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How to Maintain Your Dog's Mobility - Joint Health, Osteoarthritis, and Practical Tips

by Ashkan Sadri September 21, 2021 8 min read

Dog check after a joint surgery

Aging is a part of life, but that doesn't mean we shouldn’t support this natural process. As dog owners, we have the ability to promote long-term health and wellness for our pets. With age, we start to see mobility issues creep up.

Long walks become more straining, stairs become more tiring, and energy levels begin to decrease.

So, let's talk about how you can promote joint health and mobility in your pets - helping them stay healthy, longer.

In this article, we'll cover four main topics:

  • What happens to joints as they age?
  • What is the most common joint disease in dogs?
  • Three things promoting dog joint health
  • Which supplement best supports joint health and mobility?

What happens to joints as they age?

Healthy joints are something we (including our dogs) often take for granted. The only difference is that your dog can’t do anything to improve its joint health and mobility. As pet owners, we are in a prime position to understand the science and advocate for our dog’s health.

To understand what happens to joints as they age, we first need to grasp what makes a joint healthy.

What makes a joint “healthy”?

Anywhere two bones interact, you can find a joint. Dogs use a variety of different types of joints to support the body and produce movements. Of these joints, the synovial joint is most involved with mobility (1).

Synovial joints are made of two opposing bones lined with cartilage, a joint capsule supported by ligaments, and a synovial membrane that produces synovial fluid.

This synovial fluid works to lubricate the joint, allowing for smooth movement (1). A major component of synovial fluid that provides lubricating properties is Hyaluronan - a molecule with an essential role in cartilage repair and shock absorption (2).

What makes a joint healthy is its ability to have a full range of motion without resistance. We need two things for this to happen:

  1. The cartilage surface must remain smooth.
  2. The synovial fluid must maintain its viscosity.
Joint Structure

Joint Damage – What happens as your dog ages?

Dog joints handle a lot of wear and tear. For example, joint surfaces can be exposed to high pressure or impact when a dog jumps or lands on its joints. If you think about our own bodies, our knees are common sites for arthritis due to the amount of time they spend absorbing impact from joint movements (1).

The problem with joints is that there is very little blood supply. This makes it difficult for the body to repair damage (3).

As the joint surface is exposed to more wear and tear, this lack of blood supply makes it difficult for the body to remove damaged material from the joint. This leads to joint disease - a condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, loss of mobility, and cartilage deterioration (4).

Veterinary researchers have identified key dietary supplements that can help keep your dog’s joints nourished throughout life. By applying information from evidence-based studies, we’ve learned that our dog’s joint health and mobility relies on proactive support from an early age.

Joint Damage

What is the most common joint disease in dogs?

Different dog breeds are predisposed to a variety of diseases affecting the joints. Smaller breeds such as the pug, chihuahua, and bichon are at higher risk of patellar luxation - a condition that affects joint stability due to hypermobility of the knee cap (5). In larger breeds, we see an increased prevalence of hip dysplasia that affects 16% of all dogs in the United States and Canada (6).

Yet, the most common disease affecting the joints in dogs is osteoarthritis - a condition caused by progressive deterioration of the cartilage and accumulation of debris within the synovial fluid (7).

Osteoarthritis typically occurs after trauma, or excessive wear of the joint and is associated with severe pain and loss of mobility in aging dogs (8). A study found the prevalence of osteoarthritis to be 20% in dogs over one year of age but increased to 80% over eight years of age (9).

What causes osteoarthritis? There is still no clear answer, but it appears to be a combination of factors. There is both a biomechanical and genetic component that puts certain breeds at risk (10).

What we do know is that the severity of osteoarthritis depends on cartilage cell health. These cells repair the joint’s surface following injury. In cases involving chronic or severe trauma, cartilage cells lose regulation and can’t restore damage to the pre-injury state. This makes the joint vulnerable to friction since the surfaces are no longer smooth, accelerating further damage of the joint (11).

We can give our dogs the best chance of healthy mobility by supporting the joint cells and structure. At Lively Paws, we've worked together with veterinarians to do just that! Our Mobility formula is a tasty, chewable supplement that promotes proper joint function for all dogs.

Causes of joint pain

Three Things Promoting Dog Joint Health

When it comes to joint health, there are several ways how pet owners can support their dog’s mobility. The three major factors determining joint health are exercise, diet, and supplementation.

Studies focused on dog mobility have found excessive body weight to be a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis (8). Added weight puts pressure on your dog's joints, making them more susceptible to wear and limiting their mobility.

When we consider diet, your dog can also benefit from healthy omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish, seafood, and nuts. A recent study found omega-3 reduced mRNA levels of inflammatory markers related to osteoarthritis (12).The diets we feed our dogs lack sufficient omega-3's, so supplementing these fatty acids is necessary if your dog is at risk of mobility issues.

Luckily, our Mobility chews include 150 mg of Green-Lipped Mussel, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids - your dog’s joints will thank you later. Supplements allow us to fill in the huge gap that diet and exercise leave behind. Thanks to science, we can finally add the right nutrients that give our dogs the best chance of keeping healthy joints.

Which supplement best supports joint health and mobility?

Providing your dog with the right combination of supplements is a major factor to promote joint health and mobility. It's important to remember that joint health is a long-term plan.

Although you may notice improvements earlier, it can take up to 150 days for the active ingredients to improve joint mobility (13). This emphasizes the use of such dietary supplements to maintain healthy joints and prevent the likelihood of injury.

This is why we've collaborated with veterinarians to create our cartilage-protective Mobility chews that can be used as early as 8-weeks of age. Now we can provide your dog's joints with the support they need from as a puppy, to their senior years. On top of utilizing the omega-3 fatty acids provided by the Green-Lipped Mussels, we've also incorporated these two key ingredients:

1. Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Glucosamine is a building block of cartilage and supports healthy joint development (4). It's also involved in the production of hyaluronan, the molecule we talked about earlier that has a significant role in joint cushioning and lubrication (2). Each of our Mobility chews is packed with 500 mg of Glucosamine Hydrochloride, serving as a healthy maintenance dose for a dog up to 35 kg.

2. Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin Sulfate is an inhibitor of enzymes that damage cartilage. This works best when given in together with Glucosamine, as the two work together to decrease joint inflammation (4). Our Mobility chews include 110 mg of Chondroitin Sulfate, working together with Glucosamine to provide your dog with optimal mobility support.

The benefits of these two ingredients have received strong support from veterinarians. For example, in a study investigating pain levels in dogs with moderate osteoarthritis, supplementation with Glucosamine + Chondroitin Sulfate resulted in a 51% decrease in overall pain, a 48% decrease following limb manipulation, and a 43% decrease in pain after exercise (13).

Another study also found improvement in the ability of osteoarthritic dogs to bear weight on the affected limbs and reduce pain after 70 days of supplementation (14). This emphasizes the significance of both Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate to reduce pain, support mobility, and improve joint health in our dogs.

At Lively Paws, we use research by scientists and veterinarians to formulate supplements that will have an impact. This means our products are backed by real science, ensuring your dog is properly nourished for as long as possible.

6 Active Ingredients

Final Thoughts

As your dog ages, joint health and mobility will be impacted. It's essential to support the aging process with proper diet, exercise, and supplementation that promotes healthy joints. Helping make things a little easier, we've formulated our Mobility chews into a convenient supplement that keeps your dog’s joints nourished. To learn more about the active ingredients and benefits of Mobility chews, visit our website.

If you want more information on how these dietary supplements work together to provide joint health benefits, contact us at Lively Paws today! We're here to answer any questions about our products so we can help you make informed decisions.

Talk soon,
Lively Paws Team

 

Sources:

  1. Tamer TM. Hyaluronan and synovial joint: function, distribution and healing. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013;6(3):111-125. doi:10.2478/intox-2013-0019; Link
  2. Kobayashi T, Chanmee T, Itano N. Hyaluronan: Metabolism and Function. Biomolecules. 2020;10(11):1525. Published 2020 Nov 7. doi:10.3390/biom10111525; Link
  3. Juneja P, Munjal A, Hubbard JB. Anatomy, Joints. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Link
  4. Bhathal A, Spryszak M, Louizos C, Frankel G. Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review. Open Vet J. 2017;7(1):36-49. doi:10.4314/ovj.v7i1.6; Link
  5. Di Dona F, Della Valle G, Fatone G. Patellar luxation in dogs. Vet Med (Auckl). 2018;9:23-32. Published 2018 May 31. doi:10.2147/VMRR.S142545; Link
  6. Loder RT, Todhunter RJ. The Demographics of Canine Hip Dysplasia in the United States and Canada. J Vet Med. 2017;2017:5723476. doi:10.1155/2017/5723476; Link
  7. Anderson KL, Zulch H, O'Neill DG, Meeson RL, Collins LM. Risk Factors for Canine Osteoarthritis and Its Predisposing Arthropathies: A Systematic Review. Front Vet Sci. 2020;7:220. Published 2020 Apr 28. doi:10.3389/fvets.2020.00220; Link
  8. Anderson KL, O'Neill DG, Brodbelt DC, et al. Prevalence, duration and risk factors for appendicular osteoarthritis in a UK dog population under primary veterinary care. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):5641. Published 2018 Apr 4. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-23940-z; Link
  9. Johnston SA. Osteoarthritis. Joint anatomy, physiology, and pathobiology. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1997 Jul;27(4):699-723. doi: 10.1016/s0195-5616(97)50076-3. PMID;  9243777; Link
  10. Meeson RL, Todhunter RJ, Blunn G, Nuki G, Pitsillides AA. Spontaneous dog osteoarthritis - a One Medicine vision. Nat Rev Rheumatol; 2019;15(5):273-287. doi:10.1038/s41584-019-0202-1; Link
  11. Roseti L, Desando G, Cavallo C, Petretta M, Grigolo B. Articular Cartilage Regeneration in Osteoarthritis. Cells. 2019;8(11):1305. Published 2019 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/cells8111305; Link
  12. Zainal Z, Longman AJ, Hurst S, Duggan K, Caterson B, Hughes CE, Harwood JL. Relative efficacies of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in reducing expression of key proteins in a model system for studying osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Jul;17(7):896-905. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.12.009. Epub 2009 Jan 13. PMID: 19217322; Link
  13. Gupta RC, Canerdy TD, Lindley J, Konemann M, Minniear J, Carroll BA, Hendrick C, Goad JT, Rohde K, Doss R, Bagchi M, Bagchi D. Comparative therapeutic efficacy and safety of type-II collagen (UC-II), glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic dogs: pain evaluation by ground force plate. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2012 Oct;96(5):770-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2011.01166.x. Epub 2011 May 30. PMID: 21623931; Link
  14. McCarthy G, O'Donovan J, Jones B, McAllister H, Seed M, Mooney C. Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. Vet J. 2007 Jul;174(1):54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2006.02.015. Epub 2006 May 2. PMID: 16647870; Link
Ashkan Sadri
Ashkan Sadri

Ashkan Sadri is a Canadian veterinary student studying abroad in Croatia, with special interests in animal nutrition, large animal medicine, and surgical procedures. He is also the creator of Vet Abroad - an educational resource for future veterinarians who are considering studying abroad!



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