Prevent Joint Disease In Retrievers With Weight Management

Keep Retrievers at a Healthy Weight to Help Prevent Joint Disease

Training and working in the field for long periods of time can be demanding, even for well-conditioned retrievers. Did you know proper nutrition directly impacts a dog's performance? By keeping your retriever at a healthy weight, you help prevent joint disease so that your dog can give you his or her all.

When working, overweight retrievers can become susceptible to joint injuries, which worsen over time due to extreme wear on a dog’s joints during weight-bearing exercise. Eventually, a dog could develop osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, during which a dog’s joint cartilage progressively and permanently deteriorates. It can be severely painful and cause lameness.

Because degenerative joint disease is a long-term wear-and-tear condition, many dogs do not show signs until they are older. Abnormal gait, bunny hopping when running, thigh muscle atrophy, pain, low exercise tolerance, reluctance to climb stairs, and an audible click when walking are common signs.

To prevent degenerative joint disease and other joint or soft tissue injuries, it is crucial to keep your hardworking retriever at a healthy weight. Monitoring dogs for ideal body condition, described as having an hourglass shape, should begin with puppies. Dogs should have a body condition score of four or five using the nine-point Purina Body Condition Score System.

The importance of keeping dogs in a lean body condition was shown in the 14-year Purina Life Span Study, in which Purina scientists followed Labrador Retrievers through their entire lives, revealing that feeding these dogs to a lean or ideal body condition from puppyhood throughout life extended their healthy years by 1.8 years and significantly delayed the need for treatment of chronic conditions compared to the moderately overweight dogs in the control group.

Keep your retriever at a healthy weight by feeding a high-protein/ high-fat performance dog food year round, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula, and continuing to monitor your dog’s caloric intake and his or her body condition.

“Switching to a maintenance diet in the off-season is like metabolically detraining your dog,” says Purina Research Nutritionist Brian Zanghi, PhD. “Maintenance dog foods contain higher levels of carbohydrates, which decrease the metabolic capacity to use fat, ultimately resulting in reduced endurance. It is best to reduce the portion fed in the off-season and monitor a dog’s body condition to keep your retriever healthy and fit.”

The Purina Pro Plan SPORT portfolio was designed to provide your hardworking retriever with optimal nutrition. A complete and balanced formula, Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 can help your retriever stay properly conditioned and fuel him or her for high performance in the field. To learn more about the formulas, visit

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