Do you know the 5 nutrition tips for dogs that can’t walk? Most of us with disabled pets are so caught up in the daily routine of taking care of our dogs that we never stop think about their special nutritional needs.
When Sophie was sick, I relied on our veterinarian for this kind of advice, but his answers were based on the needs of healthy dogs. He didn’t have the information I needed, like which supplements would prevent urinary tract infections or which foods would keep a paralyzed dog as healthy as possible.
So when the Petcurean Pet Nutrition company reached out with an offer for their senior nutritionist to answer questions, I jumped at the chance. I sent a list of my toughest questions to Dr. Jennifer Adolphe Ph.D. RD. She replied with answers about nutrition that are tailored for dogs with paralysis, incontinence and other mobility problems.
This story first posted in 2015, but the information is important enough to be shared again today.
Here are Dr. Adolphe’s 5 nutrtion tips for dogs that can’t walk
Do the nutritional needs of paralyzed dogs and those with conditions like IVDD, Degenerative Myelopathy or arthritis differ from healthy dogs?
The nutritional needs of paralyzed dogs do not differ from healthy dogs, though particular emphasis should be placed on promoting joint health as well as achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Excess body fat reduces both lifespan as well as the quality of life in dogs. For paralyzed dogs, carrying extra body weight impacts their mobility and comfort. Body weight is a balancing act between energy intake (food) versus energy output (activity). It is best to prevent weight gain in the first place since weight loss is difficult to achieve, particularly for paralyzed dogs with reduced mobility. A body condition chart can help you determine if your dog is at a healthy body weight. Look for a proportioned, hourglass body shape when viewed from above and a tummy tuck when viewed from the side. There should be a slight layer of fat over the ribs, spine and hip bones, but you should be able to feel the ribs quite easily without pressing hard.
If your dog needs to lose a few pounds, reduce the amount you feed gradually until you achieve a modest rate of weight loss of 1-2% per week. Losing weight too quickly can be harmful to your dog. Ideally, you should weigh your dog’s food rather than use a measuring cup or free-feeding since weighing is much more accurate. Avoid the temptation of giving too many extra treats as the calories can add up quickly.
Being overweight is a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis in dogs. Ensuring your paralyzed dog maintains an ideal body weight is one of the most important things you can do to promote joint health throughout life.
2. Are there supplements you suggest for dogs with mobility problems?
Speak with your veterinarian about which supplements may be helpful for your dog. Some examples of supplements recommended for joint health include glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussels, natural eggshell membrane and omega-3 fatty acids. L-carnitine and a diet that is higher in protein and fiber may help.
3. UTI’s are a constant battle for paralyzed dogs. Is there something owners can add to their pet’s diet to keep to minimize this problem?
Increasing fluid intake is one of the best lines of defense to promote urinary tract health by diluting the urine and encouraging more frequent urination. If you feed a dry dog food, you can add water to the food to increase fluid intake. Canned or moist foods can also be used as a partial or complete substitution for kibble. Remember that kibble with water added and canned foods need to be eaten right away and leftovers must be refrigerated to ensure food safety. Make sure fresh, clean water is always available in multiple locations throughout your house. Opportunities for frequent bathroom breaks need to go hand-in-hand with increased water consumption.
Supplements that may help to prevent urinary tract infections include D-mannose and cranberries. These act by preventing E. coli bacteria that cause infection from adhering to the urinary tract. Again, speak with your vet prior to starting any supplements.
4. Vacation time is almost here. What should owners keep in mind when extra food and treats are everywhere?
Keep your dog same diet regime as they receive throughout the rest of the year. However, the plentiful availability of treats and other food need some attention to make sure your dog is not overfed. Humans have been shown to gain an average of one pound during this time and this extra weight is not lost later. Over time, this can have a dramatic effect on tipping the scale towards an unhealthy body weight. For many dogs, it is likely that they, too, are a bit heavier each year due to increases in food intake and decreases in activity. Given that weight management is even more important for paralyzed dogs, it is essential to pay attention to the amount of food your dog consumes during the vacation time and the holiday season.
5. Are there any products from Petcurean that would benefit paralyzed dogs?
NOW FRESH™ Original, Small Breed and Large Breed recipes contain glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussels, L-carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids to support weight management and joint health. The recipes are grain-free and made with 100% fresh meats and oils (no rendered ingredients). For paralyzed dogs that may also have food sensitivities, our GO! Sensitivity + Shine™ Limited Ingredient duck, salmon or venison recipes may be beneficial. These recipes were designed to contain as few ingredients as possible to prevent adverse food reactions while providing complete and balanced nutrition for dogs. Our food selector and team of Health & Nutrition Specialists are available to help you select the right food for your dog.
More About Dr. Adolphe and Petcurean Pet Nutrtion
Dr. Jennifer Adolphe is the senior nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, a Canadian, family-owned company. Dr. Adolphe graduated with her Ph.D. in companion animal nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan. She previously completed a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a registered dietitian with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia. Adolphe is the recipient of more than 20 awards and scholarships for her academic work. Her work in the pet food industry has focused on product development and ingredient procurement.
Note: I am not being compensated by Petcurean Pet Nutrition for the story.