Bone, Joint and Muscle Health – The Importance of Bone, Joint and Muscle Support for Your Dog

Your dog’s musculoskeletal system includes the bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, and other connective tissue. It supports their body, permits movement, and protects their vital organs. Because many other body systems (including their nervous system, blood vessels, and skin) are interrelated, disorders of one of these systems may also affect their musculoskeletal system.

Preventing joint and muscle issues for your dog is always preferable to curing these issues.

Every dog requires exercise of some kind to keep them fit, healthy and happy. The amount and type of exercise will depend on your dog's breed and age, but we need to be giving them a suitable amount of exercise every day. And to keep their bones healthy, regular and consistent exercise is the key. Irregular walks mean your dog's bones and joints aren't getting used on the off days. Just as importantly, dogs absolutely love walking. Denying them will not only be detrimental to your dog's bones, but they'll also likely be annoyed, restless and perhaps even sad.

As with us, excess weight on your dog contributes significantly to a variety of health problems, including joint and muscle issues.

Being overweight can result in hip dysplasia as well as osteoarthritis caused by the excess forces placed on joints and articular cartilage, which may lead to inactivity and further weight gain. But perhaps more clinically relevant, adipose tissue is metabolically active and pro-inflammatory; therefore, obesity may contribute to inflammation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

It is essential that your dog’s weight is controlled by ensuring they are not over-consuming food and treats. Assigning a body condition score (BCS) and muscle condition score is essential for preventing the conditions of being overweight (BCS 6-7/9) or obese (BCS 8-9/9).

Several studies have demonstrated a relationship between overweight and obese dogs and osteoarthritis (6). A long-term study of 48 dogs fed the same diet found that those fed 25% less quantity experienced longer delay to development of chronic disease, including osteoarthritis. (7) They also weighed less, had better BCS, and lived an average of 1.8 years longer. Maintaining optimal or slightly lean body condition may lower risk of developing osteoarthritis, reduce the severity of osteoarthritis, and delay onset of clinical signs of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Bonza is a scientifically formulated dog food that provides a blend of ingredients that will not just excite their taste senses but equally importantly, provide them with preventative support for their joints, muscles and bones.

The diverse blend of protein sources in Bonza including oats, sweet potato, chickpeas, peas, potato, fava beans, and nutritional yeast, not only gives them the natural, powerful nutrients necessary for healthy bones, joints and muscle, it also provides them with healthy fibre. The types, and levels, of fibre in our food keeps your dog feeling fuller for longer which assists with your dog’s weight management, as well as providing prebiotic support for their gut health which in turn benefits their overall health. 

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a genetic, degenerative joint disease first seen in the 1930’s. It more often affects large breeds but can happen in any dog. Unfortunately, cases of dysplasia appear to be on the rise in dogs of all shapes and sizes. Dogs with hip dysplasia have a ball and socket that don’t develop properly or deteriorate with their passing years. Over time they can rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly.

This is a painful condition that causes deterioration and loss of function. Hip dysplasia is not arthritis. But in most cases, it leads to osteoarthritis in that joint.

Natural Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Hip Dysplasia:

Prevention and support are the key approaches to naturally manage your dog’s hip dysplasia. And exercise and diet are at the top of that list.

Weight control and diet are the most important ways to address hip dysplasia. Being overweight places a strain on your dog’s joints. If they’re already in the throes of hip dysplasia, it increases that pain and inflammation. And if they’re not, it will tax the joints and lead to early weakening of the joint structure, cartilage, and ligaments. When your dog maintains an ideal weight it’s easier to exercise and have them take part in regular activities that keep them lean (and happy).

The first step to reducing the risk, and minimising the impact on your dog, of hip dysplasia is to ensure you are not overfeeding your dog.

Bonza has been developed to provide them with the satiety they need from their food, so you feel happy that their tummies are satisfied after their meals making weight control a much happier thing for both you and your dog. See weight management for dogs for details on the natural ingredients we include in your dog’s Bonza food to support the maintenance of their ideal weight

If you have a breed that’s prone to hip dysplasia, then feeding joint supportive supplements throughout their life will help mitigate the progress of this disease as well as reducing the painful symptoms caused by inflammation in your dog’s joints. Fortunately, several of these are foods, botanicals and herbs that can, and should be, added to your dog’s diet.

The impact of an anti-inflammatory diet on silent inflammation can elevate the diet from simply a source of calories to being on the cutting edge of gene-silencing technology. (1, 2)

Bonza’s plant-based dog food includes a wide variety of ingredients with powerful, scientifically researched anti-inflammatory properties that will help to support a reduction in inflammation for your dog offering them more comfortable movement.

Primary ingredients in Bonza providing this anti-inflammatory activity are oats and quinoa.

Offering synergistic support for these primary anti-inflammatories are our inflammation reducing herbs, botanicals, oils and supplements - turmeric, ginger, chamomile, echinacea, Reishi mushroom, Siberian ginseng, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), Glucosamine, pineapple, baobab, parsley, sage, rosemary, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, olive oil extract, kale, spinach, seaweed, seaweed extract and cranberries.

What is Canine Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs is a form of chronic joint inflammation caused by the deterioration of the joint cartilage. It is highly prevalent in dogs (1, 2, 3), mainly in overweight and large breed dogs. Some breeds (i.e. the Labrador Retriever, the German Shephard etc.) are even genetically predisposed to develop arthritis (4).

There is no known cause for primary OA, while there are a wide variety of causes for secondary OA, such as traumas, abnormal wear on the joints and cartilages, the hip or elbow dysplasia, the dislocation of the kneecap or shoulder, and dissecans osteochondritis. Finally, obese dogs, because of the high stress levels on their joints, and dogs with disorders such as diabetes, prolonged steroid treatment, and hyper laxity may also be at a higher risk of OA (5).

The disease is accompanied by chronic pain, lameness and stiffness, particularly after prolonged activity. Their quality of life is reduced, leading finally to the loss of joint functions and mobility. Currently no cure exists, and the pharmacological treatment is limited to clinical signs alleviation.

Natural Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Osteoarthritis:

A diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) in your dog can feel devastating and even overwhelming. After all, we know that osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative disease that worsens over time.

By most estimates, 20% of all dogs (regardless of age) are affected by OA, making it the most common chronic disease they face. Once a dog is diagnosed with OA, it is important to understand that the focus is management rather than cure. Success means maximizing your dog's comfort and function while minimizing pain.

Research shows that a number of herbs have a positive effect on the inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis. These include Boswellia, turmeric, Eremostachys laciniata, Eucommia ulmoides, chamomile, Ashwagandha and ginger. (6)

Weight Management and Arthritis in Dogs

There is clear evidence in human and veterinary medicine that carrying too much body weight is not good for arthritis. Not only through the actual weight of the fat but also because of the effect it has on inflammation within the joints due to the compounds that exist in fat.

If your dog is overweight (greater than Body Condition Score 5 out of 9) weight reduction alone will significantly improve their condition.

Weight loss can be achieved by either changing what you feed, how much you feed, how you feed, when you feed, the amount of exercise you give them. The options to tackle this problem are endless but all completely achievable.

If your dog has a body condition score greater than 5/9, losing that excess weight and excess fat will help to improve their joint function at the same time as reducing pain.

These are recommendations for Canine Arthritis Management (CAM):

  1. Look at what you feed, how much you feed, how you feed, how often you feed and when you feed. By considering adjusting other elements of feeding, you will have more weight management options.
  2. Leave one person in the household in charge of feeding to ensure consistency in the routine and quantity. Encourage them to use scales if feeding kibble.
  3. Record your dog’s weight weekly in a way the whole family can see.
  4. Weight may not change immediately but there might still be a difference: measure your pet with a tape measure directly behind the elbows and directly in front of the knees. Make a note for future reference.
  5. Put reminders around the house that your dog is on a diet.
  6. Remove temptation and hide away all the dog treats.
  7. Discourage friends, colleagues and other dog walkers from offering your dog treats.
  8. Feed your dog in a ‘Kong’ or another delayed feeding device or scatter feed in the garden or on the floor. This will slow down eating and reduce the pleading eyes for more!
  9. Start indoor exercises to encourage further weight loss as well as improve muscular strength.
  10. Remember that weight loss is more effective with dietary change than increased exercise alone.

Plant-based diets have been shown to have a significant, and positive, effect on weight management due to feelings of satiety and this is supported by Keller (1), who found that plant-based proteins have higher satiety ratings than animal-based proteins. Thus, the dogs may find the plant-based diets more satiating than the animal-based diets.

Bonza has been formulated using ingredients that not only provide your dog with optimum levels of all the nutrients vital for their health but also with higher levels of soluble and insoluble fibre that provides them with the feeling of fullness and satiety that makes them happy and content after their meals, helping you to manage your dog’s weight.

Does Exercise Help Manage Arthritis in Dogs?

Historically it was thought that dogs with arthritis should limit their activity, and “exercise restriction” was prescribed. It turns out this recommendation is incorrect and if strictly followed, would contribute to your dog gaining weight, having stiff joints, losing muscle, and experiencing a decline in their functional abilities.

The best recommendation for dogs with arthritis is “exercise modification.” This means dogs SHOULD exercise, in fact, they should ideally do something every single day rather than be weekend warriors.

The ideal exercise program for dogs with arthritis is one that is regular, low-impact, and controlled. Regular exercise means your dog is going for walks most days, rather than doing one big activity at the end of the week. Swimming, if it is possible, is an excellent form of low impact exercise for dogs suffering from joint stiffness and arthritis.

A study (1) found that dogs with hip arthritis that exercised for >60 minutes/ day had lower lameness scores than dogs that exercised <20 minutes/day.

Supplements for Relief of Arthritis in Dogs:

Many dogs are prescribed NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) when the symptoms of joint stiffness and arthritis are evident and diagnosed.

While these NSAIDs likely help to reduce inflammation, and associated pain, they have also been shown to have a material impact on dog’s health, and the potential for the development of adverse health effects in dogs is well accepted (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Natural treatments for arthritis and joint pain in dogs remove the potential for the development of adverse health effects caused by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.  As arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, key to making your dog feel happy, less painful and more mobile is a reduction in inflammation.

Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) highlight the following natural supplements readily available to support a reduction in inflammation and alleviation of arthritic pain for our dogs here.

Bonza engaged with integrative and holistic veterinarians, as well as canine herbalists, in selecting a range of natural, plant-based anti-inflammatory ingredients, including potent herbs, botanicals and adaptogens, that will not have adverse effects on your dog’s health at the same time providing support for their painful joint conditions.

These include Omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA and EPA) from algae (seaweed), Glucosamine, turmeric, ginger, chamomile, echinacea, Reishi mushroom, Siberian ginseng, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), pineapple, baobab, parsley, sage, rosemary, rapeseed oil, coconut oil, olive oil extract, kale, spinach, seaweed, seaweed extract, yucca schidigera extract and cranberries.

These science informed ingredients are specifically selected to provide synergistic support for your dog’s joint and hip condition in a natural and gentle fashion.

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