Hip dysplasia is a condition that can be super painful for your pup, and just as hurtful for pet parents to watch. It occurs when your dog's hip joint is malformed, so it rubs and grinds instead of sliding smoothly. Most pups start showing symptoms (difficulty rising, reluctance to jump) when they're puppies. Larger breeds such as Mastiffs and Labrador Retrievers are more prone due to the extra weight place on their bones, as are pups with a high body-to-mass ratio such as Bulldogs and Pugs. Aside from genetic disposition and insufficient exercise, poor nutrition and over-supplementation can worsen the condition, according to Dr. Judy Morgan, a New Jersey-based veterinarian. We asked her what type of diet can help lessen the risk and alleviate symptoms.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Dr. Morgan is a fan of omega-3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the hips. Omega-3s naturally occur in fish oil and flaxseed oil, which can be given to pups as a supplement or included in their diet. Solid foods high in omega-3s, like salmon and chia seeds also lubricate joints.
Foods with a high calcium content like yogurt also help strengthen bones and prevent further damage to joints. Adding more calcium into adult dogs' diets can alleviate discomfort and also reduce the risk of arthritis, which can accompany hip dysplasia as they age. Just be careful to monitor calcium intake in puppies, since high consumption can lead to overgrowth.
Iron and Vitamin C
A common autoimmune response to canine hip dysplasia is anemia, but a diet high in iron can help combat this condition. Meats like beef and chicken are naturally high in iron, and leafy greens contain the mineral, too. Greens like kale and spinach also have a high vitamin C content, which is great for rebuilding connective tissues that can be broken down by dysplasia.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Dr. Morgan suggests incorporating ingredients like bone broth, cartilage, and ground bone to add a supply of glucosamine and chondroitin, which help strengthen and rebuild cartilage. "I love adding New Zealand deer antler velvet and green-lipped mussels, as these provide superb joint support," she says.
Aside from incorporating these ingredients into your pup's diet, it's important to feed your dog an amount that's suitable for their size. If your pup has already been diagnosed and is currently overweight, helping him lose those lbs will help ease discomfort and lessen pressure placed on his hip joints. Overfeeding during the puppy phases can also place your pup at a higher risk. "Calorie and carbohydrate consumption should be controlled to keep body mass lean and to slow growth," says Dr. Morgan.
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