Bringing a new puppy home is exciting, but between all the playing, house training and fluffy cuddles, it’s easy to forget about joint health.
Joint care for dogs isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are easy steps you can take from day one to encourage a healthy lifestyle that prevents the development of joint issues down the road. Here are some of the most important ones...
Fueling your puppy’s growth
Over the course of one year, the average golden retriever puppy grows the equivalent of an 18-year-old person. In other words, puppies grow super fast!
Just like humans, rapid growth can take its toll on developing joints, so it’s important to feed your puppy the nutrients they need to grow safely.
(While any dog can have joint problems, if your puppy is a large breed dog like a retriever or shepherd, you’ll want to be extra aware as these breeds are genetically predisposed to joint conditions.)
Nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin are natural cartilage building blocks, while nutrients like calcium and phosphorus support healthy bone development. You’ll find these essential nutrients (and more) in all ZIWI Peak whole-prey recipes, which are designed for dogs of all breeds and ages - including large breed puppies.
Training is also a big part of your puppy’s life, and while it can be tempting to give them lots of treats (especially when they’re struggling to pick up a new command), too many of the wrong kind can lead to excess weight gain and other health issues.
This is where ZIWI Good Dog Rewards come in handy. These tasty treats have 96% New Zealand meat, organs and New Zealand Green Mussels, so you can spoil your puppy without compromising on nutrition (just remember to account for them in your pet’s daily calorie intake). Pop a few in your hand and they’ll be sitting, staying and rolling over in no time!
Health & fitness for adult dogs
Weight control is an important part of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Excess weight puts pressure on your dogs joints, which increases their risk of arthritis, hip dysplasia and a bunch of other health issues.
On the other hand, keeping your dog at a healthy weight has been proven to reduce the degenerative joint disease process by relieving stress on the joint. Even a small amount of weight loss reduces the risk of your dog developing arthritis, so if they need to lose a few pounds, it’s well worth helping them do it.
Switching to the right quantities of the right food (which our feeding calculator can help you with) is a great place to start, but exercise is also important.
Running, walking and playing aren't just fun ways for you and your dog to stay fit, regular exercise actually tones and supports the muscles around your dog’s joints, keeping them strong and agile. Plus it’s great for their mental health!
Because dogs have a tendency to ignore discomfort (making it tricky to pick up the warning signs), we recommend regular visits to your vet to make sure your adult dog’s joints are healthy - and consult your vet immediately if you think they’re in pain.
Joint support for senior dogs
As your dog ages, their collagen levels decrease, which can sometimes result in stiff, inflamed and painful joints.
We understand it can be hard to see your furry friend, who was once fearless and full of energy, now struggle to walk up and down the street - let alone chase the ball they used to be obsessed with.
The good news is that the right nutrition, along with low-impact exercise, can help to alleviate pain and keep your senior dog moving comfortably.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the two most commonly used nutraceuticals (food that provides health benefits) to alleviate pain associated with arthritis. These nutrients are abundant in New Zealand Green Mussels (a key ingredient in all our wet and dry food) and have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 fatty acids (particularly EPA and DHA) are also found in these mussels and are widely recognised to provide beneﬁts against an array of canine conditions and disorders.
So, if your senior dog has slowed down and you’re looking to make life a little easier for them, make sure you’re feeding them a diet rich in all of these nutrients.
There are lots of supplements out there, and your vet will advise you when or if your dog ever needs some extra support. But as a general rule, a preventative approach to joint care is best! Remember to:
- Feed your dog a high-quality diet with natural sources of glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3, calcium, and phosphorus.
- Train, motivate and reward them with natural, high value treats rich in meat and other superfoods.
- Watch their weight - a healthy dog is a happy dog!
A balanced lifestyle with good nutrition, adequate exercise and lots of love will save you time, money and stress down the track.