- What Causes Osteoarthritis?
- What are the Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
- What Are The Symptoms of Joint Problems?
- Are Large and Giant Breeds More Prone to Joint Pain?
- How Can Pet Parents Promote Joint Health among Dogs?
- Do Joint Supplements Work?
- What are the Key Ingredients in Supplements for Dogs?
- What are the Side Effects of Dog Joint Supplements?
- What is the Correct Dosage of Joint Supplements for Dogs?
All dog parents know the importance of staying mobile and active throughout their life. It is quite easy for puppies and young dogs because they are naturally active and ready to play anytime. Walking and running promote healthy joints. This is very important because most senior dogs can suffer from joint pain - that's why many pet parents and veterinarians can suggest using a dog joint supplement to combat arthritis in dogs.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease or DJD happens when joints become progressively inflamed, due to the deterioration of cartilage. Cartilage acts like a cushion and allows joints to move freely and smoothly in a full range of motion. Most dogs have healthy joints for most of their life. This enables them to run, play, and jump freely!
But if they get osteoarthritis, the cartilage starts to break down and affects their hip and joint mobility. Sadly, losing this cartilage can lead to dogs suffering because it causes pain, inflammation, decreased mobility, and even the development of bone spurs. This condition mostly affects their limbs and lower spine.
What are the Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
It is hard to say when and why dogs will develop osteoarthritis. But there are a few risk factors that predispose dogs to this condition.
- Large breed dogs, like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Alaskan Malamute, etc.
- Overweight or obesity
- Old age
- Repetitive stress from physical activities like diving, swimming, flyball, frisbee games
- Injuries like fractures or ligament tears
- Elbow or hip dysplasia
- Infections that will affect dog's joints, like Lyme Disease
- Improper nutrition from a pet's diet
If your dog has one or more of these risk factors, you should stay in touch with the veterinarian for regular check-ups. They will ensure your dog maintains good health even as they age and even recommend the best joint supplements if your dog is starting to exhibit osteoarthritis.
What Are The Symptoms of Joint Problems?
Below are the common signs of osteoarthritis. It is typically difficult to detect in the early stages because dogs can still be active without showing they are in pain or discomfort.
The symptoms are not obvious until the joint is already badly damaged and your dog is in severe pain. So it is very important to monitor your dogs, especially senior dogs or those with risk factors, for early signs of arthritis.
Here are the common signs to watch out for:
- Sudden or unusual lethargy
- Stiffness, lameness, or difficulty getting up
- Weight gain
- Wincing when petted or touched
- Difficulty in positioning to urinate or defecate
- Accidentally bumping into things around the house
- Loss of muscle mass around the limbs and spine
If you observe one or more of these signs, make a call to your veterinarian. They should perform a full physical evaluation of your dog, especially to monitor their joints and range of motion. You may also need to do an X-ray of your dog's affected joints and this will help to rule out other health problems that can cause similar symptoms like those listed above. The X-ray results will also help your veterinarian evaluate the extent of joint damage so they can make an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Are Large and Giant Breeds More Prone to Joint Pain?
You might be concerned about having a large breed dog who is more prone to joint pains even before they age. Actually, it is recommended to monitor your large breed dog's joint functions even from the puppy stage. This is because large dogs grow rapidly. Their bones will grow too quickly but there is not enough time to reach optimal bone density, making the skeleton and joints weaker and unable to carry their growing weight.
Large breed dogs are also more prone to developmental joint diseases like elbow or hip dysplasia. This manifests through lameness, off-balance, and difficulty walking among puppies of large breeds.
If this is the case, you should consult with your veterinarian about your puppy's joint function so they can prescribe preventive treatment even before your dog ages.
How Can Pet Parents Promote Joint Health among Dogs?
Preventing joint issues goes hand in hand with your dog's overall well-being. This means proper nutrition, exercise, socializing, and resting.
Proper nutrition for a healthy dog includes high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and water. The effects of aging can be minimized by proper nutrition. The right food, vitamins, and supplements are essential building blocks of healthy aging among dogs just like humans. Overall, these have the same objectives to minimize the signs of growing older and to enhance your dog's quality of life.
By now, you should know that exercise and spending time outdoors are great for any pet. Veterinarians recommend at least 30 minutes of walking a day. It will also be beneficial if your dog gets to play with other dogs. Not only will they learn social skills, but their physical health is enhanced as this is added exercise for them.
Water and vitamins are also helpful for healthy joints, even among younger dogs aged four and below. These will keep them hydrated and healthy with the proper nutrients to stay healthy and active every day. Your veterinarian can also recommend the proper vitamins for your dog, but typically they should have a steady supply of multivitamins like Vitamin A and C.
Aside from vitamins, joint supplements for dogs are can also help with their joint health, overall well-being, and quality of life.
You might be wondering if joint supplements are effective or safe at all. But don't worry - we will tackle everything you need to know about dog joint supplements below.
Do Joint Supplements Work?
Yes, joint supplements work! They are approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as supplements, meaning they have passed countless tests for safety and efficacy. However, they should not be used as a replacement for drugs and medicines.
Joint supplements are a long-term and safe treatment recommended in veterinary medicine today. They are known to reduce inflammation and pain, improve joint functions, and slow the progression of joint damage and osteoarthritis.
Supplements can be enjoyed by many dogs because they can come in chewable tablets or soft chews! Joint care is important even before your dog starts developing osteoarthritis or experiences joint pain. A dog's life can be enhanced by taking vitamins and supplements to promote health and improve mobility. As they get older, they will suffer from hip and joint pain scores, weight management, or even problems with their immune system. Taking supplements that have passed quality control checks and contain key ingredients will surely go a long way for your dog's life.
Some of these key ingredients might be familiar to you. Typically, dog joint supplements contain joint supporting ingredients that are made from natural ingredients. This way, it is no cause for concern because you know the ingredients are naturally occurring compounds that your dog is accustomed to.
What are the Key Ingredients in Supplements for Dogs?
For joint supplements for dogs and humans as well, the typical ingredients are glucosamine, chondroitin, and even the green-lipped mussel (GLM). So be careful should your dog have a shellfish or mussel allergy because they could have a reaction to the joint supplements - but we will list down the possible side effects later.
You may be familiar with glucosamine and how it is a naturally occurring compound in our bodies that works to alleviate pain and stiffness. Glucosamine commonly helps to suppress inflammation in arthritic joints by inhibiting the degradation of cartilage and boosting the repairing process of damaged cartilage. It is clinically approved so you can use it as an early intervention to prevent osteoarthritis and even as treatment if your dog already has progressive joint damage.
Chondroitin sulfate is also a natural substance that stimulates cartilage repair. It is often paired with glucosamine for most effectivity. Chondroitin even helps reduce pain, improve joint function, increase mobility, and reduce the progression of arthritis. In joint supplements, chondroitin often comes from sources like fish, pigs, cattle, and birds.
Green Lipped Mussel
Lastly, there is an extract from green-lipped mussels that is a proven joint supplement ingredient that is effective for humans and dogs. Green-lipped mussels are native to New Zealand and contain beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and other vitamins that all have anti-inflammatory properties to protect joints. Combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, GLM helps decrease pain in a dog's body and preserve joint function for arthritic dogs.
GLM lives in a very nutrient-rich environment, growing in the deep and pure waters of the South Pacific Ocean. They feed on phytoplankton which is one of the world's richest and most natural sources of antioxidants. Now, GLM is in high demand for humans and thanks to research studies, we have discovered that it is also beneficial for pets. High quality joint supplements contain the whole mussel which contains complex proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, chondroitin sulfate, nucleic acids, and essential fatty acids like Omega-3. Using the whole mussel is far better than only using components of it - so make sure to get your hands on a joint supplement that utilizes whole green-lipped mussels.
If you are not familiar with these ingredients, you may be worried if they can really support joint health without any risks.
What are the Side Effects of Dog Joint Supplements?
Luckily, there are very few side effects observed from dogs taking most joint supplements, such as:
- Excessive thirst and urination at high doses only
- Shellfish allergy
Otherwise, these ingredients are clinically proven and alleviate discomfort among all dogs - especially older dogs and giant breeds.
What is the Correct Dosage of Joint Supplements for Dogs?
Before you start purchasing any joint supplements, we certainly recommend consulting with your veterinarian. They will accurately diagnose your dog's condition and determine the correct treatment and dosage for your dog. This step is very important because there are other factors that should be considered, such as genetics, prior health problems, injuries, or surgeries.
Generally, the available formulations of the best joint supplements are oral-flavored tablets, soft chews, pills, powders, or liquids that you can easily incorporate into your dog's food. Most dogs will love this because they are flavored and go well with the rest of your pet's diet. These supplements are easily available in pet supply stores, verified online shops, and of course any clinic for veterinary medicine.
Here are some tips before you start giving your dog any supplements:
- Look for the key ingredients. As we mentioned, the joint supplements should have a good dosage of glucosamine, chondroitin, and even GLM. But it is important to look at the other ingredients to make sure they are safe and high-quality: there should be no artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers, and all ingredients are safe and sustainably-sourced.
- Make sure the product has met manufacturing and product standards. Not all supplements are created the same. Always check if the product has been FDA accredited and meets full compliance with quality checks. This way, you are ensured of your dog's safety when they start taking the supplements.
- Check the dosage recommendation on the product label. Dosage is very important and depends mostly on your dog's weight. Supplements should be easily divided or portioned to meet this correct dosage for your dog.
- Look out for the taste and smell. Supplements should be like a treat, so observe if your dog enjoys it or not. It shouldn't be like a medicine that your dog wants to avoid.
Every pet parent wants to have a long and happy life with their dog. While aging is inevitable, it doesn't mean your pet should get sick or be in pain as dogs age. With the proper diet, exercise, vitamins, and joint supplements, you can help improve their quality of life even as they get older. They will also be happier as they have healthy cartilage keeping them mobile and active every day!