If you’ve ever rolled an ankle or sprained a wrist, you know inflammation is no fun. As natural-born athletes, dogs love adventure and sometimes experience injury and inflammation just like we do.
But did you know that inflammation can also be caused by diet? Truth.
More and more, people are grasping how inflammation impacts health — and how a balanced diet can help us fight it. The same is true when it comes to inflammation in dogs! Read on for tips on choosing the best anti-inflammatory dog foods to improve mobility and comfort for your favorite canine.
Recognizing and reducing inflammation
First, let’s look at what happens in the body with injury. Inflammation is the body’s natural first responder. Acute inflammation — the type associated with injury — sounds the alarm, bringing the body’s attention to the site of the injury.
Great, right? But in order to allow the body’s vital systems to do their healing work, inflammation must step aside. If the inflammatory response continues to stick around, it gets in the way and becomes known as chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to a whole bunch of health issues separate from an initial injury, like obesity or even cancers. If your dog has chronic inflammation, you may notice:
- skin conditions
- persistent infections
Given the issues and pain that chronic inflammation can cause, it’s absolutely vital to reduce it. But what can be done? Remember that idea of eating to reduce inflammation? Let’s talk about anti-inflammatory diets for dogs.
The link between diet and chronic inflammation in dogs
Sure, we know that food is the fuel that drives our bodies. In humans, diets that are high in saturated fat, trans fats, sugar, and/or refined carbohydrates can increase inflammation symptoms — and the same is true for dogs.
Internal inflammation, like when your dog has an irritated digestive tract, is harder to spot than a sprained paw. We often overlook the idea of food as medicine when it comes to our dogs.
There are specific anti-inflammatory foods that can help fight a dog’s inflammation, but before you look at specific ingredients, think about whether the form of dog food you’re using is a problem.
Dry kibble is a highly processed food, and causes more inflammation in your dog’s digestive system, while whole, minimally processed dog foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
What to look for when planning an anti-inflammatory diet for dogs
The reason that minimally processed, gently cooked dog foods help fight inflammation comes down to bioavailability. Bioavailability means how easily your dog’s body can absorb and use the proteins in any dog food.
Animal-based proteins have the highest bioavailability, but that changes with how the meal is cooked. Cooking dog food at extreme temperatures decreases the amount of protein your pet is able to use.
Raw and gently cooked pet foods retain the most bioavailability. After that, freeze-dried, dehydrated, and slow-baked meals are most bioavailable. High-temperature processing, such as the extrusion process that most dry dog food undergoes, has the lowest bioavailability.
Extrusion affects amino acid structures, making them less usable or even unusable for dogs. If a food’s bioavailability is low, the body cannot absorb the benefits.
You can add anti-inflammatory supplements to your dog's diet, too
Once you’ve got your dog on a highly bioavailable, minimally processed food like A Pup Above, consider adding some natural anti-inflammatory foods to your dog’s meals.
These nutritional powerhouses are packed with all sorts of health benefits and have been shown to reduce swelling and prevent chronic inflammation.
- Fish Oil (not fish liver oil) — High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA)
- Turmeric — Boasts over two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds
- Yucca — Contains saponins, which help reduce pain and stiffness
- Apples — A great source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, vitamin A, folate and vitamin E plus potent disease-fighting antioxidants
- Blueberries — a rich source of antioxidants
Supporting your dog’s digestive system with probiotics
The microbiome refers to the bacterial culture within the gut. Positive bacteria, or probiotics, assist in digestion and help maintain a happy gut. A happy gut is home to bacteria that helps reduce inflammation, and maintains a healthy gut wall.
An anti-inflammatory diet for dogs that supports a healthy microbiome is a huge part of protecting the immune system from chronic inflammatory conditions like Inflammatory Bowel and Leaky Gut issues.
Add goat’s milk or kefir milk into your dog’s food daily for a natural anti-inflammatory kickstart of probiotics. These milks are excellent supplemental probiotic foods for dogs, and they make fun frozen treats that can entertain your canine. Talk to your vet for more ideas — good probiotics for dogs are available at many quality pet supply stores.
Get proactive about fighting inflammation
Your dog loves to move and groove — inflammation anywhere in the body makes a dog’s life harder. You can help reduce inflammation with medications, but in many cases, changing your dog to an anti-inflammatory diet is just as effective.
Seek out a fresh, whole foods brand like A Pup Above, and steer clear of highly processed foods like kibble and canned food. Add natural anti-inflammatory supplements and probiotic support to your dog’s meals if your dog is sluggish or shows signs of chronic inflammation.
Bottom line, taking a closer look at what you feed your dog every day can make a big impact on healing and comfort for your beloved pup.