There is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove that any arthritis supplements work, so why bother?
There are some theoretical beneficial effects to these supplements and they may reduce the need or even enhance the effect of other medications. For example we use synovan injections which are a combination of pentosan and chondroitin. There is good evidence that this combination works better than pentosan alone.
- They do no harm.
- They are all safe to use as long as your dog is not allergic to seafood and doesn’t have diabetes
- They provide building blocks for healthy cartilage so may prevent or slow the onset of osteoarthritis.
What are they?
All of the available supplements contain some combination of these ingredients:
- chondroitin - a sugar derived from cartilage that is a building block for the big long sugars that give cartilage it’s elasticity
- glucosamine - as per chondroitin
- green lipped muscle - used for an anti-inflammatory effect
- omega 3 fatty acids supplementation - used for anti-inflammatory effect
- sea cucumber - potential anti-inflammatory effects
- msm - anti-inflammatory effects possible
Where do they come from?
Chondrotin, glucosamine, green lipped muscle, and sea cucumber are all derived from animals from the sea. It is extremely important to me that the raw materials are sourced from sustainable fisheries.
I don’t see the point in killing sharks so we can use their cartilage as a supplement in our pets with no proven benefit.
We do not stock products at Companion Animal Vet Hospital that do not come from a sustainable source. If a manufacturer comes to me with a new osteoarthritis product the first question I ask is where did it come from and is it sustainable.
Some supplements such as Glyde do not use any seafood at all. The chondroitin and glucosamine is instead derived from bovine cartilage.
In what situations should they be used?
The following are the situations where I see benefits in using a supplement:
- prevention of osteoarthritis in at-risk dogs
- hip dysplasia
- joint surgery
- bent legs
- dislocating kneecaps
- as part of the treatment of osteoarthritis- they should only be used in addition, not as a substitute to proven methods that are proven to actually work such as pentosan or antiinflammatories.
If costs are a concern the first priority must always be pain relief.
So which one?
- Fat dog with arthritis: Feed a weightless diet and use a supplement
- Thin dog with a no other health problems other than arthritis- feed a complete diet such as Royal Canin Mobility Diet which already has the supplements added to it.
- Fussy dog that won’t change diets: use a dietary supplement such as a powder or treats
Is it really what it says it is?
The nutritional supplement industry isn’t very well regulated so it’s important try use a product which is pharmaceutical grade so that you know what you are getting.