best dog food for joint health

7 Best Dog Foods for Joint Health (2019 Reviews)

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We all want our dogs to be running around and playing at their best. However, as your dog ages, he will likely start to slow down.

Although old age will catch even the best of them, there are a few things that you can do as an owner to help your dog live happily and comfortably throughout his life, including purchasing dog food that aids joint health.

Feeding your dog a high-quality diet that fulfills all his nutritional requirements will help him live a long healthy life, and can potentially ward off the symptoms of common age-related conditions such as arthritis and joint issues.

Below we’ll discuss what to look for in dog foods specifically targeted towards aiding joints and arthritis, and include the best dog food for joint health with 7 top picks.

Does My Dog Need Food For Joint Health?

Arthritis and joint issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, are common developments in older dogs.

Painful issues like these can often be managed with proper diet. A good diet is also part of any good prevention or treatment plan for these ailments.

Diet is a great place to start assessing a human’s health, and this idea holds true for dogs as well.

It is important to feed a high-quality dog food, regardless of your dog’s specific joint needs.

However, there are also specific dog food formulas designed to target joint health.

These recipes add important nutrients and vitamins to keep joints healthy and to decrease symptoms of arthritis, thereby increasing your pet’s mobility.

For most dogs, a good quality dog food is all that they will likely require in terms of diet. However, there are some breeds that have a high occurrence of arthritis or hip dysplasia that could benefit from a specific joint health dog food.

Many large breeds tend to develop arthritis in old age, and Labrador Retrievers are particularly notorious for developing hip dysplasia.

Check with your vet to see if a joint health dog food could be right for your dog.

Remember that extra vitamins are not a replacement for medication, and many joint conditions need to be treated with medicine, not just special food.

best joint health dog food

What Do I Look For in Dog Food for Joint Health?

Before you start feeding your dog a food meant to help with mobility and joint health, make sure to check with your vet!

They will know best whether a certain kind of food meets all the nutritional requirements of your dog, they can recommend good brands, and they will likely have the best insight into whether your dog really needs a food for their joints.

A special note here – most general practice vets are not nutrition-focused. Many vets are also courted by dog food brands, such as Hill’s Science Diet, and get kickbacks for recommending that brand of food. Don’t be afraid of asking your vet lots of questions. If you have a veterinary nutritionist in your area, it’s probably worth paying an extra visit!

When searching for any good dog food, it is hard to know exactly what to look for. Experts do not always agree on the nutritional requirements for dogs (especially since dog breeds vary so much), and there are fewer regulations governing the quality of ingredients and how foods are labeled, than there are pertaining to human food.

Despite these inconsistencies, here are some things to look for in a commercial dog diet for adult dogs (puppies and seniors have different nutritional requirements).

  • Protein should make up between 18% and 30% of your dog’s food by weight. 18% is a bare minimum, and some working or athlete dogs will require more than 30% protein.
  • Fat should make up between 5% and 20% of your dog’s diet by weight. Remember that these values should be adjusted based on your dog’s age and activity level.
  • Fiber helps with digestion and should be around 3-4% of your dog food. Senior dogs will require slightly higher fiber content.
  • Carbohydrates do not have a recommended percentage, but simple math will tell you that they should make up between 30% and 70% of your dog’s diet. Carbs, such as corn, are often used as fillers in cheap dog food, so it is important to read the labels and ensure that carbs do not make up too high a proportion of your dog’s food. A good rule of thumb is that meat should be the first ingredient.

Not all dog foods are made the same, and because of loose regulations regarding labeling, owners need to be wary of flashy labels or health claims that are not backed up.

Your vet can help you sort this out, but there are certain characteristics and nutrients, in particular, to look out for if you want to boost your dog’s joint health:

  • Grain free dog food is a good choice for dogs who are susceptible to joint issues. Rice and barley are generally fine, but corn, wheat, and soy can lead to inflammation that can decrease mobility and exacerbate arthritis symptoms. There is some research suggesting that grain-free diets may be linked to heart issues, so be sure to ask your vet before switching to grain free. The diets of most concern are ones where grains are replaced with peas, potatoes, or lentils.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin are two nutrients that, when paired together, reduce inflammation and increase joint mobility. There are peer-reviewed studies to back up this claim.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids help keep a dog’s coat and skin healthy, and help increase joint mobility. These are often found in fish and fish oil, so look for those ingredients in your dog’s food.

dogs-joint-pain

Joint Health Dog Food: Things to Consider Before Purchasing

Remember that your vet will know best what to feed your dog, so be sure that any diet you pick is veterinarian approved! There are many things to consider when figuring out the best diet for your pup. Before selecting the first option targeted towards joint health, think about other characteristics of your individual dog.

Age

Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional requirements. Puppies need food with extra high protein and fat content, which aids in their growth and development.

In order to maintain a healthy weight, adult dogs need lower proportions of protein and fat, and therefore their food has a higher proportion of carbs than puppy food. Older dogs are usually less active, and have lower calorie requirements, and need less fat in their diet.

Senior dog foods are often higher in fiber as well, to aid digestion. Almost every commercial dog food brand has specifically designed puppy, adult, and senior formulas.

Size

Just like with age, dog food companies have developed specific formulas for small breeds and large breeds. This is important due to differing nutritional requirements for different dogs.

Small breeds have a higher metabolism, and therefore require food that is more calorie dense.

Large breeds have a high likelihood of developing arthritis, and feeding specific nutrient ratios have been shown to reduce this risk.

Activity Level

This seems obvious, but a more active dog requires more calories than a dog who sleeps most of the day.

There are some dog food formulas for especially active dogs, but often simply feeding more of their regular diet is enough (provided it is good quality food).

Activity level is not always specified in feeding instructions, so the amount you should feed an active dog is not always clear. Be sure to check with your vet to ensure that your dog is getting all the calories and nutrients she needs!

Breed

This often parallels the concerns relating to a dog’s size, but certain breeds have different nutritional requirements. Active breeds have different nutrient requirements and metabolism levels. There are a few companies that sell breed specific dog food.

Allergies

If your dog has any food allergies, it is important to ensure that whatever you feed him will be safe. Some common dog food ingredients, such as wheat, corn, and chicken products, are known to cause allergic reactions in some dogs.

Best Dog Food For Joint Health

I have given the percent by weight of various nutrients, as given by the guaranteed analysis on the package of dog food. It is important to remember that these numbers are a minimum or maximum possible in the food, and not necessarily the actual amount.

DOGSWELL Happy Hips

 

Description: This joint and hip chicken and oats formula is a dry dog food, with chicken as the first ingredient. It lists many different fruits and vegetables in its ingredients, which provide your dog with important vitamins and nutrients.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Carbs: 58.5%
  • Fiber: 5.5%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: This formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health, and is free of corn, wheat, and soy to help reduce inflammation in your dog’s joints.

AvoDerm Natural Advanced Joint Health

 

Description: This dry dog food is formulated with chicken meal and avocado to support a healthy skin and coat. It is also grain free, which makes it easy for your dog to digest.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Carbs: 52%
  • Fiber: 6%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: This recipe contains avocados and flax seeds, which contain omega 3 fatty acids to alleviate inflammation, and it is grain and soy free, which also reduces inflammation. Glucosamine and chondroitin are added to boost joint health and mobility.

Victor Performance Dry Dog Food

 

Description: This recipe is intended for “active and sporting dogs” and contains nutrients essential to joint health to keep your dog mobile and active throughout her life.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Carbs: 52.2%
  • Fiber: 3.8%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: Victor includes omega fatty acids, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce inflammation and aid healthy joints.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

 

Description: This kibble uses quality natural ingredients to provide your dog with healthy nutrition. Because it is grain free, Wellness CORE uses more meat ingredients than many other brands of dog food.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Carbs: 46%
  • Fiber: 6%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: Wellness CORE contains glucosamine and chondroitin as well as omega fatty acids to aid mobility and decrease inflammation.

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large & Giant Breed Adult

 

Description: This kibble is made with extra large dogs in mind, and as large breeds tend to have joint issues, this formula is designed to counter these symptoms for optimal mobility.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Carbs: 58%
  • Fiber: 4%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: This dog food includes glucosamine and chondroitin and omega fatty acids to support joint health, and does not include wheat, to reduce inflammation.

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Dog

 

Description: This lamb meal and rice dry dog food contains quality protein from lamb, as well as probiotics and superfoods for optimum health.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 22%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Carbs: 61%
  • Fiber: 5%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: This recipe does not contain any corn, wheat, or soy and contains glucosamine and chondroitin and omega 3s to reduce inflammation and increase mobility.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food

 

Description: This recipe was created with senior dogs in mind. Because a significant concern among senior dog owners is arthritis and hip dysplasia, this targeted formula is made to address these concerns. It also contains lots of quality meat ingredients.

Nutrition Analysis:

  • Protein: 22%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Carbs: 63.75%
  • Fiber: 4.25%

Key Ingredients for Joint Health: No corn, wheat, or soy are included in this dog food, and omega 3s and glucosamine and chondroitin are abundant. It also contains lots of ingredients high in antioxidants to give your older pup a healthy boost.

dog food for joint health

Other Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Joints Healthy

Although certain nutrients, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, have been proven to improve mobility and joint health, science also points to other methods to keep your pup’s joints healthy.

One study that looked at over 15,000 dogs of four breeds found that the dog’s weight was a significant risk factor for developing hip dysplasia.

As this study illustrates, one of the best ways to prevent joint issues is to keep your dog at his optimum weight.

Many pets become overweight or obese due to overfeeding and inadequate exercise. This extra weight puts extra stress on a dog’s bones and joints and increases his risk for developing arthritis and other joint issues.

As a general rule, you should be able to feel your dog’s rib cage and the top of his hip bones quite easily but you shouldn’t see hipbones or ribs poking out for most dog breeds. You may be able to see the ribcage of a boxer, but not in a fluffy Great Pyrenees.

This is a general guideline, though – Greyhounds will appear much bonier than a muscled Newfoundland. Any dog who is very active will have lower fat percentages and more muscle tone.

Certain supplements can also be added to a regular high-quality diet to boost your dog’s joint health. Glucosamine and chondroitin, and omega 3s can be found in many dog supplement products, which include chewy and crunchy treats, powders, and oils to add to your dog’s diet.

Another interesting ingredient which can be used to supplement your hound’s diet is the green lipped mussel. Consuming this mollusk has been shown in a peer-reviewed study to improve symptoms of arthritis in dogs, although they are not sure why this method works so well.

Final Words: Summing Up the Best Joint Health Dog Food

Before feeding any of these dog foods for joint health, it is important to check with your vet to be sure that the diet you want to feed is going to be good for your dog.

Furthermore, there are a few varieties of prescription dog food for certain issues, so ask your vet if one of these options might benefit your pup.

Also, ask your vet about your dog’s joints or any lack of mobility or pain you notice he’s feeling. These foods listed here provide vitamins and nutrients to help joint pain, but they are not a replacement for medication. Dogs with arthritis are going to do best on medication at the direction of your vet.

All of the joint health dog foods listed here are dry kibble, and for a dog with arthritis, chewing on crunchy kibble could be a painful process. Try softening the food by mixing in a small amount of chicken broth (low sodium!) or water to make it easy for your dog to chew.

Because joint issues in dogs are such a common problem in dogs, it is good to have such a simple tool that can ease their pain and boost their mobility.

Check with your vet to find out what treatment and diet is right for your dog, and feed him the best to keep him energetic and happy through his whole life!

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