealed that human patients with arthritis suffered from the following vitamin and mineral deficiencies: folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

These nutrients are essential for cellular growth and production. Some of them are known antioxidants while others are important components in the production of bones and connective tissues.

These all play a role in the development of dog arthritis.

More specifically, orthopedic diseases such as osteochondrosis and hip dysplasia, which can rapidly lead to dog arthritis, are exacerbated by such nutritional imbalances as well as rapid growth and obesity.

Indeed obesity is a very important factor in the development of orthopedic diseases. 

Studies have shown that the number of calories and when these calories were consumed can have a direct effect on the development of a dog’s bones and joints. Hip dysplasia is the best example of a form of arthritis made worse by obesity, and there are others as well.

How We Can Help Through Proper Nutrition  

Dogs that are fed the right amount and right kind of food live an average of 1.8 years longer and are considerably healthier than dogs that are liberally fed. Dog owners, therefore, should provide meals that contain the right balance of all nutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals.

When dogs are not fed properly, they can easily become obese. Obesity causes dogs to age faster. This means the joints of overweight dogs deteriorate at a much faster pace, making these dogs very susceptible to dog arthritis. Fat is also pro-inflammatory in its own right, so keep the pounds off!

Aside from proper diet, supplementation is another way of making sure that your dog is receiving the needed nutrients to stay healthy.

Vitamins A, C, E; selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for your dog’s health but they also help subdue the pain and inflammation caused by dog arthritis.

Furthermore, having enough the right amounts of vitamin D and calcium will make sure your dog’s bones stay strong, providing some level of protection against injury and many bones and joint diseases.

Related articles:
Talk to Me About Arthritis
Tell-tale Signs Your Dog May Have Arthritis


  1. Nutrition is the most important thing you can do to prevent your pet from developing arthritis. Digestive enzymes help the body break down food more completely and thus unlock the essential nutrients.

  2. Proper diet is so important. I don't know why so many dog owners overlook it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since most of us do not even eat healthy OURSELVES.

    I know I will never let my dog become overweight. That is one easy way to help increase his life expectancy. And I want him around for as long as possible.

  3. Lindsay, obesity in dogs is a huge problem and source of lot of upset and confusion to owners. I noticed that many owners don't even realize what their dog SHOULD look like. And then there are psychological obstacles.

  4. Hi Jana, Thanks for this post. I've been looking at other more natural ways to feed Rufus and Georgia since Rufus's pancreatitis last year, so I'll be checking out all your links soon. Their mostly home cooked diet is already making such a difference. If I could only sort out a good combination and balance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and all the trace stuff they should have, I'd be a happy bikkie!

    I haven't re-sent you the email, in case you're wondering. I thought you might email me, but eventually, I did read your reply :) on this blog, with the alternative address! I hope to start work on something soon. Unfortunately, I'll be quite busy next week with some workshops, but I just wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten and I really appreciate your kind offer :)

    Have a good night (it's bedtime here, no idea what it is over where you are!) :)

  5. Dear Georgia. The easy way of balancing your home-cooked food is
    a) getting a custom recipe from a holistic or TCVM vet
    b) getting on with Balance IT and using their recipes
    c) combination of the two

    We are using Canadian equivalent of Balance IT (Hilary's supplement). This comes with a recipe book and/or one can have a custom recipe formulated also.

    Going this route takes the guess work and agony out of home cooking for dogs.

    That's weird about the email, since I got them at first but not any more ... ?

    Glad you haven't forgotten, thank you for wanting to share your story.

    (((hugs))) Jana


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