As a follow up to last week’s post, Julie Buzby, integrative veterinarian and founder of Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips® continues her thoughts on supplements for dogs—specifically how green lipped mussel can help tame arthritis in your senior dog. If your dog shows signs of slowing down, read on to learn how supplements rich in green lipped mussel can give your dog the support he needs to continue enjoying life to the very fullest.
You should be freshly familiar with some of the most common supplements I recommend for dogs after reading last week’s blog on joint supplements. Maybe you’ve decided to discuss supplements with your veterinarian or are already giving one to your furry friend. If so, that’s great news!
But maybe you’re still on the fence wondering if supplements are right for your dog. I’m here to offer a little bit more guidance and encouragement. If you’re like me, before you buy anything, you want to know the benefits and the positive impact it will have on your life. Making decisions for your dog’s care is no different.
So how do you know if your aging dog could benefit from a joint supplement? I think the best way is for you to come into the exam room with me as I evaluate one of my beloved patients, Arthur.
Arthur is a handsome nine-year-old male Labrador Retriever who came to my hospital one day for an evaluation. His mom was concerned that Arthur was slowing down a bit. On their daily walks, it seemed like Arthur needed more frequent breaks than normal. Whenever he was lying down on his bed, it would take a few seconds before Arthur could stand up without assistance. On some days, his mom also noticed limping and a stiff walk.
Despite these changes, Arthur was still a happy fellow who ate and drank well. Plus, he would never turn down the opportunity to play with the tennis ball!
On the day that Arthur came in to see me, I examined him and paid special attention to his limbs and joints. When I extended his hips and hind legs, Arthur was clearly uncomfortable. There was also resistance from him when I tried to fully stretch his hips, and I noticed the stiff hind limb gait his mom reported seeing.
Since he was an older dog, I suspected Arthur had arthritis. I recommended blood and urine testing to rule out underlying health problems—all these tests came back normal. I took x-rays to check his hips and found moderate changes associated with hip dysplasia, an inherited condition where the ball-and-socket joint of the hips is shallow and prone to inflammation and joint pain as dogs get older. This condition is also known as osteoarthritis.
7 ways to help your dog’s arthritis
Does your own gray-muzzled companion sound like Arthur? If so, there are many things you can do to ease his pain and encourage his mobility. He may benefit from some of the following recommendations from your veterinarian.
1. NSAIDs and pain medications
Medications that target inflammation like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve joint pain. Your veterinarian might prescribe an NSAID for your dog. In some cases, she may recommend additional medications like gabapentin which is commonly prescribed for nerve pain.
A traditional part of Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves placing very small needles into the skin at strategic locations. By focusing on certain points, acupuncture brings the body into balance. For example, targeting specific locations on the hips and knees can help dogs with hind limb arthritis.
3. Physical therapy
Dogs with arthritis may become less active and, as a result, lose some of their muscle strength and walk with a stiff gait. Physical therapy involves deep tissue massage and passive range of motion exercises to strengthen muscles and relieve tension across the joints.
4. Aquatic therapy
Swimming and the use of an underwater treadmill are examples of aquatic therapy. This is a way to help build muscle strength without having to place additional strain on painful joints because the water supports your dog’s body weight. Aquatic therapy can also help overweight dogs lose weight.
5. Cold laser therapy
Cold laser therapy relieves inflammation and promotes soft tissue healing. Specific wavelengths of light are directed at target areas like inflamed joints or infected wounds. It is referred to as a “cold” laser because it is not “hot” like surgical lasers used for cutting and cauterizing tissue.
There are some situations where surgery is necessary to help with your dog’s joint pain. Dogs with severe hip dysplasia that do not respond favorably to the therapies mentioned above may need a total hip replacement.
It’s important to note that while orthopedic surgeries can help with long term pain, they won’t prevent arthritis completely.
Joint supplements are beneficial in almost every instance of arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are common in most joint supplements, have a protective effect on the cartilage between joints by keeping the cartilage flexible and therefore less prone to injuries.
Some supplements may also include omega-3 fatty acids. Found in fish oil, fatty acids provide a mild anti-inflammatory effect. Most pet foods include a small amount of fish oil in their formulas, but it may not be enough to receive the full benefit.
So many options! How do you choose?
Your veterinarian is an expert in helping you decide the right combination of treatment for your old pup. Keep in mind that not all treatments are right for every dog so if your dog experiences intolerable side effects you’ll need to reevaluate and change course.
For most senior dogs with arthritis, medication and supplements are the most common (and effective) treatment plan.
As you discuss supplements with your veterinarian, ask him or her about green lipped mussel—it’s one of the most powerful ingredients in supplements I’ve seen benefit my own patients.
What is green lipped mussel?
Named for their green edges or “lips,” green lipped mussels are a type of shelled mollusk from New Zealand.
Rich in glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids, green lipped mussel (GLM) is a popular joint supplement because of its anti-inflammatory effect. GLM inhibits inflammatory mediators known as leukotrienes and has been shown in studies to help alleviate pain due to osteoarthritis in dogs.
When combined with other ingredients like deer velvet antler, it can protect existing cartilage and repair injured cartilage and tendons. Dr. Buzby’s Encore Mobility combines deer velvet and green lipped mussel into one delicious chew that actively supports healthy hip and joint function.
How does green lipped mussel help senior dogs?
Green lipped mussel supports dogs with inflammation due to osteoarthritis. However, it is likely that GLM can help dogs with other health issues, too:
- GLM’s anti-inflammatory and protective effects may benefit dogs who need orthopedic procedures like knee surgery or fracture repairs.
- Dogs with spinal injuries that require back surgery may also benefit from taking GLM. In some cases, dogs cannot take traditional pain meds due to side effects or coexisting illnesses like kidney disease.
- GLM may provide pain relief as studies have shown pain scores significantly decrease when compared to a placebo.
Traditional treatments + supplements = an ideal combination
There are many treatment options available for dogs like Arthur. Traditional methods like pain medications and physical therapy are excellent, but when combined with supplements, your dog will have all the help he needs to support his joints and keep him active for many years to come.
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What tips and tricks do you have to help your senior dog enjoy life to the fullest?
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