Pet Health Week- Spotlighting Canine Osteoarthritis

Canine Osteoarthritis

What is canine osteoarthritis?

Canine osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that affects one or more joints in the your pet’s body. Affected animals present pain and stiffness that affects their mobility and quality of life.  This disease is characterized by progressive degeneration of articular cartilage. When articular cartilage degenerates, bones and nerves become exposed causing pain and inflammation. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Treatment and management of canine osteoarthritis usually consists of the use of prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, dietary supplements and physical activity.


  • Decreased level of activity
  • Lameness
  • Stiff gait that worsens with exercise, long periods of inactivity, or cold weather



  • Trauma
  • Abnormal wear on joints and cartilage
  • Congenital (at birth) defects
  • Dislocation of the kneecap or shoulder
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Prolonged treatment with steroids



Physical activity

Exercise and keeping an appropriate weight are key factors in the management of canine osteoarthritis. Leash walks and slow jogging are low-impact exercises, which are recommended for dogs with joint disease. You should take your dog for a walk on a daily basis; however, the specific exercise regimen should be based on your dog’s age, weight and disease severity. Multiple short walking sessions are more beneficial for a dog with joint disease than long strenuous exercises.

Dietary Supplements


Perna canaliculus, or green-lipped mussel

Green-lipped mussel (GLM) contains 61% protein, 13% carbohydrates, 12% glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), 5% lipids (including omega-3 fatty acids), 5% minerals, and 4% water. Omega-3 fatty acids are key ingredients that help in the anti-inflammatory activity and thereby the reduction of joint pain. Up to the date, no side effects have been associated with this supplement.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oils (including salmon oil) are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3. The name of these compounds comes from the fact that they have three double bonds at particular positions in the hydrocarbon chain. Omega-3 fatty acids include: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in fish oils and have beneficial effects on the health of humans and pets. Currently, omega-3 fatty acids are used in managing many diseases including neoplasia, dermatologic disease (skin), hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, gastrointestinal disease, and orthopedic disease (including joint disease). The benefits of these compounds rely on the fact that they significantly reduce inflammation in the body.

Avocado/Soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)

In humans, it has been found that ASU modulates osteoarthritis pathogenesis by inhibiting a number of molecules and pathways implicated in the disease. This supplement has anti-catabolic properties that prevent the degradation of cartilage and anabolic properties that promote cartilage repair by stimulating collagen and aggrecan synthesis. At the clinical level, ASU reduces pain and stiffness while improving joint function, resulting in decreased dependence on analgesics (Christiansen, 2005).

Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM):

MSM for dogs can be beneficial because it plays a big part in the formation of healthy skin, amino acids, connective tissue such as ligaments, and blood proteins. A study published in the Journal Osteoarthritis Cartilage found that MSM for dogs can reduce joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. Another study carried out and published in the Journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2007 found that MSM for dogs did not produce toxic chemical or biomechanical signs in clinical trials. Based on this information the use of MSM in dogs is safe and effective in the management of osteoarthritis.

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