Joint Support: When to Start and Choosing a Supplement

One in five dogs will suffer from arthritis in their lifetime. Let’s not even count the other more severe injuries such as cruciate (ACL) rupture, luxating patella and lameness. Are there some dogs more prone to arthritis and joint related injuries? Yes, we most commonly attribute this to large breeds but the small breeds spend a lot of time jumping up and down furniture in their lifetime. Their smaller legs also have to move a lot quicker to walk. Don’t wait for the obvious signs of arthritic discomfort: reluctance to jump, stairs become more difficult, a decreased interest in activity and just noticeably “slowing down”.

If you’re buying a purebred puppy make sure to research the known issues of that breed and their lineage for any known joint issues or injuries. If you’re looking for a larger purebred this information is crucial. Any reputable breeder will have this information readily available. It’s different for your general “mutt”. Because of the genetic diversity they actually tend to have fewer Orthopedic issues overall.

I recommend starting your puppy or new addition immediately. There are some great supplements out there and I will break down the key ingredients to look for later in this article.

Key tips to help maintain healthy joints:

  • Make sure to maintain your dog’s proper weight
  • Engage them in regular exercise
  • Ask your Veterinarian to check your dog’s joints during their annual exam
  • Choose quality food: if a food claims to include ingredients for joint support, keep in mind during the heating process of kibble these ingredients reduce in potency and may not be beneficial

If starting a puppy on a supplement it’s great to use an overall supplement that contains ingredients that could possibly prevent known health issues. The most common joint supplements include Glucosamine and Chondroitin; great for helping with existing arthritis but they are not a preventative. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a supplement. Often they contain other key ingredients for the maintenance of overall health. If you want to start off simple, go with a wild caught salmon oil. Not only is it great for the coat, skin and cardiovascular system but it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
What to Look For

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are essential. The Chondroitin (Chondoroitin Sulfate) helps aid in the damage of connective tissue. It is believed that not only does it address the disease process itself but may actually help the body to repair the damaged cartilage and prevent the premature degredation of cartilage. It keeps the cartilage hydrated which assists in cushioning the stress of impact. The most common and potent source of Chondroitin is shark cartilage. Any quality supplement manufacturer will source this responsibly. If you want an alternative source of Chondroitin, Green Lipped Muscle is a good source of Chondroitin but it also has the added benefit of hyaluronic acid which is found in the synovial fluid (joint lubricant) of joints. It also naturally lubricates the joints thus aiding in shock absorption. Because this is a naturally occurring fluid in the joints the production of “HA” may slow down once joints are damaged or compromised.
Glucosamine goes hand in hand with Chondroitin. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino acid and is composed of sugar that is involved with the production of the synovial fluid. This is necessary to help maintain and restore healthy joint performance. Glucosamine is extracted from crab, lobster or shrimp shells. Since there are three forms of Glucosamine (sulfate, hydrochloride and N-acetyl), when looking for your supplement make sure you choose Glucosamine sulfate. This form is absorbed and utilized the best.

Other Supplements to Note:
MSM (Methylsulfanlmethane): a source of sulfur which is required for collagen synthesis. It may inhibit pain impulses that travel along nerve fibers, acting as an analgesic. MSM also has anti-inflammatory effects and helps improve the body’s ability to repair and strengthen the tissue. This is why I choose not to purchase any supplement without MSM. It adds that extra “oomph” to joint support.

Green Lipped Muscle (Perna canaliculus): a source of Chondroitin, hyaluronic acid and other beneficial nutrients

Omega 3 fatty acids (found in salmon oil): these have anti-inflammatory effects. They also help regulate the cells in cartilage and may help protect against cartilage degredation.

If you do choose to add a supplement to your dog’s diet it’s recommended you select a supplement from a manufacturer that has been accredited with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). This ensures they have the highest standard in quality and follow necessary protocols. To find a NASC certified manufacturer visit: www.nasc.cc. Just like with any supplement, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian before you start.

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