Inflammation is a natural response of your dog’s body to injury, and it is usually helpful. However, sometimes it can cause more harm than good. For example, arthritis is one example in which the body’s natural inflammatory response is causing damage.
If your veterinarian has suggested that your pet is suffering from some form of chronic, low-grade inflammation, you may want to consider supporting prescribed medication with an anti-inflammatory diet.
There are several features of foods that may make them have an anti-inflammatory effect. One is their antioxidant levels, and another is the level of Omega 3 fatty acids they contain. Fiber that supports gut bacterial populations can also exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
There is no real research into what foods have an anti-inflammatory effect in dogs, but there are dietary guidelines that can reduce inflammation in people.
These foods are considered anti-inflammatory; introduce them into your dog’s home-based diet or choose branded food that includes them in their recipes.
- Sweet potatoes and butternut Squash
- Lean protein sources like chicken or fish.
- Fish oil, to increase the proportion of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish sources such as sardines and salmon
- Fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya can contain anti-oxidants and fiber.
Just as there are anti-inflammatory foods, there may also be foods that promote inflammation because they contain precursors to inflammatory chemicals that are produced in the body. Grains and Omega 6 fatty acids are considered to be pro-inflammatory; it may be worthwhile seeing if your dog responds to a grain free diet.
Keep in mind that changes to your dog’s diet should be made gradually; as a general rule of thumb, a change in diet should be done over the course of a week.
Other Ways to Reduce Inflammation
Excess weight may be associated with inflammation, so keep your dog lean. On the other hand, exercise can have the opposite effect and reduce inflammation. Whether or not this is clinically significant, your dog would benefit both physically and mentally from losing the extra pounds and going for a good long walk every day.
Finally, don’t ignore anti-inflammatory medications; these are time-tested and clinically proven to reduce inflammation.
The concept of an anti-inflammatory diet is very controversial. Supporters insist that it works, suggesting that there’s no harm in trying it for a few months at the very least. Opponents indicate that there’s little scientific evidence to support the claims made.
If your dog suffers from chronic inflammation, use a combination of treatments that include dietary changes, weight control, exercise and medication. This will give him the best chance of a comfortable life.