Joint Pain in Dogs
Dogs with joint pain suffer just like we do. However they cannot complain as easily or clearly about it! As a result, being aware of arthritis as your dog ages may help you to recognise the symptoms and provide some relief. There are many different medications and treatments available for arthritis in dogs. Some of these will be prescribed by your Vet whilst others are readily available from your local pet shop without prescription. No matter where you get your supplements from, they will undoubtedly contain a range of ingredients. Many of these will have very long and confusing names. So which brand do you go for? What should you look for in a joint supplement for your dog? Note: for the purposes of this article, when I refer to arthritis, I am referring to osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis in pets.
Buzz Words for relieving joint aches and pains
No matter which product you go for, some or all of the following key words will most likely be listed in the ingredients:
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Collagen Matrix
- Green Lipped Mussel
- Salmon oil
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E 500
Joint products come in various forms. Granulated, powdered, liquid and tablets are the most common. Many foods also include joint supplementation. In particular, food for growing puppies and food for older, senior dogs. However as a rule of thumb, I have found that most dog food companies only put a small amount of joint supplementation into their dog foods. I believe that this is simply to keep the cost of the food down. Joint supplementation is not a cheap product. As a result, adding higher quantities to a food can push the price up.
Although higher levels are beneficial, they are not necessarily needed by all dogs. So by keeping levels relatively low, all dogs will get a beneficial effect from the addition of joint support. However it is worth noting though that some dogs will need more that this ‘maintenance’ dose when their joints get worse with age or injury.
Prevention is better than cure
Dogs can develop joint pain at any age. More commonly it is as they age and approach their senior years. However I have had customers in the shop buying joint products to give to their young dog, sometimes only a year or 2 old. This can be down to injury or genetics amongst other things. With this in mind, I have chosen to give my dogs joint supplementation from a young age.
A small, maintenance dose of a joint supplement once a day mixed with their food. I know I can’t stop joint deterioration but I believe I can slow it down. In doing so I am keeping their joints as healthy as they can be, for as long as possible. When arthritis does finally set-in, I can increase the dose to a treatment amount to provide further relief. Just like humans, the more generally active dogs are, the longer they’re likely to stay fit and healthy as they age.
So which ingredients do what when it comes to joint support?
This plays an important part in making glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins. These are the building blocks of your joints. They form the basis of surrounding ligaments, tendons, cartilage and synovial fluid.
A vital part of cartilage. Cartilage covers the surface of the joint and acts like a shock absorber. It also allows the joint to slide easily over it’s opposing surface. Chondroitin not only slows down cartilage deterioration but it can help damaged cartilage to repair.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. An anti-inflammatory is something that reduces swelling or inflammation. Arthritis is inflammation of your dog’s joints. An anti-oxidant is something that prevents or slows down damage to cells cause by free radicals. Joint cells are not immune to this deterioration. Free radicals are a natural by-product of digesting food amongst other things so they are pretty hard to avoid!
This is a natural part of the fluid that helps cushion your joints, the Synovial fluid. It also helps in the growth and development of a joint’s cartilage and bone. The gradual loss of the viscosity and elasticity of Synovial fluid is one of the causes of arthritis.
There are 2 separate things but when they come together they have super powers! Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric. Turmeric is the yellowy/orange powder often used in Asian cooking. Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper. In isolation they have an amount of beneficial effect. However when they are combined, the synergistic effect for your dog’s joint pain is so much more then the sum of the individual ingredients. As a result you’ll often see these ingredients listed together. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and strong anti-oxidant. The problem with curcumin though is that it is not absorbed very well by the body. Step forward Piperine! Piperine enhances the absorption of curcumin by as much as 2000%! That’s why it so important for them to play together.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is very important. As a result it is found in muscles, bones, tendons and skin, it literally holds the body together. It’s function is to help tissues withstand stretching. It’s main function from a joint point of view is to help maintain cartilage. Remember, cartilage sits over the ends of your bones where there is a joint to provide a cushioning effect.
Green Lipped Mussel (GLM)
This is another ‘super ingredient’! GLM has numerous benefits in supporting dogs with arthritis. It is a natural source of Chondroitin and Glucosamine and is a potent anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, GLM contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does it contain EPA and DHA which are commonly found in fish oils, it contains a sneaky third Omega 3 fatty acid called ETA! The ETA fatty acid lowers the production of something called cyclooxygenase. This an enzyme which causes inflammation and as you are learning, reducing inflammation is a big part of managing arthritis. Other benefits of GLM are vitamins C and E. As well as antioxidants and minerals such copper, zinc, and selenium. These are all vital to your pet’s joint health.
High levels of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been shown to decrease inflammation linked with arthritis in dogs. Salmon oil is an excellent source of these. It is worth noting that dogs cannot metabolise flaxseed, linseed or canola oil. Although they contain Omega-3, it is in the form of ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid). ALA is not absorbed well enough to be effective in helping joint pain in dogs.
A powerful anti-oxidant (something that prevents or slows down damage to cells). Moreover it actually helps the body to make collagen. Remember, the most abundant protein in the body, it pretty much hold us all together!
Vitamin E 500
Another powerful anti-oxidant! Also important for cell function and fat metabolism.
A trace element, only needed in small amounts. Amongst other things, manganese plays a role in the formation of your dog’s skeleton. In addition it helps to develop and maintain ligaments, a key part of any joint structure.
Figuring out which supplement is best for you dog to treat their joint pain can be confusing. I hope this article has helped your understanding of the topic to allow you to make a more informed decision. This article is in no way all-encompassing and must not be used in place of Veterinary advice. Dogs can have joint pain for a number of reasons, not just arthritis. It is merely a general overview based on years of experience on the shop floor. Don’t forget that you can help your dog’s joints without spending a penny! Keep their bodyweight where it should be. Overweight dogs have extra pressure on their joints. They are therefore more likely to develop arthritis sooner.
Do you have an older dog or an overweight dog? Are you thinking of changing their diet? Have a look at our Teepee Senior dog food. Part of a Senior diet is reduced fat levels. As a result a Senior diet can be helpful for weight loss: https://www.thepetexperience.co.uk/product/teepee-senior-dog-food/
To learn more about arthritis in dogs click here: https://caninearthritis.org/article/arthritis-the-basics/