Your furry friends are the sincerest love-giving souls that you have in life, so you probably try to care for them in every possible way. But your dog started limping and doesn’t want to run as it used to do? Do you worry that something is seriously wrong?
While Google may bring up some life-threatening conditions as the cause of this behaviour, often the reason for this is osteoarthritis and similar joint conditions. While joint conditions are chronic and aren’t treatable, the pain and symptoms they cause can be effectively alleviated through proper therapy and the use of certain supplements. Here’s what you should know about canine joint problems and how to find an effective dog joint supplement that will help the recovery process.
Canine Joint Problems: DJD or Osteoarthritis
All canine joint problems can be divided into two categories following their origin. They can be either developmental or degenerative. The first ones are present from the onset and are often connected with the genetics of your dog. The second occur with time due to the constant, repetitive use of the joints which leads to degeneration of their lining tissue.
The most common disease in this category is the Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) which is just another name for arthritis or osteoarthritis. The most common factors that lead to this condition are age, injury, repetitive stress and disease. The articular cartilage of the joints in time, becomes less smooth and damaged and causes rubbing of the surface of the bones which leads to inflammation, decreased rang of motion, and development of bone spurs. The joints of your faithful friend become stiff, swelled and painful.
Watch for the Signs
Dogs are active creatures which enjoy running and playing around, so it’s nothing unusual if some of them continue with their daily activities in spite of the severe pain they might feel. To prevent further deterioration of their joints and spare them the unnecessary suffering, watch out for the following signs:
- Limping, stiffness, or difficulty getting up
- Irritability and behaviour changes
- Frequent slipping while moving
- Weight gain in spite of the loss of appetite
- Licking, chewing or biting the affected area
- Lethargy and depression
Dogs feel pain when petted or touched and it becomes difficult for them to urinate and defecate, so you might start having incidents at house. You can also notice loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine where the most commonly affected joints are.
What Is the Solution: Treatments for Joint Pain
If you notice any of the previous signs, the first and most important step will be to take your dog to a veterinarian who will make the right diagnose and recommend the therapy. Osteoarthritis as a degenerative disease which unfortunately, can’t be completely cured, but if caught early, it can be slowed down with the use of classical therapy, nutrition (diet and supplement usage) and exercise.
While it’s up to your vet to prescribe the suitable medications, you can decide to add to this therapy some dog joint care supplements. Here’s what you should know about these products.
The Active Ingredients of Dog Joint Supplements
When talking about osteoarthritis, it is interesting to say that joint support supplements for dogs have the same ingredients with the supplements made for humans. Of course, this is completely logical having in mind that the joint cartilage in both species has the same composition.
Supplements for dog joints reduce inflammation, improve the function and slow down the progression of the joint damage, and they usually contain these active ingredients:
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
First identified in 1876, glucosamine comes in the forms of glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, or N-acetylglucosamine. It is an amino sugar and improves the synthetic of glycosaminoglycans which are one of the building blocks of the cartilage.
Chondroitin, on the other hand, is a natural substance that can be either extracted from cow or pig cartilage, derived from shells of crabs, shrimps, and oysters or synthesised in laboratories from plant sources. It also stimulates cartilage repair and is often used in conjunction with glucosamine. Together they promote the healing process increasing the water retention in the cartilage which renews the joint cushioning.
Do They Work? – Yes, They Do!
As it often happens with supplements, there aren’t enough scientific studies that prove their efficiency, but the scientifically proven discovery that glucosamine sulfate offered pain relief superior or equal to “the commonly used analgesic or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” is by itself a strong and valid recommendation for vets and dog lovers. It is very well known that dog joint supplements have low and very rare adverse effects, so compared to NSAIDs, they are safe and proven help.
Green Lipped Mussel
This nutraceutical also listed as “Perna canniculus” on the supplement list is an extract full of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosaminoglycans, and antioxidants. These are all powerful anti-inflammatory agents which decrease the pain and preserve the function of the joints and can all be safely used long-term without any side effects.
GLM is found in New Zealand and there are multiple studies that prove its effectiveness in the fight against DJD. The recommended dose for best results is 77 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.
ASUs or Avocado and Soybean Unsaponifiables
These nutrients are second on the list of proven nutraceuticals that inhibit and reduce inflammation. This is practically shown in an experiment with a group of 16 dogs that had anterior cruciate injuries. Half of the group received placebo while the other eight got ASUs. The hystological analysis showed smoother recovery and less damage within the treated group.
Undenatured Type II Collagen (UC II)
This ingredient is collected from chicken sternums and serves as prevention for cartilage damage. Although sometimes available in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin, it is most effective when given separately, at different mealtimes.
And Some Other Supplements, As Well
Metylsulfonylmethane (MSM), hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, and curcumin, all these have their part in the healing process as anti-inflammatory agents and are next on the supplement list.
Manganese can also be an active ingredient of a good dog joint supplement since it is a part of the metabolism of many enzymes, protein and carbohydrates, and is also needed for the production of fatty acids. It plays an important role in the health maintenance of bones and cartilage, and as such, contributes to the healing process of the joints.
Scientific studies show that Boswellia reduces inflammation and is useful in the treatments of osteoarthritis, so it is another supplement for dog joints that you can add to your list.
So, Let’s Sum Up
The first step to help your faithful friend if you’ve noticed any signs of a potential joint problem, is to take it to the vet, and after that you can make all the necessary steps. All the questions about what (the substances), how much (the dosages), and how long (the period) will be answered in your vet’s office. Arm yourself with love and knowledge and help your dog enjoy many more active years on the playground.