Feeding your pet to mobility
Most of my biomechanics patients come to me because their owners want me to help their pets to improve their mobility. They come expecting osteopathy, acupuncture and perhaps a discussion of medication or supplements. However I usually also discuss diet with every owner. Having an understanding of how something as everyday and simple as what your pet eats can have a profound effect on their musculoskeletal system.
Talking about diet is not as simple as handing every owner a bag of food designed for joints. A diet discussion is an individual prescription for health and will vary for each patient and owner. Considerations when discussing diet include: pet preferences, owners ability to shop and prepare for food, pets ability to digest different foods and costs. With some pets we may just end up adding a few functional foods to existing diets, others it may be suggesting a less inflammatory commercial product. In some cases we may look to run a hair mineral analysis test which gives us a picture of minerals the body needs for function and repair.
First off a good diet is preventative. It is essential for proper growth and development of puppies and kittens. It’s much easier to put in a good foundation than trying to remediate a problem later in life.
Weight management is also another dietary aspect of musculoskeletal health that most people are familiar with. However, this isn’t about changing to a weight loss diet. Here are the ingredients in Hills R/D food designed for weight loss -
Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Soybean Meal, Soybean Mill Run, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Pork Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Caramel color, Pork Fat, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Iodized Salt, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Calcium Carbonate, minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors , Beta-Carotene
When I read this label I see a whole lot of inflammatory grain (corn), fillers with no nutritional value (powered cellulose), waste products from other industry (corn gluten meal, dried beet pulp, soy bean mill run, chicken by-product meal (does this include feathers as another filler?)), GMO ingredients (corn, soy, beets) + synthetic vitamins. Where is the nourishment? Whilst trying to reduce weight by feeding low nutritional fillers and GMO ingredients are we predisposing to chronic disease, inflammation and even cancer? I definitely recommend learning to read a pet food label.
In maintaining musculoskeletal health and feeding the body to be able to repair itself we need to supply ingredients with vitality and ‘qi’. In chinese food therapy feeding foods that nourish the blood will also promote health and repair of joints, ligaments and tendons. Blood nourishing foods include foods that are bloody (organ meats, red meat), oily (sardines, egg yolks) and colored (leafy greens, blueberries). However, these can also be difficult to digest foods. I would always introduce these functional foods very gradually. Some pets may also need digestive support in order to digest and benefit from the nutrients from these foods rather than having a lot of expensive poop. My Chinese medicine professor always said ‘ we aren’t what we eat, we are what we don’t excrete’. So a biomechanical appointment may end up a diet discussion in which we end up needing to address issues with digestion.