Dog Lifestyle

5 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Dogs

If you, like me, have a dog that is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation, you know that you will do anything to help your pet out.

Two small dogs eating out of white bowls one eating berries.

As we discuss, in our article, Three Tips for Managing Pet Arthritis Recommended by Vets (Expert knowledge to manage pet pain) although dog arthritis or cat arthritis may occur at any time it is much more common in the later years of your pet’s life. However, your dog’s diet and the foods you choose for your dog can support their health needs including combating inflammation. Read on to learn how!

Inflammation in Dogs

Arthritis is directly linked to inflammation, especially in pets and according to the Cleveland Clinic, arthritis usually involves inflammation or degeneration (breakdown) of your joints. Arthritis is a disease that affects your joints (areas where your bones meet and move.)  These changes can cause pain when you use the joint.

Blonde lab dog sitting on a vet table at the vet.
Labradors often have arthritis and inflammation.

But . . . back to inflammation. In a recent article in Harvard Health Publishing Dr.’s described inflammation as where your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers inflammation and an elevated white blood cells.

Many major diseases and medical conditions that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation and those same diseases may be prevalent in our dogs as well and also result from inflammation.

The Dr.’s go on to say that one of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store in the form of an “anti-inflammatory diet.” Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

As pet lovers we have access to a world of functional foods, functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.

Computer screen and stethoscope with the words functional foods and a saying under the picture talking about pet owners access to functional foods.

Either way, chronic inflammation is difficult for any pet along with any pet lover, and a dog’s diet may actually play more of an important role than we would otherwise consider. Several foods and supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and when provided in the right amounts may support our canine companion with inflammation.

Five Best Anti Inflammatory Foods for Dogs

1)   Fatty Fish for Dogs

Dogs that suffer from chronic inflammation may benefit from dog food with high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the omega-3 fatty acids that have shown to have success in decreasing joint inflammation. EPA is naturally found in fish oil and fish itself. Sardines, salmon and other fish are all high in EPA (see our article on can I feed my dog sardines for more information.)

2) Turmeric for Dogs

Turmeric is consistently used by people to reduce inflammation and joint pain. However, as we discuss in our article The Top 6 Turmeric for Dogs Benefits: The Spice You Didn’t Know Could Help Your Dog giving your pet turmeric may be a very difficult way for pet owners to reduce inflammation even though turmeric has shown promise in treating a multitude of health ailments including diabetes, arthritis and even cancer, and as a preventative part of wellness.

A dog may need up to 2-4 tsps a day of Turmeric which for me seems like a lot.

However, as we describe in our article on the Top 6 Turmeric Dog Benefits you can increase the bioavailability of turmeric so it can be one of the best options for reducing inflammation in dogs.  One way of increasing the bioavailability of turmeric for reducing inflammation is by preparing a solution by combining your turmeric paste for dogs with black pepper or look for turmeric that has been processed to increase bioavailability in a liposome encapsulation and the use of nanoparticles (like we did with the CBD in Calm and Relieve Plus CBD Hemp Sprays).  

Turmeric is a serious inflammation fighter and very helpful for arthritic dogs so it may be worth looking for these more bioavailable options.

Picture of turmeric root, powder and sliced root on a flat lay black background.
Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory for dogs

3) CBD for Dogs.

We know very well at this point that CBD is a serious inflammation fighter and that research along with significant anecdotal evidence is why we see it in everything from gummies to tea to skincare products.

CBD from hemp is a cannabinoid derived from the hemp plant.

CBD is known to have many beneficial attributes for dogs (see article on Benefits of CBD for Dogs..) CBD can be added to treats, food, like our CBD dog bone broth and applied topically to reduce inflammation.

CBD has become a serious well researched (See latest research here) alternative to many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and also known to reduce inflammatory response.

4) Chondroitin Sulfate for Dogs.

Chondroitin Sulfate is another natural anti-inflammatory known for its ability to reduce inflammation of the joints and fend off acute inflammation. According to Arthritis Health, Chondroitin is a naturally occurring molecule that makes up a large part of cartilage. Chondroitin is derived from a natural compound that helps maintain the health of the tissue by absorbing water, blocking certain enzymes that break down cartilage, and providing the building blocks for the production of new cartilage.

Though results are ultimately inconclusive, many studies and anecdotal evidence from pet lovers suggest that supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, a disease characterized by the break down of cartilage in the joints a cause of arthritis.

5) Berries for Dogs.

My dogs love blueberries. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries which are all great anti-inflammatory foods. Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. According to Healthline, these compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of various diseases and oxidative stress a precursor to inflammation by reducing free radicals along with being packed with vitamins and minerals.

Golden retriever sitting in front of a bowl of berries on the floor.

Although we have focused on what to give our pets as pet parents we also need to consider what not to give our pets. Our dog’s diet, like our own should be as clean and healthy diet as possible.

Taking stock of what is in our dog’s diet and making necessary dietary upgrades can also come in the form of removing items from your pet’s diet which can exacerbate inflammation caused by dog arthritis. For pets with arthritis symptoms, commercial pet foods may be an issue for what they do contain not for what they do not contain.

Processed Dog Foods and Inflammation

Overly processed commercial pet foods are convenient but many processed commercial dog foods contain grains such as wheat, rice, soy, and spelt, which can cause your dog’s blood sugar levels to fluctuate and increase painful swelling and inflammation due to their immune response. 

Healthy Weight Management and Healthy Dog

Dietary changes also should be directed at the correct dog weight to avoid health issues. Work with your veterinarian (or Holistic Veterinarian) to ensure that your dog is at its optimal body weight a healthy weight for his breed and size. Just like in people, excessive weight has additional side effects as it puts additional and avoidable strain on already painful joints which will likely lead to chronic pain, a common problem in senior dogs.

Have you been able to improve the quality of life for your dog and increase your dogs health?  Send us a DM on IG @popularpetpals so that we can feature your idea. 

You may also like our article on the Benefits of Yucca  and The Benefits of MSM,  other amazing dog inflammation fighters that are in our Relieve Plus CBD from Hemp Spray.

Curious what it takes to be a Pet Food Taster and How Dog Food gets its flavor check out our article on Being a Professional Pet Food Taster

Inflammatory Foods for Dogs FAQ

How do I reduce inflammation in my dog?

You can do many things to reduce inflammation in your dog including feeding a healthy clean diet without processed foods that are inflammatory and give your dog inflammation fighting supplements like Relieve Plus CBD Hemp spray, Turmeric, MSM, or inflammation fighting foods like Sardines and Berries.

What causes inflammation in dogs?

Inflammation in dogs as in people can be caused by many health issues such as infections, allergies, hormonal disorders, immune-mediated diseases, tumors or cancers, or dog arthritis and poor quality food and processed foods and environmental contaminants, most commonly lawn pesticides.

Can dairy cause inflammation in dogs?

Alpha-s1 casein is a major protein in cow milk and it is inflammatory in all mammals above two years old. It is one of the many proteins that can cause your dog to have an allergic response and inflammation. Goat milk contains low amounts of this protein, so it may be less likely to cause adverse effects. Kefir a dairy product may be beneficial to dogs despite Alpha-s1 casein protein since it is fermented and contributes to a healthy stomach biome.