How can I help with chihuahua arthritis? A case study.
A question came into the office about how to help a chi chi who is struggling with arthritis and was it Ok to feed a salmon oil supplement.
Question: I’ve got a 9 yr old and a 3 yr old Chihuahua rat terrier and chi jack russell. We’ve battled an overweight problem with my 9yr old. I know it’s the extra weight on her but she’s struggling with her weight and she’s got arthritis. I’ve recently added salmon oil to her dry food. Only in the mornings I feed them about 1/4 cup of food and about 1tsp drizzle of the salmon oil over her food. My question is is that ok to feed her this. Is the salmon oil safe? It does seem to have helped her.
Chihuahua arthritis is a common problem so I thought I would answer it as a case study for everyone to read.
Answer: I’m sorry your chi chi is struggling with arthritis. What a shame for her.
Yes, it is a good idea to give her a good quality fish oil as this will certainly help. But you can go much further using food as medicine.
Your chi is not old as they can live to be 20, but in her current condition she is looking at spending her senior years in pain, which is a shame.
If she was my dog this is what I would do:
Getting her weight down is essential, as this is putting his joints, spine, and internal organs under pressure. Being overweight takes around 4 years of a dog’s life.
First you need to establish what is correct weight should be and feed her around 3% of this. This is his total daily food allowance. Everything you feed comes out of this total.
For example, if your chihuahua’s correct weight is 6lb or 2.7 kgs then the daily food intake should be about 81 grams a day in total.
Dry food is causing chronic illness in dogs
Move away from dry or processed food if this is what you are feeding her as it’s the carbohydrates and starch in this food that will be contributing to the extra weight. Dogs have zero need for carbs and should get most of their food from healthy fats and protein in the form of fresh meat, eggs, organ meat, fish, and oily fish with low GI veg.
Dry food is also very low protein and made from poor-quality cheap ingredients. The cooking methods used kill any natural fats and minerals. Factory produced vitamins and minerals are added at the end of the process.
Dry food and poor-quality diets are one of the main reasons dogs become ill, they cause inflammation and inflammation is the root cause of most chronic illness. Certainly, arthritis will fall into this bracket.
Feed a fresh diet
Start to feed her a fresh diet, either a good quality raw food or a cooked food that has not been ultra-processed. You could look at home cooking and this is a good option but there will be some supplements that you must add in, like calcium and taurine. These are available online.
If you decide on raw, and this would be best, you can mix raw and cooked food, like chicken for treats and training. (Some people believe you can’t, but this is not correct)
Change her diet slowly, to give the gut a chance to adapt to a higher protein offering. You may need to swap over gradually around 10-20% a day. You can help this process by adding a good quality probiotic. Dr Mercola do a good one and we always have a pot in the house.
Mixing up the food
Work out how much food she needs a day and add into this total a lightly fried egg cooked in coconut oil keep the yolk soft. (You can feed a raw egg, I prefer to lightly cook mine). Feed twice a week as part of her breakfast. Add a tablespoon of kefir daily as this helps the gut biome. You can also feed a half a small sardine that has been packed in spring water, I give my dogs this twice a week. (The bones are soft enough for your dog to eat)
These additions are included in their daily food allowance.
Turmeric for the inflammation
You can also add some turmeric, turmeric is a miracle cure for inflammation, you could mix this into the kefir. The dose is around ¼ tsp per 10Lbs of body weight. Feed daily.
What not to feed
Don’t feed any shop bought treats. Food is food to a dog; they don’t know if it’s a ‘Lily’s Kitchen cranberry sausage’ or a bit of chicken. Treats are full of rubbish and with a small dog like a chihuahua they don’t have room for the extra calories. If you want to take food out with you on a walk, just put some of their daily food allowance aside as chicken or boiled pork mince and use this.
Don’t feed lots of raw vegetables, Dogs do need some veggies in their diet, but they can’t easily digest big lumps of raw veggies and it can cause tummy ache.
Never feed your dog either a vegetarian or vegan diet as these are not species appropriate.
Don’t feed rice as this is also not species appropriate and can contain toxins that create inflammation.
Your chi needs exercise, but if she is in pain then keep it appropriate. Don’t overwalk her. Rather than take her out on long rambles play some games in the garden over the day.
Rest and healing
Also make sure she gets plenty of undisturbed rest so the parasympathetic nervous system gets a chance to help heal. A good nap in the day is essential.
Why fresh food is best
Fresh food is as essential for dogs as it is for people. It contains natural vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that are required to maintain a healthy gut biome. A strong balanced gut biome will defend your dog against illness and senior decline.
It is an error to believe that dry food or processed food is all we need to feed our dogs and this food is somehow ‘complete’. It is very far from nutritionally appropriate and contains some ingredients that harm our pets.
You can join us in Chihuahua School (opening soon) and we will be covering diet and nutrition in detail.
Hope this helps and let me know how you get on.