Older dogs are very prone to developing arthritis but younger dogs can have these joint problems as well.  Overweight or inactive dogs are also going to be prone to these joint problems.

While there are different types of arthritis, the most common one is osteoarthritis.  Healthy joints have cartilage at their ends and synovial fluid in between them that help lubricate the joints.  Age, injuries, etc. lead to loss of articular cartilage and reduced synovial fluid, leading to bone on bone rubbing.  This causes severe pain and stiff joints found in osteoarthritis.

Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight are a first approach in preventing arthritis in dogs.  Losing even 5 to 10 percent weight will put less stress on the joints and help restore mobility.  But when arthritic symptoms occur, consult your veterinarian about approaches to relieve the pain.

The vet may prescribe Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) as they are the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs although other options include steroid injection and surgery.  However, over-the-counter pet treatments, such as supplements that contain either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or omega fatty acids may be a preferred approach.  These approaches have been shown to reduce arthritis in dogs.  Joint supplements work by helping restore articular cartilage and synovial fluid.  NSAIDs only relieve pain.  Your veterinarian may prescribe an NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression in arthritic dogs.

There are a number of effective over the counter joint supplement that contain glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM and other components of building blocks of cartilage.  VetsPrefer Hip & Joint with Probios for Dogs and PetsPrefer Joint Plus for Dogs are both excellent examples of formulations that contain these components for these desired building blocks of cartilage but with additional benefits as well.  This includes using perna muscle extract in the formulation for its desired omega fatty acid content and glycosaminoglycans (which are also building blocks of cartilage).  This over the counter supplement is very effective in treating arthritis.  In addition, most dogs can safely stay on a joint supplement for the rest of their life.  Once the product has been provided for 6-8 weeks and the symptoms of arthritis have been reduced, the dose also can be reduced.  But as with any supplement, please consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s particular needs.

Dr. Dan DuBourdieu

Dr. Dan holds a Ph.D. and M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Macalester College.  He has been involved in basic cell biology, biochemistry and immunology research at Hoffmann La Roche Inc., ImmuCell Inc. and other research companies.  He has worked with Bomac Vet-Plus Inc for a number of years doing animal nutrition product research and development.