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Canine Joint Supplements
By understanding joint supplements, you can help effectively integrate a feeding
and exercise program that can advance your dogs overall wellbeing and longevity.
Pet owners’ love affair with their furry friends has produced several trends in the care of dogs, one being the growing use of natural supplements to support and maintain healthy joint function. Pain and discomfort associated with normal activity can be common among certain breeds – Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepherds and Saint Bernards are genetically predisposed to hip joint problems, whereas smaller breeds, including Poodles, Shih tzus or Dashshunds, can be affected with knee an spinal joint conditions. Most dogs, regardless of size or breed, experience joint discomfort as they age.
Medications vs. Supplements
Conventional veterinary joint therapy revolves around pain reduction with long-term administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), most commonly etodolac (EtoGesis), tepoxalin (Zubrin) or carprofen (Rimadyl). However, all classes of NSAIDs have the potential to induce gastrointestinal toxicity, kidney failure and liver disease Even the newer COX-2 selective NSAIDs can lead to cardiovascular difficulties in dogs. The expense of animal drugs and complications of use have pushed pet owners to seek safer products wirh fewer negative side effects.
Natural joint care supplements can play a key roll in canine connective tissue health by “re-structuring” joints, rather than masking the pain with NSAIDs. Today, there is a large number of safe and effective joint health supplements containing a myriad of exotic and confusing ingredients. Wise pet owners will learn how to evaluate these products, especially in terms of ingredients, label claims and, most importantly, how they affect the quality of animals’ lives.
Follow the Ingredients
There is evidence in people and dogs that glucosamine and chondroitin, alone or in combination, effectively relieve pain and improve mobility. These conpounds provide support for large breeds, aging animals, working dogs and competing canines by protecting articular cartilage, thus slowing or even preventing joint changes that cause discomfort. While methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has not been studied as extensively as glucosamine and chondroitin, it to can improve a dog’s ability to perform daily activities by serving as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and providing a source of sulfur, which has a major role in cartilage health.
Green-lipped mussel (Pernacanaliculus) contains several compounds that are useful in maintaining joint health, including glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), trace minerals and essential fatty acids. Hyaluronic acid (HA) and collagen type II help lubricate joints, and white willow bark, boswellia, yucca, ginger, SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) and omega-3 fatty acids help with inflammation and stiffness. Antioxidants, like vitamins A, C and E, grape seed extract and zinc, and minerals, like copper and manganese, reduce free radical activity to decrease inflammation.
Joint support supplements seem to have no negative side effects, except for mild digestive distress in some animals. Dogs sensitive to shellfish may not tolerate glucosamine-derived from chitin, a substance found in the shells of crabs, shrimp and lobster, but it doesn’t appear to interfere with medications, is safe for pregnant dogs, and doesn’t have any effect on diabetes in dogs. Both chondroitin and MSM are safe, and there are few reports of negative side effects of Green-lipped Mussel. Boswellia shouldn’t be used with NSAIDs in pregnant animals or those with severe liver or kidney disease.
It is important that pet owners pay attention to the labels of the joint supplements. You should know the nuances of the various ingredients, distinguish “fairy dusted” labels from those containing efficacious ingredients in levels appropriate for effect, and be alert for egregious label claims and verbiage that do not comply with Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) guidlines.
Labeling guidlines have been created by the FDA/CVM whereby supplements considered feed products, such as multi-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, skin and coat and shedding products are required to have a label format distinct from joint care suoolement labels.
Proper listing of ingredients- Joint supplements (sometimes referred to as “remedies”) must list the amounts of all ingredients that may alter a structure or function in the “active ingredient” section of a label. All other ingredients, including palatability enhancers or flowing agents, must be listed alphabetically in the “inactive ingredients” area. Protein, fat, fiber and moisture levels should not be listed, nor any reference to food terms like “nutrition,” “nutrients” or “mix with food.” Labels of supplements classified as “foods” resemble pet food labels and must display the percentages of protein, fat, fiber and moisture, as well as a listing of all ingredients in descending order by weight.
Allowed label claims-Claims can describe a supplement’s effects on body structure or function, such as “supports and maintains joint health” or “may help relieve pain and discomfort associated with normal activity,” butshouldn’t reference a disease – for example, “for use in dogs with canine hip dysplasia” or ” reduces pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.” In fact, labelsclaiming that the product is intended to “diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or mitigate disease” will ensure a stop-sale order by state AAFCO regulators.
NASC Seal of Quality – The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) is a self-policing body of animal supplement manufacturers that work closely with FDA/CVM and AAFCO to establish supplement guidlines that are nationally consistent and do not mislead pet owners with false claims. Only member companies that successfully pass an independent audit, maintain a system of adverse event reporting an comply with FDA/CVM label guidelines are permitted to display the NASC “Seal of Quality” icon on their products.
Suggested Use Guidelines
Feeding suggestions and daily dosages on the literature are ONLY suggested use guidelines and are a starting point. Your dosage may require fine tuning depending on the animal’s age and condition. It usually takes four to six weeks to see changes in a dog’s mobility.
Supplements can also be used to maintain joint health in young active dogs and large breeds less than seven years old to prolong the onset or lessen the severity of joint problems.
Thank You for your interest in this information and keep watching for more informative articles. If there is something that effects your pets nutritionally, please email us and we will try to find accurate information that will help everyone.