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Healthy Mobility is a Sign of Good Health

By Maury Docton, DVM

The ability to move freely is an obvious sign of good health for dogs as well as for people. It’s so important that when veterinarians and scientists evaluate the quality of life in pets, mobility is a key function that is assessed. As pet owners, we want to help our pets maintain healthy mobility throughout their life.

For optimal mobility, a dog needs healthy bones and strong joints as well as lean muscles. Bones and joints depend on muscles for not just for motion, but also protection. Nutrition plays a key role in maintaining a lean body and strong muscles and promoting joint health to ensure a dog stays in good shape and enjoys an active life.

Nutrition Plays a Key Role in Maintaining Healthy Mobility

Feeding a complete and balanced diet is a first step for ensuring healthy mobility. Building and maintaining muscles, bones and joints uses the protein, fats, vitamins and minerals found in a healthy diet.

If we take a more specialized view, however, we can consider additional dietary nutrients and their functions:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to nourish joints
  • Omega fatty acids to support healthy joint tissues
  • L-carnitine to promote healthy fat metabolism

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are compounds found naturally in the dog as “building blocks” of a healthy joint. When included in the diet, they may be used for replenishing the nutrients used for joint maintenance.

Laboratory research has shown that compounds such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate help stimulate the generation of joint cartilage and help inhibit its breakdown. 2 In addition, they have been shown to have anti-inflammatory actions in cartilage cells.3

Omega fatty acids are specialized building blocks of fat. Prior to acquisition by P&G, The Iams Company conducted groundbreaking nutritional research showing the benefits of an optimal balance of omega fatty acids for healthy cells and body tissues. That research showed targeting a dietary ratio of 5 to 10 Omega-6s to 1 Omega-3s can result in increased production of less inflammatory compounds and decreased production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the dog’s body. 4

Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into cartilage cells. In this way, including Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet at a ratio of 5:1 to 10:1 supports healthy joint cartilage. Eukanuba contains omega-3 fatty acids from fish meal and fish oil and guarantees an optimal omega-6:3 fatty acid ratio, which helps minimize inflammatory compounds and supports joint health.

L-Carnitine can help maintain muscle at the expense of fat. It is a vitamin-like nutrient that works at the cellular level to increase the metabolism of fat. L-Carnitine attaches to fat molecules and escorts them into the mitochondria in the cells, where they are burned for energy. Studies have been conducted in both dogs and cats demonstrating that addition of L-Carnitine to the diet enhances weight loss and maintains lean body mass.5,6

L-carnitine has been clinically proven to help burn fat. Overweight dogs fed diets with 2 levels of L-carnitine lost significantly more weight (and body fat) over 7 weeks than those fed a control diet without added L-carnitine.

We know that excess weight puts strain on a dog’s joints. Less active, mature and spayed/neutered dogs tend toward overweight, which can increase the risk of associated joint conditions. Overweight also compounds existing joint concerns. Guaranteed levels of L-carnitine are found in Eukanuba Weight Control, Senior, Performance; Custom Care Weight Loss and Healthy Joints; and select breed-specific formulas.

Premium Nutrition Can Make a Difference in Maintaining Mobility

To put this all together and show how high-quality nutrition can help maintain healthy mobility, Eukanuba scientists perfomed a randomized, double-blinded, multi-centered study that included 200 healthy senior dogs (7+ years) monitored over 18 months. These dogs were fed either a diet (Eukanuba Senior matrix) with high-quality animal protein, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, an optimal fatty acid ratio, and L-carnitine, or a control senior diet formulated without these features. When veterinarians evaluated mobility in the study population, the dogs fed the Eukanuba Senior matrix diet had less reduction in mobility over the 18 months of the study than the dogs fed a control senior diet, who had a greater reduction in mobility. This difference in maintaining mobility was significant statistically as well as clinically. 7

P&G Pet Care was one of the first pet food companies to formulate diets to promote healthy mobility, starting with large breed puppy diets that promote optimal bone and joint development and continuing with large breed, senior, breed-specific and Custom Care diets for healthy mobility. We will continue to push the envelope of innovation in nutritional intervention that provides proven, measurable differences in the health and well-being of companion animals.

Remember

  • Animal-based protein sources, like those contained in Eukanuba and Iams pet foods, supply an optimal balance of the essential amino acids needed for healthy muscles and joints
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and omega fatty acids provide building blocks to nourish joint tissues
  • L-carnitine promotes healthy fat metabolism for lean muscles and optimal body condition

P&G Pet Care was one of the first pet food companies to formulate diets to promote healthy mobility.

Consider this... Protein is Critical for Healthy Mobility

Did you know that a major component of a dog’s joints and muscles is protein? To supply the protein for building and regenerating muscles and joints every day, the diet needs to contain the right amount and balance of amino acids.

Animal-based protein sources, like those contained in Eukanuba and Iams pet foods, supply an optimal balance of the essential amino acids needed for healthy muscles and joints. In fact, animal-based proteins, like chicken and lamb, have been clinically proven to maintain lean muscle mass in dogs.1 And with more than 70% of a dog’s body mass as muscle, maintaining muscle is critical for healthy mobility.

References

1 Davenport GM, J Vet Intern Med, 2001.
2 Lipielo et al. Canine Pract 1999; 24:18-19.
3 Grouze et al. FEBS Letters 2002; 510: 166-170.
4 Vaughn et al. Vet Derm 1994; 5: 163-173.
5 Sunvold GD, et.al. Proceedings of the XXIII World Small Animal Veterinary Association. 1998. 746.
6 Center, SA. Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition Volume II: 1998 Iams Nutritional Symposium Proceedings.
7 Tetrick MA, Iams Symposium Proceedings WSAVA, 2002.