Ever notice how there's so much focus on providing sick-care rather than health care? I provide my clients with both because sick dogs certainly need to be helped, but healthy ones need to be protected as best possible. Diet goes a long way in this regard, but so do regular vet visits (once yearly check-up for dogs that aren't yet seniors, and twice yearly for those 7+ years old), which then brings me to three specific things I want to mention.
1) Two years ago I wrote about the vitamin D status in dogs, but various publications are bringing this forward again, so let's go over the facts. Unlike other species, dog serum vitamin D concentration is not influenced by ultraviolet light exposure because their skin doesn't convert it into vitamin D3. (reference: Gen Comp Endocrinol 1994;96:12-18) The bottom line is that dogs rely on a dietary source of vitamin D. You would think that feeding foods high in vitamin D content would do the trick, and in many cases it does, but then there are the other ones. I've known dogs with heart disease, cancer, and arthritis that were deficient in vitamin D. A simple blood test shows this. Since you're taking your dog for a check-up anyway, speaking to your vet about running this test can make for an interesting conversation. The "cure" is as easy as feeding a supplement, and my own preference is wild salmon oil because it also adds omega 3 fatty acids. You need to know the vitamin D content of the brand you choose though.
2) Dogs with gastrointestinal trouble, especially those with diarrhea connected to a bacterial overgrowth, IBD, or inflammation (sometimes due to allergies) can be low in vitamin B12. You might be amazed at how much vitamin B12 injections can help these dogs. The issue here is that you want to get the vitamin into circulation which is why simply giving an oral supplement to a dog with a compromised gut isn't likely to work nearly as well. By bypassing the gut and putting that vitamin to work directly and right away, magic can happen. So, don't say no to your vet when s/he suggests this. It's common to give the injections and it's not forever. Normally, vitamin B12 circulates in the body for about one month. When there's an insufficient amount of it in the bloodstream, injections are often once weekly for 4-6 weeks followed by another blood test to see status. Most dogs have good circulating levels by then, so the injections are reduced to every other week, and weaning away totally as the test results show improvement. Diet is critical, but not having enough B12 in the system can make any diet problematic, so this needs to be a package deal of vet care and dietary manipulation.
3) Although we seem to accept that arthritis happens in older dogs, changes can happen in younger ones as well. This past year brought many clients with dogs suffering from arthritis, and many weren't even 7 years old. There are so many supplements, herbs, articles, books, et al that people seem to latch on to any bit of hope promised and end up loading their dogs with a myriad of products. I'm not a big believer in "just in case" protocols. Much preferred are things that have been proven time and time again by the dogs I've worked with over these past 20 years. The road to success is actually simple, and successful.
a) Anti-inflammatory diet (home prepared) with plenty of veggies if tolerated, including phytonutrients provided in several ways including herbs, and specific to the dog in question
b) Joint Complex
c) Green lipid mussel (not needed for every dog when Joint Complex is used)
d) Maintain healthy body weight with an eye to muscle strength
Something to get you started on the info above:
People who have used our Joint Complex know that a bottle contained 80 caplets. I'm thrilled to let you know that the price has remained the same, but there are now 150 caplets per bottle. Packaging change was unexpected to say the least, and we jumped on this one because the price was remarkable. Take advantage of the savings!
"In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.” ~ W.H. Auden