Besides injuries & old age, excess weight is the number one contributor to dog arthritis and joint pain.
That’s because it causes inflammation and stiffness in a dog’s joints by putting more strain on them.
According to the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), more than 50% of all dogs in the US are overweight.
52.7% in 2014, 54% in 2015, and 59% in 2022 – that’s a steady INCREASE.
That’s also every other dog.
E V E R Y O T H E R D O G.
Pretty scary, if you ask me.
How To Minimize The Risk For Dog Arthritis & Joint Pain
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you.
1. Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight
Daily exercise is key in keeping our pups at their ideal weight.
Need some ideas on how to work out your pooch?
Find some inspiration in my Dog Exercise, Training & Travel section!
Please know that exercise for an arthritic dog should be low-impact to reduce stress on her joints.
That means that activities such as swimming & slow walks are a better option than agility & running.
2. Supplement Your Dog’s Healthy Diet With Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Glucosamine & chondroitin are natural substances that are essential to joint health and keeping our pups mobile.
There are quite a few supplements on the market that contain glucosamine & chondroitin.
However, the vast majority of them were put together in a laboratory and not taken from Mother Earth.
Whenever I have the choice between a chemical substance with potential side effects and its naturally occurring, safe counterpart, I’ll opt for the latter.
Glucosamine & chondroitin both occur naturally in:
That’s why I supplemented Missy’s & Buzz’s raw diet with them. They were my first dogs, and I miss them dearly.
For a refreshing dog popsicle recipe with duck feet, click here.
Green Lipped Mussels (GLMs)
Green Lipped Mussels are green-hued and are only found on the coast of New Zealand.
They are one of the best, naturally occurring, sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins and minerals.
I first heard of Green Lipped Mussels when I fed Missy and Buzz Ziwipeak dog food, an air-dried food from New Zealand, that has GLMs on the ingredient list.
Then I discovered single-ingredient green lipped mussels treats online, and I knew I had to get them for the pups.
Missy & Buzz loved them!
Only side effect: Allergic reaction can occur IF your dog is allergic to shellfish.
Update 2023: My new pup Wally can’t have shellfish, and unfortunately that also includes Green Lipped Mussels.
How Much GLMs Do I Feed My Dog?
You can feed about 1 GLM per 20 lbs of bodyweight.
If Green Lipped Mussels are sprinkled on the dog’s food in powder form, dog nutrition blogger Rodney Habib recommends 15mg of powdered extract per 1 pound of the dog’s body weight.
Duck Feet & Chicken Feet
You probably guessed it by now – duck & chicken feet also contain glucosamine & chondroitin, as well as calcium.
That means that they support and improve joint health in dogs.
Dehydrated duck feet & chicken feet definitely provide a nice crunch factor and have the potential to entertain for quite some time IF you have a moderate chewer.
Duck feet and chicken feet are about the same size and weigh around an ounce. That makes them a great chew for small to medium size dogs.
They also make a healthy snack for larger dogs provided they’re not gulpers.
Regardless of your dog’s size, I’d still always supervise when you give your pups a dog chew.
Note: Of course you can also use them raw to make homemade raw dog food, which is what I do.
Dog Arthritis? Joint Pain? Bottom Line
Prevention is the name of the game! I personally don’t believe in popping pills IF there’s a natural, non-chemical alternative – neither for my dogs, nor for myself.
I had this wake-up call in late 2014/early 2015 when my pup Missy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
While she may have been genetically predisposed to this sickness being a Boxer Mix, I am convinced that our lifestyle contributed to this chapter in her life.
For the first 3.5 years of her life, she had been treated with a topical monthly pest-preventative (K9 Advantix), a monthly oral Heartworm preventative (Heartguard), received countless vaccination boosters, and ate highly processed dry & wet dog food.
PLUS not to mention the fact that her bedding & towels were washed weekly with laundry detergent that contained a crap load of chemicals, as well as dried with dryer sheets that also contained chemicals.
Talk about a toxic cocktail!
Once Missy had received her last round of chemotherapy in early 2015, I incorporated major changes to both pups’ lives in hopes of boosting their immune systems.
The biggest one was definitely the switch from kibble to raw dog food.
Both Missy & Buzz did great on it and had beautiful shiny coats and clean teeth. It’s truly amazing what a change in nutrition can do.
While I ended up loosing Missy to another cancer diagnosis in April of 2018, I have no doubt that our healthier lifestyle choices bought me 3 more years with her.
R.I.P., my little girl.
Buzz continues to live with my ex-husband and recently turned 12 years old.
My Feist mix Wally just had his 6th birthday in August of 2023 and thrives on his raw diet. I had adopted him in 2019 when he was a little over 1 year old.
Back then, he was an itchy mess so I switched him from kibble to raw dog food. I keep him at a healthy weight too in order to prevent aching joints and dog arthritis.
Now it’s your turn – how do you support your dog’s joint health to prevent dog arthritis? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!