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Dogs who are slow to get up in the morning, walk stiffly or avoid stairs may be experiencing joint pain. Older and larger dogs may be affected by osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage or cushion in the joints breaks down. Dogs with osteoarthritis experience swelling, stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis affects at least 20% of dogs over one year of age. In the larger dogs and breeds which grow rapidly, that rate can reach 75% to 90%. Early treatment may improve joint mobility and slow down the rate of damage. However, dogs with osteoarthritis can experience reduced pain through a therapeutic program that includes diet changes, supplements and medication.
The ideal diet for weight loss involves cutting calories without eliminating essential nutrients. Several reduced calorie diets are available that insure an adequate supply of necessary nutrients in a lower calorie package. These foods are usually higher in fiber content. Increasing the fiber content allows the pet to feel full, while the decrease in calories ensures the pet loses weight.
Hill’s Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution has been shown to reduce body fat by 28% among pets. This therapeutic food is formulated with L-carnitine, which helps dogs burn excess body fat and spare lean muscle mass, without depriving them of needed caloric intake.
Treats should be limited when a pet is obese. Most treats are packed with calories and salt, and are designed to keep pets wanting more. But there are low-calorie treats on the market. Lean Treats are always a popular option, as well as Dr. Muller Slim Snacks.
Increased activity is an important component to any weight loss program. Please remember that your pet may be out of shape and an exercise program should be increased slowly. You can’t run a marathon on your first day jogging. Check with your veterinarian for an appropriate exercise program tailored for your pet. When implementing an exercise program, avoid periods of high temperature and humidity. An out of shape dog will be more sensitive to stress from the heat and sun.
If your pet has mobility issues due to weight or lack of exercise, consider supplementing with joint supporting chews, which help your dog become more flexible with less pain.