Both large and small breed dogs are at risk for joint pain at some point in their lives. He may tear his cruciate ligament, sprain his ankle or get degenerative joint disease. But no matter the problem, proper nutrition can help to support his joint health.
Herbs and homeopathic remedies can be very effective. They can reduce pain and inflammation, strengthen connective tissue and promote tissue repair. But nutritional supplements can also help in much the same way.
The goals of nutritional support are to:
- Promote healthy and functional connective tissue
- Provide building blocks for collagen synthesis
- Control inflammation and pain
- Supply antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress
- Prevent osteoarthritis
Here are some nutritional powerhouses you can consider for your dog’s aches and pains.
Vitamins And Minerals For Joint Support
Your dog needs vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. And most of these come from his food. But sometimes your dog just doesn’t get what he needs. Especially if he eats commercial dog food.
That’s because kibble, canned and even some pre-made raw foods use synthetic vitamins and minerals. And your dog just can’t use synthetics the same way he uses vitamins from whole foods. Not to mention, synthetics can also be toxic to your dog.
And synthetics can also stop naturally sourced vitamins and minerals from functioning the way they should. So if your dog has joint issues, consider feeding a homemade raw diet or adding fresh produce to his meals.
To help support your dog’s joints, look for foods rich in these vitamins and minerals ...
Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis and is an antioxidant. Collagen is a major component of the tendons and ligaments in your dog’s joints.
Tocopherols, which are a form of vitamin E, are also antioxidants. They help stabilize cell membranes and modulate the inflammatory phase of osteoarthritis. Tocopherols also stimulate the deposition of proteoglycan. This is another important component of joint cartilage.
Grass-fed meat has more vitamin E than grain-fed animals. Try novel meats like buffalo or ostrich or feed eggs, sardines, liver or brain. Dandelion, raspberry leaf and nettle are also rich in vitamin E.
Like vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B6 are also required for collagen synthesis. Liver, chicken, pork, eggs and sardines are good sources of B1 and B6.
Manganese is essential for the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs help reduce inflammation and lubricate joints.
Manganese is also involved in the synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans. And it’s found in beef, chicken, pork, eggs and sardines. You can also feed dandelion, licorice, parsley or chamomile.
Research shows that low magnesium may contribute to chronic inflammation and joint issues. It’s also an important part of collagen synthesis.
Magnesium is in rabbit, chicken, pork, beef, eggs and sardines. You can also boost magnesium with dandelion, chickweed, nettle or sage.
Sulfur is an important building block of healthy joints. It’s also needed to make collagen and glucosamine. Like collagen, glucosamine is important for healthy joints.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are rich in sulfur.
When taken with omega-3 fats, selenium can reduce inflammation in the joint. This may benefit osteoarthritis. Selenium is also an antioxidant.
For a boost of selenium, try rabbit, chicken, pork, eggs or sardines. You can also use herbs like chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, ginseng and garlic.
You probably know that calcium is important for strong bones. But did you know you dog also needs it for healthy joints?
That’s because calcium can help reduce inflammation. It can also help reduce joint disease connected to poor bone health.
Calcium is in rabbit, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs and sardines. You can also feed herbs such as chamomile, dandelion, parsley, yarrow or yellow dock for calcium.
Other minerals like iron, copper and zinc are also important. They‘re involved in collagen synthesis. For iron feed eggs, meat, dandelion or chamomile. Try sheep sorrel, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs and sardines for copper. And feed rabbit, lamb, beef, eggs, nettle, sage and dandelion for zinc.
Natural Joint Supplements For Dogs
There are also many supplements that you can add to your dog’s food to help prevent and manage joint problems. These Include …
Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega 3s help reduce inflammation that leads to joint issues. They can also help regulate the cells in cartilage and may help protect against cartilage degradation. Good sources of omega-3s are green lipped mussels, brains and sardines.
Glycosaminoglycans – You may remember from earlier that GAGs have anti-inflammatory properties. And that they’re needed for proteoglycan synthesis and collagen formation. While manganese can help with the natural synthesis of GAGs, you can also supplement GAGs directly into your dog’s diet. Green lipped mussels are rich in GAGs.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – MSM is a source of sulfur, which your dog needs for collagen synthesis. It may also inhibit pain impulses that travel along nerve fibers. And it has anti-inflammatory effects and helps reduce muscle spasms. MSM is found in most plants and animals. But cooking and heating will destroy most MSM so they must be fed raw.
Bioflavonoids – Flavones, flavonoids, quercetin, rutin, and procyanidins are bioflavonoids. They’re in colorful fruits and veggies and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can also inhibit inflammatory and damaging enzymes.
BONUS: Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are essential for every part of the body, including your dog’s joints. There are 22 amino acids in total and 10 of them are essential. That means your dog can’t make them himself … he must get them from his food.
Valine, isoleucine and glutamine are three essential amino acids that can help improve joint health. Glutamine plays a key role in GAG synthesis and helps incorporate sulfur into the joint cartilage. Valine and isoleucine are a part of collagen synthesis
Methionine and s-adenosylmethionine are also important non-essential amino acids. Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that helps maintain:
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) gets synthesized from methionine. It’s shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and assists in proteoglycan synthesis.
Non-essential amino acids that help with joint health are:
- Proline – makes up 33% of collagen.
- Cysteine – needed for connective tissue healing.
- Alanine – involved in collagen synthesis.
Non-essential amino acids are ones that your dog’s body can produce. But if your dog has joint health problems, he may need a boost.
It’s important to try to find whole food sources of amino acids. These can come from plant proteins but animal proteins are better. That’s because animal proteins are a more complete protein with a balanced amount of amino acids.
But don’t let kibble deceive you. While the first ingredient may be meat, they mostly use plant-based proteins. It’s why you’ll often see amino acids added to the food. And they’re usually synthetic (you can tell by the L- or DL- before the name).
So if your dog suffers from a sports injury or chronic joint pain, take a look at his diet. See if you can add any of the vitamins or supplements to his diet to improve his joint health.