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Dog Hips & Joints

The problem

By the age of 8, Lexie, a lab mix, had lost some spring in her step. She had always been an active dog, but recently, her Pet Parent noticed that she was slow in climbing the stairs and was moving a bit more stiffly, especially in the morning. After a visit to the veterinarian, Lexie was diagnosed with mild osteoarthritis.

“As dogs age, cartilage can decrease resulting in joint inflammation, stiffness and achiness,” says Dr. Robyn Jaynes, PetSmart veterinary expert.

The symptoms

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint and musculoskeletal disease in dogs and usually occurs at ages 7 and older. Symptoms include stiffness and limitations in motion especially when it’s cold or damp and after lying down for long periods. Certain breeds as well as athletic, working and overweight dogs are more susceptible to osteoarthritis.

The solution

Studies have shown that premium pet foods rich in certain fatty acids and Glucosamine and Chondroitin can reduce joint inflammation as well as damage caused by osteoarthritis.

“Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) are found in fish oils and may help reduce the inflammation due to joint damage,” says Mark Finke, Ph.D. and pet nutritionist.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are natural substances that help repair cartilage. They can be found naturally in high-quality proteins including chicken meal, fish meal and lamb meal. You can also find foods specially formulated for hip and joint health with added levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Ask a PetSmart associate for recommendations on our best foods.


Large- and giant-breed puppies like Great Danes and Mastiffs can be especially susceptible to hip and joint problems. Data has shown that nutrition for large- and giant-breed puppies is one of the most important factors for healthy bone development after genetics. Large- and giant-breed puppies should be fed puppy foods formulated to have the recommended allowances of nutrients and energy to help them grow at an average rate and keep them healthy. Feeding for maximum growth can increase the risk of hip and joint stress as well as skeletal deformities and actually decrease lifespan. To ensure your large- or giant-breed puppy is growing and gaining weight at an appropriate rate, consult your vet.

If your pet is overweight and experiencing joint or hip discomfort, consult your veterinarian and ask about switching to a reduced-calorie premium food. Also inquire about supplements that can help control clinical symptoms of osteoarthritis.

The information used in this report is approved by PetSmart nutritionists and vet experts.

Information from “Small Animal Clinical Nutrition,” 4th Edition, Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush, Copyright 2000 by Mark Morris Institute was used in this report.

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