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How Your Pup’s Diet Can Help Treat Hip Dysplasia

By Ollie
September 15, 2017 • 2 min. read
Dog with a friendly smile

Reviewed for accuracy on April 11, 2022 by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

Hip dysplasia is a condition that can be rather painful for pups, and just as hurtful for pet parents to watch. It occurs when a dog’s hip joint is malformed, either through environmental causes or genetics, so it rubs and grinds instead of sliding smoothly. Puppies will start showing symptoms like difficulty rising or reluctance to jump. Larger breeds such as Mastiffs and Labrador Retrievers are particularly prone to hip dysplasia due to the extra weight placed on their bones and joints. Insufficient exercise, poor nutrition, and over-supplementation can worsen the condition, according to Dr. Judy Morgan, a New Jersey-based veterinarian. We asked her what type of diet could help reduce the risk of the ailment and alleviate symptoms. Here are her recommendations.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Dr. Morgan is a fan of omega-3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the hips. Omega-3s naturally occur in fish oil and flaxseed oil, which can be given to puppies as a supplement or included in their diet. These fatty acids also lubricate joints, reducing the risk of painful grinding of the joints. Solid foods that are high in omega-3s include salmon and chia seeds.

Calcium

Foods high in calcium, like yogurt, also help strengthen bones and prevent further damage to joints, provided your dog isn’t lactose intolerant. Adding more calcium into adult dogs’ diets can alleviate discomfort and also reduce the risk of arthritis, which can accompany hip dysplasia as they age. Pet parents should be careful to monitor calcium intake in puppies, since high consumption can lead to overgrowth. If you have a puppy, your veterinarian will help you keep a close watch on your puppy’s calcium intake and recommend an appropriate puppy diet.

Iron and Vitamin C

A common autoimmune response to canine hip dysplasia is anemia, but a diet high in iron can help combat this condition. Meats like beef and chicken are naturally high in iron, and leafy greens contain the mineral, too. Greens like kale and spinach also have a high vitamin C content, which is great for rebuilding connective tissues that can be broken down by dysplasia.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Dr. Morgan suggests incorporating ingredients like bone broth, cartilage, and even ground bone to add a supply of glucosamine and chondroitin, which help to strengthen and rebuild cartilage. “I love adding New Zealand deer antler velvet and green-lipped mussels, as these provide superb joint support,” she says.

Portion Control

Aside from incorporating these ingredients into your dog’s diet, it’s important to feed your dog an amount that’s suitable for their size. Overfeeding during the puppy phases can also place your pup at a higher risk of hip dysplasia. “Calorie and carbohydrate consumption should be controlled to keep body mass lean and to slow growth,” says Dr. Morgan. If your pup has already been diagnosed and is also currently overweight, helping him lose those pounds will help ease any discomfort and pressure placed on his hip joints.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical diagnosis, condition, or treatment options.

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.