Are Joint Supplements Good For Dogs?
The pet health food space is similar to that of us humans! What seems like thousands of products that promise the world, with no way of knowing what might be right, or whether they in fact really work! So lets break it down and talk facts! Are joint supplements good for your doggo, and is there any evidence to show that they actually work!? Well the short answer is yes BUT………It’s complicated!
Just like for us humans – you need to watch what you eat, or in this case what your doggo eats
The pet food space in Australia is a bit of a mine field! The industry has rules and regulations that are only voluntary for pet food manufacturers to abide by. As a result many of those hip and joint supplements in the market today are pitched as being miracle cures, when in fact if you read the fine print, they may be doing more harm than good.
Many supplements on the market are made with artificial fillers, binders and flavours. Which at first glance may appear to be great for your doggo – when in reality they could be more like feeding them fast food morning and night!
The only way to be sure that a supplement is going to work for your best bud is if you carefully read the ingredients and make sure you know what you are feeding them - and why! It’s always worthwhile looking to see if there is scientific evidence to back up the efficacy of any supplement.
Why to consider a joint supplement?
As dogs age (just like us) they are more prone to hip and joint problems. They may experience anything from mild stiffness, all the way through to more serious concerns like osteoarthritis.
Statistics show that 20% of dogs aged 1+ years and 80% of dogs aged 7+ years old suffer from arthritis (Prevalence, duration and risk factors for appendicular osteoarthritis in a UK dog population under primary veterinary care (nih.gov)). The American Kennel Club (AKC) (Osteoarthritis in Dogs — Signs and Treatment – American Kennel Club (akc.org)) categorises Osteoarthritis as ‘a progressively worsening inflammation of the joint caused by the deterioration of cartilage.’
On top of this a number of breeds that are also prone to things like hip dysplasia and rupturing ACL’s from what can be caused by very light physical activity like jumping off the couch!Your doggo may not yet be in their golden years, but one sure way to avoid running into any arthritic issues is to preempt them!
Supplementation is a great way to avoid running into (no pun intended) any nasty injuries or more serious concerns.
When to consider a joint supplement?
There are a number of signs that may suggest your dog may be experiencing pain associated with their joints or potentially some early onset signs of arthritis- in an article reviewed by veterinarians the Sydney Veterinary Specialists (Treating Arthritis in Dogs & Cats | Sydney Vet Specialists) identify the most common signs of arthritis as being:
• Difficulty rising
• Licking of joints
• Urinating indoors
• Muscle atrophy
• Tendency to sleep more
• Gain or loss of weight
• Tendency to sleep more
• Reluctance to jump
• Nervous or aggressive behaviour
• Vocalised pain if joint is touched or bumped
How to help your doggo overcome joint pain
The Australian Dog Lover (Dealing with Canine Arthritis & Joint Pain | Australian Dog Lover) outlines 9 useful ways to assist our best buddy’s with overcoming such pain.
• Diet & Nutrition
• Good Nail & Foot Care
• Swimming & Hydrotherapy
• Physical therapies – like a massage, or why not an at home spa day 😊
• Elevating your doggos food and water bowls
• A warm cosy bed
• Ramps to assist climbing – into beds and onto lounges
• Assisted living devices for those with more serious concerns
Diet and Nutrition is one of the easiest ways to help a struggling fur-friend and the good news is you don’t have to be an animal nutritionist to know what might be healthy for your pet- ingredients that work for humans can often be a good place to start!
What to look for in a joint supplement?
Several supplements on the market today make extraordinary claims around the benefits of things like Glucosamine and Chondroitin. But did you know that studies have shown that the benefits of these products are inconclusive?
In a study published by the Open Veterinary Journal (Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review (nih.gov)) it was found that there could be no clear line drawn between these products and a reduction in joint pain, inflammation or alleviation of osteoarthritic symptoms. So why are we spending thousands of dollars a year on these fancy new age supplements?
What we can be sure of is that wholesome ingredients and vitamins and minerals which have been studied over centuries and eaten by humans have scientific evidence to back up their benefits in reducing joint pain and stiffness. Things like:
Rosehip – has been scientifically proven to reduce the impacts of pain/inflammation and improve mobility as well as quality of life in sufferers of both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis (Rosehip | Uses, side-effects | Versus Arthritis)
Green Lipped Mussels – are best described by Veterinary Practice as (The value of the green-lipped mussel | Veterinary Practice (veterinary-practice.com)) sea water filters which retain a whole heap of beneficial vitamins and minerals from the sea off the coast of New Zealand – they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (EPAs, DHAs & ETAs), Vitamins C & E, Glutamine, Zinc, Copper and Selenium – all of which are profound in providing effective joint health and supportive mobility affects.
Turmeric (Curcumin) – scientific studies have shown that Curcumin which is found in Turmeric offers anti-inflammatory support for osteoarthritis treatment in dogs (1- 1. Colitti M, Gaspardo B, Della Pria A, et al. Transcriptome modification of white blood cells after dietary administration of curcumin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in osteoarthritic affected dogs. Vet Immunol Immunopathol 2012;147(3-4):136-146.)
Essential macrominerals such as magnesium- PetMD states that ‘The word “essential” in nutritional circles simply means that the body cannot manufacture it’ (What is Magnesium and Why is It Important? | PetMD) so it is up to us to supplement our buddies diet with things such as almond meal(which is rich in magnesium) or other whole food additions such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, spinach or oats!
Bone broth powder – which is rich in collagen and hyaluronic acid helps to lubricate joints and tendons ultimately reducing the symptoms of stiffness associated with arthritis (Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders:a review of the literature: Current Medical Research and Opinion: Vol 22, No 11 (tandfonline.com))
The results are in!
Don’t gamble with your best buddy’s health! Always go for tried and tested ingredients – if it sounds too good to be true – sadly, it probably is! Your doggo can’t look after their own joint health – it’s up to us to do the due diligence - we owe them that!
This article has been reviewed by a Vet.