The typical canine rehabilitation patient with orthopedic disease may differ in its nutritional needs, with the assumption that most patients will be on a complete and balanced commercial dog food that is not enriched with agents for ameliorating their condition. For a significant number of rehabilitation patients, obesity is a major issue where hypocaloric diet plans are often implemented and are covered extensively elsewhere (VCNA Small Animal Practice May 2021).
The focus of this article will be implementation of physical activity or structured physical exercise protocols and how they might be used in combination with a typical hypocaloric diet plan, a diet low in calories. Considering the limited information regarding physical activity or structured exercise programs in dogs, a human comparative assessment of efficacy is fundamental as a baseline of information regarding typical interventions. In addition, many of these long-term rehabilitation cases typically exhibit osteoarthritis (OA) and as part of case management, there is a need to implement nutrient or nutraceutical intervention to either diminish the progression of OA or help with pain control measures, particularly for the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory intolerant patient.
Nutraceutical intervention comes in many forms from botanicals to nutritional enhancement; botanicals will be covered elsewhere in this issue. This overview of nutraceuticals will cover nonbotanical interventions including fish oil, glucosamine/chondroitin, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, undenatured collagen, green lipped mussel, and egg shell membrane supplementation.