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How to Support Joint Health in Your Hunting Dog

Featuring Russ Kelley, M.S., Eukanuba and Royal Canin Pet Health and Nutrition Center

When thinking about the longevity of our hardworking sporting dogs in the fields and blinds, joint health is often a point of concern. They run hard in a variety of conditions, they jump over logs or stone walls, and they twist-and-turn their way through fields and covers. Those aggressive conditions can put a tremendous amount of stress on their joints.

Yellow Lab launches from stand into water on a waterfowl retrieve while hunter awaits

“What we ask our dogs to do is not easy,” said Russ Kelley, the Scientific Services Nutritionist at Eukanuba’s Pet Health and Nutrition Center. “Sporting dogs are exceptional in their ability to run, jump, twist, and they’re doing it on unlevel ground. After a day of hunting, I’m tired and sore; still, my level of exercise isn’t even close to how hard a sporting dog works. That’s why we look for ways to help fortify a dog’s different bodily systems through nutrition.”

Joints serve a variety of key roles: supporting weight, aiding movement and functioning as shock absorbers from jarring impacts. Next time your dog is working, take a moment to appreciate the impact each movement has on his shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, carpi, and the intervertebral joints of the spine. Over the course of an hour, day, week, and season, that impact to the joints is significant.

Joints are complex intersections. The ends of bones are covered by a smooth layer of joint (articular) cartilage. The cartilage, in conjunction with joint fluid, helps reduce friction and impact from hard landings. Then there are ligaments which connect bone to bone. Finally there are tendons located on each side of the joint to connect muscle to bones. Cartilage, joint fluid, ligaments, and tendons all work together to provide unhindered movement and rotation, and that’s why keeping joints healthy in sporting dogs is so important.

Two other key natural elements of joints are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced naturally by a dog’s body. It is a compound found in their joint cartilage and it stimulates the growth of cartilage cells. Chondroitin sulfate, also found in joint cartilage, helps promote water retention and elasticity.

While a dog’s body naturally produces both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, scientists for decades have studied the potential benefits of adding them to dog food. Some dog foods, like Eukanuba’s Premium Performance diets, include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support agile joints.

According to Kelley, “Sporting dogs need healthy, agile joints. I push my dogs in the field. Feeding a diet with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate gives me more confidence that I am promoting healthy joints in my dogs.”

Sporting dogs work tirelessly, and their unique nutritional needs continue to inspire scientists and researchers to look for ways to better support their health through nutrition. When it comes to supporting healthy, agile joints, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate provide a supporting role. And anything Eukanuba can do to help dogs perform at their full potential is high on our list of priorities.

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