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Feeding your dog a quality dog food has a lot of benefits, but when you have a dog that has a genetic background that makes them prone to joint and hip stress and pain, you need to consider addressing this with dog food of a specific formulation. Scout has researched some of the best dog foods for joint health at all life stages. Here are some of the things to look for when you are considering a quality joint formulation dog food and some options for your dog. For this reason, we recommend Acana Heritage Meats, which is the best overall kibble your money can by. All of the ingredients are USA-sourced from the top-quality Kentucky meats and there are no cheap fillers or unnecessary carbs.
If you want to learn more, check out our buyer’s guide on Acana dog food products.
Acana Heritage Meats Dog Food 4.5 Pounds
Ingredients & Joint Health
If your dog is suffering from joint issues, or you’re just trying to perform a little preventative maintenance, you should be avoiding fillers at all costs. Dog food that is high in grains makes it harder for dogs to maintain a healthy weight. Just like with our own diets, fillers can add a lot of calories and not much in the way of nutritional value. Cheaper brands use fillers so they can maximize profits. You then find yourself in the position of paying a lot of money for something that is mostly commodity corn.
Special Alert: Pesticide and Herbicide Residues
While it may cost more to buy holistic and organic dog foods, it can be well worth it just because you are avoiding some of the more heavily sprayed crops. Corn is one of the most common fillers and it is usually of the “Roundup Ready” variety. Personally, I try to avoid feeding my dogs anything that has been routinely treated with any product from Monsanto or similar companies. There is a lot of evidence that points towards some major health effects over time in people and animals. Why risk it with your dog?
The dog foods on our list are generally known to be free of harmful chemicals, but always make sure you read every label carefully before buying.
Avoderm combines chicken and rice in their large breed formula alongside glucosamine and chondroitin. Avocados and avocado oil help with healthy skin and coats. This tasty formulation contains no corn, wheat, or soy products.
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Dog parents can choose between lamb, salmon, or turkey flavors in this grain free adult dog food. Nulo does an excellent job of balancing out this dog food to promote healthy weight, skin, coat, and more. Nulo doesn’t use any egg or chicken products, which some dogs can have trouble with. If you are new to feeding grain free foods, then you will be surprised how far a bag goes.
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This high protein kibble is great for maintaining a healthy weight in older dogs. The balance of good fats and oils helps take the stress off of hips and joints. Natural DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin, add additional support. Freeze dried meat mixed in with kibble provides a reasonable alternative for when a raw diet is not an option.
Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain Free Chicken Meal Formula Natural Dry Dog Food by Nature’s Variety, 23.5 lb. Bag
This air-dried high protein food is an excellent choice for dog breeds that need a lot of protein. This is one of the more expensive options out there but you are getting dog food that is produced ethically on family farms. Since it is a dried meat based food you feed a lot less of it. One reviewer says a bag lasts her 20 lb Boston Terrier for 2 months but she is not clear on what size bag she is talking about. This food is used when a raw diet is not possible or convenient. For example, if you travel a lot with your dog, a bag of dried meat based dog food is going to be easier to manage and so much less weight. The high level of Omega 3 and other essential fatty acids help your dog move more smoothly. The high protein content means that it is easier to maintain a weight that is healthy and not putting too much stress on legs and joints.
Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel & Lamb Dog (5.5lb)
Chicken and brown rice are the main ingredients in this holistic food for large breed pooches. Added glucosamine and chondroitin contribute to healthy hips and joints. This formula offers a balanced calorie load while still being satisfying for your large breed dog at meal times. Another bonus is that there is no wheat, corn, or soy in this dog food.
Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food, Chicken & Rice, 30-Pound Bag
Turkey, chicken, and whitefish round out this grain free dog food. High levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids help with skin and coat. Blueberries, carrots, spinach, and more create a balanced meal for your dog while contributing to a healthy weight.
Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain Free 28 lb
Chicken, rice, salmon, lamb, and a big variety of fruits and vegetables make this dog food a complete solution for keeping dog joints and hips moving good. This is a very affordable dog food when you consider that there is no corn, wheat, or soy in the mix.
NUTRO ULTRA Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food 30 Pounds
Salmon and sweet potatoes are the major ingredients in this grain free dog food. Flaxseeds and vegetables are some other noteworthy ingredients. Rachel Ray pet foods have some high standards for quality. Salmon offers an abundance of healthy fats for dogs that need something extra to support daily movements and activities. This is a suitable food for dogs at any life stage as long as you follow feeding guidelines.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Dry Dog Food, Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe, Grain Free, 23 lbs
Holistic Select has created this formula just for Large and Giant Breed adult dogs. Prebiotics, probiotics, a larger kibble size, and choice selections of chicken. While there is some grain in this food, there is no wheat or artificial ingredients. Rice, oatmeal, and fish meal with a variety of fruits and vegetables make this a dog food you will be happy to feed your big lovable dog!
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Adult Recipe, 15-Pound Bag
Holistic Select makes an amazing puppy food for large and giant breed puppies. This food helps provide what is needed for balanced growth and good development of hips and joints. Antioxidant rich super foods and probiotics help you giant puppy digest their kibble better with less chance of stomach upset. When it comes to holistic large breed puppy foods this is one of the best values out there.
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Recipe, 30-Pound Bag
Blue Buffalo often sets the standard for grain free and holistic dog foods. Real deboned chicken is the main ingredient in this dog food. Glucosamine and chondroitin support joints. This food is well balanced with lots of lean protein and vitamins and minerals to promote a healthy weight.
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Unless your dog has medical issues that require a low-protein diet, the Acana brand is going to be your best bet in most circumstances. Since joint health and longevity is so closely linked to the quality of food you give your dog over their lifetime, we recommend starting with the Acana Heritage Meats line now and supplementing with a joint health supplement as your dog ages. Acana’s quality just can’t be beat.
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Readjusting as Your Dog Ages
Deciding on a dog food that supports joint health is an important choice but it is very important to remember that over a dog’s lifetime their needs may change. An older less active dog has different needs than a puppy. Less active dogs can have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight, so you may need to change formulas or the amount fed at some point. Even if your dog maintains a healthy weight, however, you can’t stop aging. At around 5-6 years of age, you should consider supplementing your dog’s feeding with a joint health supplement. We’d like to stress that this age range is just a ballpark figure, larger dogs tend to experience the effects of aging sooner, and giant breeds should be receiving focused joint support as soon as they’re out of puppyhood.