How Good Nutrition Can Help You Treat Your Dog’s Health Conditions

Chocolate and White Labradoodle Puppy eating or drinking from a bowl

(Picture Credit: victoriarak/Getty Images)

Good nutrition is one of the most powerful weapons against poor health in humans and dogs alike. Obviously, good nutrition is essential in preventing certain health conditions from developing in the first place, but it can also be used to improve existing health conditions.

In all cases, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about proper nutrition for your dog, especially while managing a medical condition. But the good news is there’s a lot you can do to help your dog just by feeding them the right targeted foods.

Here are a few health conditions and how dog parents can help treat their pets through targeted nutrition.

Weight Management

Ideal weight isn’t just difficult for humans to maintain; it can be tough for dogs, too, especially for certain breeds prone to obesity.

Sometimes, sad personal history is to blame, where a dog may have had to eat everything possible whenever they could because they didn’t know when they’d have access to food again — and that can be a hard survival habit to break.

Portion control and limited meals — versus unlimited access to food — are key in good nutrition for helping your dog slim down. Sometimes, your dog just needs to learn or re-learn hunger cues from their body.

You can try decreasing their food with your vet’s supervision by 15 to 20 percent for one to two months and see if that helps. Your vet can guide you as to the exact amounts needed for weight loss while still maintaining adequate nutrient intake.

Diabetes

Veterinary doctor giving injection for dog

(Picture Credit: ardaayderman/Getty Images)

A common comorbidity with obesity in dogs, just as in humans, is diabetes. Specifically, diabetes mellitus is a condition in which dogs cannot properly manage their glucose levels.

While some controllable lifestyle factors can cause this, genetics also come into play for predisposition. Your vet will have to diagnose the condition and prescribe the proper insulin injections. But dietary choice is so important here, too, to maintain the best health possible for your dog.

There are several “therapeutic foods” designed to aid your dog’s glycemic control. These are only available through a vet, who will determine the proper formulation and amount needed for your individual dog.

With proper nutritional and insulin management, your dog can still have a wonderful life.

Arthritis

You can help your arthritic dog out a lot by keeping inflammatory ingredients out of their diet. These include added salt or sugar, as well as artificial ingredients. Foods high in grain, corn, fatty proteins, Omega-6 fatty acids (the less healthy cousin of Omega-3s) are also good to avoid.

According to TopDogHealth.com, a dog’s body converts excess omega-6s such as linoleic acid to arachidonic acid, which is highly inflammatory to arthritis sufferers.

On the other hand, there are some great ingredients that can help your dog’s arthritis feel even better. The healthy cousin, Omega-3, is a fantastic anti-inflammatory agent, along with other essential fatty acids, like DHA and EPA.

Antioxidants are also important and widely available in many ingredients. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs, e.g. chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine) are found in many joint supplements and even foods. Several dog foods are specifically formulated with essential nutrients to help with arthritis.

Kidney Disease

The Shih Tzu dog put the chin on the window, made a sad face and looked to the side.

(Picture Credit: ArLawKa AungTun/Getty Images)

The kidney is responsible for filtering waste products out of the bloodstream to be excreted through urine, so when a dog has kidney disease, that means there will be a buildup of some of those waste products in the bloodstream, as the filtration isn’t working properly.

Luckily, there are several dog foods you can get from your vet that target problems associated with kidney disease. These foods can help maintain fluid and mineral balance while ensuring adequate nourishment.

Omega-3 fatty acids are, again, key in helping proper function. You’ll find them in abundance in kidney support dog foods, which are also often low in sodium, phosphorous, and protein.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is no fun for us humans or dogs. But our poor, four-legged counterparts don’t have quite as many options to help as we do. Luckily, there are some dietary tips that can decrease the occurrence for them.

It’s no wonder this condition is so uncomfortable — acid reflux in dogs is actually the uncontrollable reversal of fluids from the stomach or intestines up through the esophagus. It affects many dogs, especially younger ones.

This can cause inflammation and even permanent damage, so it’s a good idea to find solutions that reduce symptoms.

There are some specially formulated dog foods for sensitive stomachs, but in general, you’ll want to stick to foods low in fat and low in protein.

Have you ever used nutrition to help with a dog’s health condition? Do you think the right diet can treat or prevent medical issues? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Food & Nutrition Resources For Dog Parents