Scientific Nutrition to Support Health Conditions in Dogs

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Belinda Stancombe

No one likes to see their beloved one unwell. Having a pet with health concerns, especially those suffering from chronic health conditions, can be stressful, and at times for some pet parents even leave them feeling completely helpless.

A healthy, well-balanced diet is an important starting point when it comes to any dog's health. Feeding your dog a diet designed to help prevent or support certain health conditions is something you can do everyday to optimise your pet's daily health.


How Can Nutrition Support Health Conditions in Dogs?

Science based pet foods are formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians with the backing of years of scientific research and trials. With advanced nutrient profiles, these diets are specifically formulated to support different life-stages, lifestyles and support certain health conditions.

Brands such as Advance, Royal Canin and Hills Science Diet offer a range of diets for pets predisposed to certain common health conditions such as skin allergies, sensitive stomachs or digestive issues, dental care, weight management and joint support. These diets have tailored nutrition, are fortified with specific ingredients and nutrients aimed to manage, support or improve the signs of these conditions, while optimising the pet's overall health and well-being.

Common Health Conditions

Sensitive Itchy Skin

Itchy skin is one of the most common health conditions reported by pet parents and treated by veterinarians. Dogs with itchy skin are often suffering from an underlying allergy, caused by common allergens such as fleas, environmental (pollen, plants, dust mites) or food. Unfortunately, allergies can not be cured only managed, with treatment aimed at decreasing itchiness and other clinical signs.

How Does Nutrition Help?

Skin support diets for dogs are specifically formulated with reduced allergen ingredients, while promoting skin health and soothing irritation. Diets such as Advance Sensitive Skin and Digestion, Royal Canin Dermacomfort and Hills Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach can be a helpful addition to an overall allergy management plan.

    Key Benefits:

  • Reduced allergen protein sources
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (including EPA and DHA) with proven anti-inflammatory effects
  • Antioxidants to boost immune function
  • Pre and Probiotics to aid healthy digestion

For dogs that suffer from severe allergies, a Veterinary Prescription Diet may be beneficial. It is best to check with your veterinarian which diet is most suitable to your pet.

Can Supplements Help?

Supplements such as PAW Coat, Skin and Nails, Vetalogica Omegaderm and Zamipet Coat, Skin and Nails are packed full of the same beneficial nutraceuticals to support a healthy and strong skin layer. These supplements can be given in combination with a Skin Support Diet or in addition to your dog's regular food.

Recommended Diets for Sensitive Itchy Skin

Shop All Sensitive Skin Diets

Sensitive Stomach and Digestion

Digestive issues are among the most common reasons that dogs are seen by the veterinarian. A pet with a sensitive stomach often has a digestive system that is easily upset, and may suffer from 'on and off' bouts of mild diarrhoea, gas, vomiting and general sensitivities. These episodes can be concerning for pet parents and make the affected dog downright miserable.

How Does Nutrition Help?

These pets often respond well to sensitive stomach diets such as Royal Canin Digestive Care, Advance Sensitive Skin and Stomach and Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach, which contain specially formulated ingredients to both support and improve digestive health.

    Key Benefits:

  • Highly digestible protein to reduce tummy upsets
  • Pre and probiotics to aid healthy digestion
  • Dietary fibres to help nourish gut bacteria
  • Antioxidants to boost immune function
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (including EPA and DHA) with proven anti-inflammatory effects

For dogs with severe digestive upsets, those who are suspected to have food allergies or those suffering from diagnosed gastrointestinal issues such as pancreatitis or liver disease, a Veterinary Prescription Diet may be recommended. It is best to check with your veterinarian for the most appropriate diet for dog's health condition.

Can Supplements Help?

Digestive supplements such as pre and probiotics contain 'good' bacteria known to be beneficial for gut health. These healthy bacteria help fight infection, strengthen the immune system, digest food, and produce nutrients for absorption. Supplements such as PAW Digesticare, Pro Plan Fortiflora and EAC Animal Care In-side Out can be fed in combination with a Sensitive Stomach Diet or added to your dog's regular food.

Recommended Diets for Sensitive Stomachs

Shop All Sensitive Stomach Food for Dogs

Weight Management

Studies have shown that 41% of pet dogs in Australia are overweight or obese, with 90% of pet owners completely unaware. While having a chubby pet may seem cute or even funny, obesity is no laughing matter. Being overweight can predispose our pets (and us!) to serious health issues including diabetes, arthritis, liver and pancreatic disease and heart issues.

How does nutrition help?

Just like for humans, diet is the first consideration when looking to manage weight in pets. Commercially prepared weight management diets such as Royal Canin Light Weight Care, Advance Healthy Weight and Eukanuba Weight Control are formulated to encourage weight loss and limit long term weight gain.

    Key Benefits:

  • Lower calories and fat to encourage weight loss and limit weight gain
  • Dietary fibres to leave pets feeling fuller for longer
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin to support joint health
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (including EPA and DHA) for proven anti-inflammatory effects
  • Antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E to help to boost the immune system

For dogs diagnosed as obese, a Veterinary Prescription Diet may be recommended. It is best to check with your veterinarian as to which diet is suitable for your dog.

Recommended Diets for Weight Management

Shop All Weight Management Dog Food Diets

Dental Care

Many pet parents might be surprised to learn that around 80% of dogs over the age of three years have some degree of dental disease. The presence of plaque and gingivitis on the teeth not only leads to bad breath and painful gums, but chronic inflammation can have serious health consequences for pets including damage to the heart, kidneys and liver.

How does nutrition help?

Dental care diets for dogs are formulated with specifically shaped kibble that mechanically grinds on the tooth surface to remove plaque build up, while the addition of sodium polyphosphate works by binding calcium in the saliva thereby reducing plaque formation.

In some cases, a Veterinary Prescription Dental Diet may be recommended. It is best to check with your veterinarian as to which diet is most suitable for your pet.

Recommended Diets for Dental Care

Shop All Dental Care Dog Food Diets

Joint Support

Arthritis and joint issues are one of the most common conditions of older pets. Not only do joint issues affect a pet's mobility and lifestyle but these conditions often progress over time, causing significant pain and can negatively impact on a pets quality of life.

How does nutrition help?

Joint support diets contain a number of beneficial nutrients which are known to help reduce inflammation and support joint health at therapeutic levels, while also delivering nutrition that is easily digestible, to help maintain your pet's optimal health and body condition.

    Key Benefits:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks of cartilage
  • Omega 3 fatty acids for natural anti-inflammatory properties
  • L-carnitine to maintain lean muscle mass
  • Calcium for healthy, strong bones
  • Antioxidants to boost the immune system

In some cases, a Veterinary prescription diet may be beneficial. It is best to check with your veterinarian as to which diet is best for your pet.

Can Supplements Help?

Joint supplements such as PAW Blackmores Osteocare, 4 Cyte and Glyde contain beneficial nutrients to support joint health. These supplements can be helpful in protecting joints in younger dogs, for older dogs suffering from joint issues or as a recovery aid after joint surgery (knee and hip). Joint supplements can be used in combination with a joint support diet or in addition to your dog's regular diet.

Recommended Diets for Joint Care

Shop All Joint Care Dog Diets

Further Reading

Premium pet food: Is it worth it?

New puppy guide

The scoop on your dog's poop

Boredom busters for dogs

Your guide to fleas, ticks and worms

Shop All Dog Products