The pet food industry provides dog and cat owners with an increasing number of specific products for all needs, but above all for every health problem. For example, products specifically for animals with joint disorders has been created; such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, lameness and minor age-related problems.
How to tell if your dog or cat has joint problems
In most cases, all animals, over the years begin to show the typical problems related to aging. Among these, one of the first signs mainly affects the bones and joints, which progressively weaken over the years.
In these situations, joints become stiffer especially in the front and rear limbs, typically accompanied by pain, which can then lead to serious consequences such as arthritis and osteoarthritis (arthrosis). These two conditions manifest themselves with typical symptoms, but they are actually two different problems. Arthritis, in fact, is an inflammation of the joints caused mainly by autoimmune factors, very common in dogs. Arthrosis, on the other hand, is a progressive degeneration of the joints, which over the years inevitably undergo a certain wear.
To understand if dogs and cats suffer from joint disorders, we must pay attention to some signs:
- The cat reaches the litter tray with difficulty;
- Jumps with less energy;
- Runs little and refuses to do it often;
- He also refuses to walk during play times outside;
- Tends to stay in his kennel for a long time;
- Walk stiffly, especially when awake;
- Limp or have a shaky gait.
If your pet is showing at least one of these symptoms, remember to talk to your veterinarian. Often, in fact, lameness can also hide other rather serious problems, such as hip dysplasia. In addition, all joint problems create a certain discomfort for the animal, affecting their lifestyle negatively.
The diet for joint problems
Foods for animals with joint problems have very specific characteristics. First, it is important to keep the weight constant, because the joints, already suffering, could be negatively affected from the excessive body weight.
For this reason, we must make sure that we give our friend a balanced diet, appropriate to his physical structure. If the dog is already overweight, we will need to make him lose weight by introducing a low-calorie diet. Furthermore, pay attention to the doses, which must be accurate.
We can also use food supplements in tablet form in addition to the normal diet. Alternatively, specific foods for joint problems are already enriched with some of these substances, which protect the joints, reducing inflammation. We are talking above all about Omega-3 fatty acids and two very important components: glucosamine and chondroitin-sulphate.
Among the Omega-3 fatty acids, the most suitable for joint well-being is mainly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), mainly stored in oily fish, seeds and algae. The body uses this acid to produce another important substance, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Both are be able to reduce joint inflammation.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are included in supplements and foods with the term "sulphates". These are natural sugars, normally present in the joint cartilages. They are called "chondroprotectors", precisely because they would be able to help the body to strengthen and rebuild the cartilage present in the joints, providing relief in case of arthritis or osteoarthritis (arthrosis).
To explain this concept, we must first of all understand how a joint is made. We assume that our body, as well as that of our animals, includes a large amount of joints, because the number of bones present is really high. Let's take movable joints, such as those in the hip, arm, or leg as an example.
In these cases, the bones cannot be joined together, because otherwise the limb could not move. However, to enable their proximity (to be able to articulate perfectly), the space between the two bones is filled with cartilage (to be clear, the one that makes up the auricle), rich in collagen (a very elastic substance).
At this point, it is easy to understand what "chondroprotectors" are and what they are for. These are, in fact, substances that protect the cartilages present in the joints, constantly enriching and regenerating them. A joint, which is poor in cartilage, will not be able to withstand the many daily activities.
On the market, you can find many types of foods that include all these characteristics. Therefore, if your four-legged friend has joint problems, rely on the advice of your veterinarian, who will be able to indicate the most appropriate solution.
Always remember to keep training your dog or cat, to avoid or prevent joint degeneration. Make sure your veterinarian does not recommend absolute rest, at least for the first period, so try to get the animal to move even a few steps a day.