Arthritis is one of the more common health issues dogs face today. Arthritis can occur in any joint, from the neck to the toes, although it’s commonly found in the hips, elbows and back.
Knowing how you can help manage arthritis in your dog is really important. But having the right tools and knowledge can have a profound impact on your dog’s quality of life.
I'm sure you want your dog to live a long and healthy life. For most dogs, adventures and playtime are the spice of life. As common as arthritis may be, there's also many ways you can keep it at bay.
Today, I want to share some important supplements that can help put a spring back in his step. But first, let's do a quick review of what's causing the pain.
What's Happening When We See Arthritis Pain In Dogs?
When your dog starts to show signs of stiffness or pain it's often the first sign of arthritis. Arthritis means joint inflammation and as much as it's considered an aging disease ... it can develop in younger dogs too.
The inflammation in the joint causes pain and swelling and will changes how your dog moves. It can also spread to the tissues around the joint which creates even more pain.
A joint is the place where two bones meet.
Around each joint there are also soft tissues that work to move and support the joint including:
Each bony end is covered in a smooth, porcelain-like surface called joint cartilage. The cartilage is what protects your dog's joints from damage. Joint cartilage contains a high concentration of nerve fibers. This is why when it's touched, it's like hitting your funny bone … which really isn’t all that funny.
There is also a fibrous joint capsule where the two bones meet. Inside the capsule is a fluid that's thick like molasses and allows it to move easily. I
This fluid is made from some very unique sugars. They combine amino acids to create compounds with shock-absorbing properties.
These specialized fluids aren’t just in the joints of you dog: they’re found in all animals. This is good news if your dog is lucky enough to be enjoying a raw diet, complete with bones. When he eats the joints he'll also be eating the joint protecting nutrients inside them.
But if your dog is eating a cooked or kibble diet they won't get the same benefit.
So let's review 4 top joint supplements you can feed to take the pain out of arthritis in dogs.
4 Key Joint Supplements To Feed Your Dog
Regardless of your dog's diet, there are four supplements you should consider feeding:
- Eggshell Membrane
- Omega 3 fatty acids
These help to lubricate your dog’s joints and can even repair damaged joint cartilage.
Adding these supplements can help your dog if:
He's eating a cooked diet
He has any existing joint disease
You want to be proactive about his long term joint health
So let's dive into more detail about how each works to ensure your dog's mobility and comfort stays great.
You've likely heard of glucosamine supplements for dogs. You will find it in a number of joint products because it's a natural anti-inflammatory for joints.
Glucosamine plays a role in building and supporting your dog's cartilage cells. A young healthy dog is able to produce their own glucosamine in the body. The trouble comes when your dog ages and isn't able to produce as much as he once did.
This makes it a great supplement to give your dog as he matures.
Ideally, you'll want to start feeding it when you first see the smallest changes in his movement ... or better yet give it proactively if you have a large breed dog.
You'll need to feed it daily to get the most benefits. This is because only 30 to 40% is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Studies also show it can take 2 months to reach therapeutic levels so daily dosing is best.
Raw meaty bones
- Green lipped mussels
Chondroitin is important for your dog's cartilage as helps protect it from damage. It works well for supporting the joint structures when given with glucosamine.
Much like glucosamine chondroitin should be given daily and takes time to build up in the body. When the two are given daily they can help lessen the pain and swelling, especially if your dog has an injury.
This is great for those older dogs who don't know how to slow down. You know the ones still dock diving at the cottage all weekend or playing hard with a younger dog.
Raw meaty bones
Eggshell Membrane NEM®
And the research so far is showing some pretty amazing results.
NEM is the natural thin membrane that’s on the inside of an eggshell. It's one of the latest researched supplements on the market for joints in people and dogs.
Relieve pain in inflamed joints
Improve mobility in joints
Help prevent cartilage breakdown
What's great about NEM is that a study in dogs saw an improvement in just 1 week! This makes it a great supplement for dogs who already have pain in their joints. It will help them find the relief they need fast.
NEM is not only safe and effective, it's really easy to give to your dog as a supplement daily. Or if you're really keen you can peel out the membrane layer from shells at home ... but that is not nearly as easy.
To boost your dog's diet:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are really important for your dog for a number of reasons. But when it comes to joint health, they:
EPA and DHA work best at reducing joint pain and inflammation when given at 45-70 mg/ pound. This is a much higher dose than if you were feeding them for skin inflammation.
It's best to start with a low dose and work your dog up to the full dosage. If you give too much too soon he may have some loose stools.
You may have noticed fish oil was not listed. Check out the blog below to learn why it's not the best source of omega-3 fats for your dog.
A Quick Note On Hyaluronic Acid
Now I didn't mention hyaluronic acid (HA) in our top 4 list but it's often listed on labels of joint supplements.
So let's review what is and how you can sneak it into your dog naturally.
Hyaluronic acid is also made by the body and is found in the joint fluid. But much like glucosamine as your dog ages the body can't produce as much anymore.
Depending on your dog's arthritis pain, your vet may recommend injections of HA. These injections go right into your dog's joint and provide pain relief ... but it's invasive and can come with risks.
Hyaluronic acid is also often combined with glucosamine and chondroitin in commercial supplements. It's important to know what when you feed your dog HA only 10% will be absorbed into his bloodstream ... and the rest is broken down in his stomach.
So if you're interested in feeding HA, you'll want to feed it in combination with the others we have listed above.
You can boost your dog's HA levels by feeding:
Bonus: Herbal Remedies For Arthritis In Dogs
Dr Chris Besset also recommends herbs as a great addition to your dog’s daily joint support. You can consider adding in one or two as needed ... but don't feed them all to your dog at the same time. When in doubt, ask your holistic vet about the best combination for your dog.
Here's a quick review of a few herbs to boost your dog's comfort:
Dosing licorice root for dogs:
You want to use licorice tincture for best absorption
Give 12-20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight
Licorice should only be given for short term periods
Give one pinch once daily in a gel cap. This helps it reach your dog's stomach
Don't use it if your dog has any inflammation in their gut, as it may cause irritation
Dosing chamomile for dogs:
Dosing curcumin for dogs:
To feed raw ginger, you’ll need to cut the skin off with a knife first
Finely mince the yellow part of the root and mix it into one of your dog's meals
Start with a low dose
Miniature breeds give 1/4 teaspoon. Dogs under 35 pounds give 1/2 teaspoon. Larger dogs can have a 3/4 teaspoon
Dosing Gotu Kola for dogs:
Joint health can be a big issue for many dog owners. But, with these great additions to your dog's diet, you can help him feel like his old self again.