Should you start giving your dog a joint supplement?
By Aleza Freeman, Pet Lifestyle Contributor
Here’s a reason to smile (as if that fuzzy face isn’t enough):
Dogs are living longer than ever before thanks to modern day science and medicine.
The thanks also goes to you for treating Poochie to the best veterinary care and nutrition possible. (It’s not like you can leave meal planning up to your shih tzu. There’s never been a bowl of kibble—or full litter box—he didn’t try to eat).
When to consider a hip and joint supplement
Just as you have your own self-care routine, you may be looking for ways to support your dog’s health beyond gourmet chow. If you’re thinking about a hip and joint supplement, rest assured you’re not alone.
A study by Rockville, MD-based market research firm Package Facts shows that one third of all U.S. households with dogs use pet supplements--especially joint health supplements.
The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) even calls them a safe and natural way to potentially improve your pet’s quality of life.
A safe and natural way to make your dog’s life better? Seems like a no brainer...
Since larger breeds of dogs may experience symptoms of arthritis and dysplasia earlier than others, the NASC believes it’s best to start supplements sooner than later.
If your dog isn’t predisposed to these problems, consider bringing them up to your vet before he reaches his golden years.
“I prefer to be proactive whenever possible and start [supplements] to maintain health rather than attempt to restore it,” says Laguna Woods Veterinarian Bernadine Cruz, DVM. “Most veterinarians will gladly discuss your concerns.”
The hip bone’s connected to the ...
There’s a good reason why supplements for joint health are the ones most commonly purchased for dogs.
Studies show that nearly 20% of all dogs older than one year and 80% older than seven years suffer from the stiff, achy joints of arthritis. As dogs age, the cartilage and fluids protecting their bones break down, leading to irritation, inflammation and pain.
Even if your dog has the bounce of a spring-loaded puppy, he could experience joint problems. The signs may be subtle, but significant like taking shorter walks, avoiding the dog park or refusing to walk upstairs.
Some of the common symptoms for joint and hip problems in dogs of all ages include:
- Difficulty trying to sit down or stand up
- Struggling to jump into the car
- Limping Favoring a leg
- Lifting a limb in the air
- Swollen joints
- An audible popping or cracking in the hips
Some of the above are a natural part of growing and aging, but they shouldn’t be ignored. And if you have any concerns about your dog’s health, we recommend going to see a vet.
“Any age can be affected, any breed can suffer from this eventually crippling disease,” says Dr. Cruz. “If you have any suspicion that something is off, don’t deny what you are seeing. Make an appointment to see your veterinarian sooner than later.”
Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is the most common form of arthritis in dogs. The condition is primarily seen in large breed dogs, though even pint-sized purse pooches can suffer.
Another leading cause of hip and joint pain in certain breeds of all ages is hip dysplasia, a genetic trait (diagnosed by x-ray) affecting the depth of the hip socket. When a dog is born with hip dysplasia, the ill-fitting femur bone rubs against the shallow hip socket, eventually leading to arthritis.
The weight of the matter
While a chubby Buddha belly may seem perfect for rubbing, it puts a lot of unwanted stress on doggy’s body and his limbs. In fact, both of the above mentioned conditions and other joint diseases are often exacerbated by unhealthy weight.
“Too many people equate giving food as giving love,” notes Cruz. “We have gotten accustomed to supersizing our meals and our pets. Excessive weight puts unnecessary strain on joints, mechanically making it difficult to move.”
Dr. Cruz also cites recent research showing that the fat within the abdominal cavity produces pro-inflammatory chemicals. That inflammation affects all body systems, especially the joints.
Even the skinniest whippet, by the way, could be hit with a degenerative joint disease. Some of it comes down to genetics and breed, other times it’s simply bad luck.
How to choose his chews
Not just any pet supplement is good enough for your fur baby, but with so many brands available, it can be tough to choose the best hip and joint supplement for your dog.
Look for a health supplement like our multifunctional SmartyPaws chews (for puppy, adult and senior dogs), made with superstar ingredients for hip and joint health including glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussel and omega-3 EPA & DHA from fish oil.
These ingredients were carefully-selected by our Veterinary Advisory Board (VAB) to promote joint health, help ease joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity and help support the structural integrity of joints and connective tissue.
Here’s a look at what they can do:
Glucosamine - Glucosamine helps maintain synovial fluid that lubricates joints. It also may stimulate the production of proteoglycans which help maintain the health and resiliency of joints and connective tissue.
Chondroitin - A study by the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences found that chondroitin sulfate combined with glucosamine helps promote cartilage development.
Dr. Cruz says, “Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are building blocks of normal articular cartilage. These two ingredients won’t reverse or stop arthritis, but they will keep other joints healthy.”
Green-lipped mussels - Native to New Zealand, these time-tested mollusks have eased joint pain in humans for more than 100 years. Dr. Cruz touts their anti-inflammatory properties for dogs and adds they “also contain chondroitin for cartilage health.”
- Omega-3 EPA and DHA (fatty acids) from fish oil - Omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. The body doesn’t produce enough of these healthy fats on its own, but they are vital to your dog’s everyday health, strong muscles and healthy joints. So, we include omega-3 EPA and DHA to promote healthy joints, along with supporting other canine health concerns.
The American College of Veterinary Nutrition recommends talking to your vet if you’re thinking about using any supplement.
More pep for your pup
There’s no magic potion for a dog with hip and joint issues. But the right blend of premium multifunctional ingredients for hip and joint support could add more pep to their step.
Poochie may eventually rely on his royal chariot (a.k.a. you) for a lift, up and down the stairs, but—fingers crossed—he’ll still be entertaining his instagram followers for years to come.