Diet & Supplements
Diet and Nutrition
Dog foods designed to aid mobility are now mainstream. However, there is little regulation of what the diet should have in it, or the effectiveness of the additional ingredients. Claims such as “improved joint health”, “added joint support”, “improved mobility support” are not regulated and can be made without the manufacturer having to prove them.
It is globally agreed that the most important factor that may influence choice of diet for an arthritic dog is reaching and maintaining optimal body weight. Being overweight (110% of their recommended body weight) or obese (120% of their recommended bodyweight) has significant impact on pain control and progression of arthritis. Ensuring the diet chosen enables controlled weight loss if needed, or maintained weight if already at the appropriate weight is a priority.
Mobility diets tend to support optimal weight management in their formulation in addition to including ingredients similar to those found in tablet, capsule, powder and liquid supplements or nutraceuticals. Through inclusion in the dog’s diet, a greater intake of these supplements per meal is potentially achievable, as well as being balanced, potentially more affordable and convenient for the owner.
Omega 3 fatty acids from marine-based sources are a common addition to a diet. Increasing a dog’s daily quotient via diet ensures enough is consumed to have clinical benefit, it is balanced with other key nutrients, and potential adverse effects of the increased concentration, such as weight gain and diarrhoea can be countered.
Hills have performed respected controlled clinical trials on their mobility diet JD, which are referred to in many other companies’ diet formulations. The results suggested their increased omega 3 to omega 6 ratio not only reduced the clinical signs of arthritis, scored by vets, it also reduced the dose of anti-inflammatory needed by the dogs.
Like with any intervention, nothing comes with a promise and suggested benefits need to be monitored and double checked over time. Dietary interventions will not result in “overnight” improvements, but are likely to take months which can be hard to monitor. Through using validated objective monitoring tools, client-specific outcome measures or the chronic pain indicator chart, a long term assessment of benefit can be made. An owner would expect to see a slow improvement in clinical signs, over months not days, as well as less acute flares.
Similar principles to the ACCLAIM strategy need to be applied to choosing a mobility diet.
Supplements & Nutraceuticals
The supplement/nutraceutical industry has boomed in recent years.
However, it is a lucrative market. It is a perfect business model; it is unregulated, there are few barriers to wild marketing, the products are appealing to concerned owners, they can be purchased without veterinary assessment, and it is hard to decipher whether they are offering benefit, but they may be affordable to continue giving on the off-chance they may offer some benefit. (Harsh but true!)
This topic is vast and is a very difficult area to offer advice on due to:
- The large numbers of products claiming health benefits for arthritis sufferers
- Wide variations in product form, and therefore absorption, activity and effect
- Believed wide variations in actual content compared with label claims
- Numerous combination products offering more and more benefits
- Subjective owner-driven input clouding actual evidence of improvements
- A simple lack of carefully controlled trials of significant size to assess statistical evidence of efficacy