Sometimes, the toughest part of watching your dog get older is seeing them slow down. They don’t move with the same excitement and they’re not as spry as the days they were a playful puppy.
This is often a direct result of joint pain and diminishing mobility as they age, which is an even greater challenge to treat because most dogs won’t moan or whine as a result, letting you know they’re in so much pain from those aging joints. The most common treatments are often pain medications and prescription drugs that can bring unwanted side effects like something as simple as a loss of appetite or even greater loss of energy for your dog. This is exactly why it’s so important for pet owners to provide their pets with additional support in the form of natural remedies like CBD treatment and of course, a diet packed with anti-inflammatory foods.
But what exactly does an anti-inflammatory diet consist of and how does it work?
First, it’s important to understand inflammation and its connection to the painful degenerative joint disease, arthritis.
Inflammation is a process in which the body’s white blood cells protect it from infection by bacteria and viruses, attempting to heal wounds and injuries of all sorts. In this sense, inflammation is a valuable and necessary immune response. But sometimes, with diseases like arthritis, an inflammatory response when there is no outside bacteria to fight can cause damage to tissues and even digestive problems. Your immune system also releases chemical messengers called cytokines, the messengers within the body that regulate inflammation. According to Dr. Robert Zembroski, MD, a specialist in functional medicine, those cytokines can wreak havoc on neurotransmitters and affect the amygdala, which is a part of the brain that plays a heavy role in regulating and processing emotions. This can lead to triggering anxiety, depression, and even hallucinations. Research is backing these findings up by revealing higher levels of inflammation in people suffering from things like depression, suicidal thoughts, and PTSD in people. Further, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, and Gouty arthritis are just a few examples of the autoimmune diseases associated with these painful inflammation responses. Redness, swollen joints, joint pain, stiff joints, and even complete loss of joint function and mobility can result, turning the natural inflammation process into something that is dreadful to watch your beloved dog endure.
Food, as you may have guessed by now, can have a strong influence on inflammation. Inflammation of the chronic variety is internal inflammation that persists over time and serves no purpose for actually healing anything. It simply wreaks havoc on their joints as arthritis slowly wears tissue down over time, just as harmful to canines as it can be to humans.
There are spices that contain certain nutrients that keep inflammation at bay, and those can, of course, be added to dishes within your dog’s regular meals. The added bonus here is that you may find your pup enjoys the new tastes these spices create for them, so you’ve killed two birds with one stone here by giving them a little extra incentive to eat up. Some of these spices include:
As for the foods that can help with inflammation alone, you can often find the anti-inflammatory vitamins needed in many common dog foods. You don’t necessarily have to go out of your way to create an entirely new daily menu for your dog just to make sure they’re getting a balanced anti-inflammatory diet — at the very least you can simply pay closer attention to the labels on the food you’re already giving them. Look for foods with animal-based omega 3 fatty acids, which are often found the easiest in recipes that contain fish. In fact, many pet owners even go so far as to give their pets fish oil supplements in pill or capsule form. Research supports these fatty acids can also help your pet with skin conditions, allergies, kidney function, lymphoma, heart disease, and even cognitive function.
Berries, especially blueberries, and other fruits like papayas and cherries are helpful for relieving inflammation also. Aside from providing antioxidants, protecting cholesterol in your blood from being damaged, and maintaining healthy brain function, the specific antioxidant called anthocyanin fights inflammation. Anthocyanins stimulate the production of natural killer cells (NK cells), which help keep the immune system functioning at its best, which in turn regulates chronic inflammation. There are also other inflammatory markers that are reduced when certain berries and fruits are consumed, therefore lowering the risk of heart problems, making these an all-around good addition to your pup’s diet.
For many of the same reasons, leafy greens and vegetables, including kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, pumpkin, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes can also help with inflammation as well. Similar to all those spices, many of these vegetables can also add a little bit of flavor to your dog’s meal that they will enjoy. In fact, even adding more color to your dog’s plate or bowl will tend to pique their appetite, making the entire dish more appealing to them simply with a splash of vibrant colors added by fruits and vegetables. As you of course know, many of their packaged dry and wet foods are very bland as far as the color spectrum is concerned, so just this little change of scenery for them will be an exciting treat.
As you can see, helping your dog get an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t require a ton of research, preparation, or really even changing their diet much overall. It’s often simply a matter of adding in a few foods that offer extra vitamins and minerals with anti-inflammatory properties. You can typically keep feeding your dog many of the same meals they’d get on a day-to-day basis and start mixing in new vegetables, fruits, or spices that you find they’ll like. Over time, you’ll start to notice which additions your dog prefers and which ones they don’t love. And hopefully, in the process relieve some of the painful inflammation that comes with arthritis.