Nutritional supplements, commonly known as “nutraceuticals”, are now widely used to prevent and control pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis in dogs.
These joint supplements for dogs are non-drugs and are naturally occurring substances taken as an addition to a normal diet.
Their use is often preferred because they are natural and cause very little side effects, if any. If used in reasonable amounts, it is almost impossible to reach toxicity levels.
Understand that most joint supplements for dogs cannot cure or reverse osteoarthritis.
Most supplements work primarily to help decrease the inflammation in the joints, thereby relieving some or most of the pain caused. Using joint supplements may lessen the need for anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or Rimadyl.
Common canine joint supplements used in the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs include:
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin C
Let’s take a look at each of them.
Glucosamine is one of the most commonly used canine joint supplements. It is a naturally occurring sugar-and-amino acid compound that is found in large quantities in cartilage.
Glucosamine is one of the major components necessary for the formation of joint lubricants and shock absorbers vital to the maintenance and restoration of healthy joints.
As a joint supplement, glucosamine works as an anti-inflammatory. It helps limit cartilage destruction and pain and probably also provides some benefits in the process of cartilage healing.
Glucosamine is derived from chitin, which is found in the shells of shellfish such as crabs, shrimps, or lobsters. There are three forms of glucosamine – the sulfate form is recommended because it seems to be absorbed and utilized the best.
The purity of glucosamine varies, so does the quality of different brands of the supplement. Make sure to buy a highly purified product produced by a reputable company.
Also one of the most frequently used canine joint supplements, chondroitin sulfate is a complex molecule found mainly in cartilage and also some other parts of the body. It controls the flow of water in and out of cartilage.
A lack of chondroitin sulfate results in a decrease in the cartilage’s ability to regulate water flow. This causes dehydration and hardening of the cartilage. This results in the cartilage losing its cushioning effect in a joint.
In addition, chondroitin sulfate can protect cartilage by blocking the actions of certain enzymes that lead to breakdown in the joints. It may contribute to improvement of cartilage healing.
Chondroitin sulfate has anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found that, when combined with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate may decrease the need for NSAIDs.
Green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a good source of chondroitin sulfate.
MSM is a naturally-occurring form of sulfur compound. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and is therefore widely used as joint supplements for dogs.
Please visit our page on MSM for Dogs for more information on this supplement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. They work by replacing an element in the cell walls (Arachidonic acid – “AA”) with another element (Eicosapentaenoic acid – “EPA”).
When a joint is injured, AA breaks down into chemicals that increase pain and inflammation. However, when EPA breaks down upon a joint injury, it produces chemicals that are less inflammatory and even potentially anti-inflammatory.
Therefore, by replacing AA with EPA, pain and inflammation as a result of osteoarthritis or joint problem will decrease.
One study has found that about 80% of the dogs in the study showed improved joint function after being supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids.
The study also found that by supplementing a dog with Omega-3 fatty acids, the use of NSAIDs can be decreased.
Please visit this page for more information on this supplement.
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Therefore, it can ease pain and reduce inflammation brought on by osteoarthritis.
Vitamin C also helps build new cartilage by producing collagen which is a tough and ropy protein found in cartilage.
This vitamin is often found in combination products with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.