We have talked about the importance of both diet and exercise when dealing with a pet that has arthritis. I think that diet is such an important issue that it is one we should discuss in greater detail. It is becoming common knowledge that as humans, our bodies perform better when we "eat right." It is equally important for pets to follow healthy food guidelines as well.
There are three "groups" of processed foods and it usually one or more of these that we purchase to feed our pets: 1) the "Generic" group, 2) the "Premium" group, and 3) the "natural foods" group. The first group is the focus of this discussion. All three groups appeal to us for obvious reasons. We like the convenience factor. All we have to do is "scoop and dish it." This first group that I will call the "generics" is the least desirable from a nutritional standpoint. Of course, that is why they carry the lowest price tag. Unfortunately, when you are trying to provide a healthy diet to an arthritic pet, it frankly does a less than desirable job in my opinion.
What is that stuff?
This is the category of pet foods that contains animal and plant by-products. If you are paying attention, they also contain artificial preservatives and additives. This group of pet foods uses the cheapest possible ingredients. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not held to extremely high standards here. It is also important to note that pet food is a "spin-off" of the human food industry. As we all know, the standards are certainly higher for food manufactured for humans than it is for pets. What happens is that the pet food segment of this industry gets the opportunity to "unload" ingredients that would not pass muster for humans. This is where you will find that even the "grains" purported to be in these foods is either over processed or is whole grain that is simply not fit for humans to eat. As well, there are often parts of an animal used in manufacturing pet food that frankly put, is not the least bit desirable.
You do not have to become a "food expert" to make decisions here. Assuming you can afford to spend a little extra for pet food, use some common sense. Price is a good guideline. If you see a 40-pound bag of dog food that is on sale for $12.95, it is likely not on the most desirable food list (a least, not from my standpoint.) If you study the label, it likely will tell you that this is correct.
Premium and All-Natural
When you move up in price, you are likely looking at "premium" and "all-natural" offerings. The premium brands are going to be on most store shelves and usually they are sold by veterinarians as well. Even this food group does not necessarily have the finest ingredients. Unfortunately, price alone does not always tell the story here. The "all-natural" pet foods, generally speaking, are the best of the bunch. These use natural preservatives and you are not going to find artificial flavoring or coloring. Of course, the price corresponds to the quality and for some of you it is not feasible from a budget standpoint. I have recommended using raw vegetables as part of your pet's diet. It is far less expensive and once they get used to it (and, if you do not overdo it) it is a healthy and less expensive approach. Pets with arthritis need solid and healthy nutrition. If your budget allows you the luxury of giving them the best, then opt for the all-natural group. Remember, high-quality liquid glucosamine is only part of the picture. To get an arthritic pet healthier overall, it requires attention to both diet and exercise as well.