The aging of your “best friend” is tragic, but now you can help …

Protect & Restore
Your Dog’s Health

… by employing science-based preventive and restorative
supplementation for the dog that you love

By Will Block

D ogs have long been referred to as man’s best friend. What about women? A recent poll found that women (69%) are much more likely to own a pet than men (55%), and of all pet owners, seven out of ten (69%) have a dog, and about one out of two (51%) own a cat (see here). While no one appears to have broken down dog ownership between men and women, from the above data the chances seem excellent that women are the dominate force, overturning the old saw for a new truth: “a dog is a woman’s best friend.” Sorry men! It may be that many women find the “perfect man” in their dogs.

Saving Your Dog’s Boundless Energy


LEM1207jointpain260.jpg
(click on thumbnail for full sized image)
Nevertheless, this brings us to the subject of love. And if you love your dog, you may be sorely aware that its boundless energy is threatened by osteoarthritis (OA), a painful degenerative and inflammatory condition affecting the joints of dogs. So prevalent is OA, that it affects 20% of dogs over 1 year of age, and 90% of dogs over 5 years of age!1 OA is also associated the structural breakdown of articular cartilage, the material that covers the ends of bones in joints. While weight loss and diet in dogs have been shown to be helpful in managing OA, the use of conventional analgesic (painkiller) or anti-inflammatory drugs (such as NSAIDs) is common, despite many side effects. However, natural alternatives have recently become available that work as well or better, especially considering the virtual absence of side effects.

Moreover, a varied assortment of dietary supplements have been found to be scientifically tenable, a growing number of which have been shown to tender significant success in the management of OA in both humans and animals. These include omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, organic acids, and other nutrients.

Benefits for All Breeds and Sizes Dogs

Previous studies support the benefits of green-lipped mussel (GLM) supplementation in the management of inflammation syndrome.2–5 Although GLM is known to contain some anti-inflammatory components and other nutrients that may benefit joint health, its precise mechanisms are unknown.


Veterinarians reported improvements
in arthritic signs in 94% of the dogs
over the 50-day study.


In a more recent internationally-conducted study,6 85 arthritic adult dogs (showing mild to medium OA), of all sizes (from less than 22 lb to more than 100 lb), and 27 different breeds were fed a diet consisting of 0.3% GLM, plus chondroitin, glutamine, methionine), vitamins E and C, and the minerals zinc, copper, and manganese, was applied onto the dog kibbles through a standard batch-coating procedure. The amounts of the other ingredients were not given.

Measuring Mobility Impairments

At beginning of the study each dog was visually scored for mobility impairments as an average of individual scores for lameness in walking, trotting, and climbing stairs. This provided a “visual” score or a baseline. After 50 days, 5 of which were allowed for a switchover from their prior diets, the individual joints (carpus, elbow, shoulder, tarsus, stifle, and hip) of each limb were clinically scored for degree of pain, swelling, crepitus ­(the grating, crackling or popping sounds and sensations experienced under the skin of the joints), and reduction in range of movement. The calculation of these, along with mobility reduction scores, established a “manipulation score.” The summation of all scores constituted a “total arthritic score” for each dog. In addition, dog owners and veterinarian practitioners were invited to grade (from 0 to 4, where 0 = not efficient, 1 = slight efficiency, 2 = medium, 3 = efficient, 4 = very efficient) the perceived efficacy of the GLM-supplemented diet in reducing the arthritic signs compared with baseline.

After 50 days on the GLM-supplemented diet, the “visual score,” ‘‘manipulation score,’’ and “total arthritic score” were significantly reduced, by 36%, 33%, and 34%, respectively, compared with baseline. In 60% of the dogs, the “total arthritic score” decreased by 30%. Veterinarians reported improvements in arthritic signs in 94% of the dogs over the 50-day study. Only 6% of the dogs showed no change or merely a slight increase in their ‘‘total arthritic score” score. Of the individual indexes scored at manipulation, mobility reduction scores and pain scores were significantly reduced, by 16% and 34%, respectively, compared with baseline, after 50 days.

Significant Improvement from Small to Giant Dogs

At the end of the study, small-sized dogs (>22 lb) showed a significant improvement of 57% in their “total arthritic score”. Medium- (22–55 lb) and large-sized dogs (56–100 lb) showed lower, but still significant, improvements in their “total arthritic score” (39% and 35%, respectively), compared with baseline. While giant-sized dogs (>100 lb) showed the lowest increase, it was still significant with improvement of 32%, compared with baseline. Overall, small-sized dogs showed significantly higher improvements in their arthritic scores in comparison to large- and giant-sized dogs, by 63% and 78%, respectively. It has been shown that the most reliable method to assess the arthritic state of an animal is through the completion of a study questionnaire by a person familiar with the animal after receiving appropriate education in its use, a standard adhered to in this study. The findings of this study agree with earlier findings2–5 showing that GLM powder, when mixed into at diet at 0.3% of the composition, can help reduce arthritic signs in dogs within a 6-week period.

Because the study design did not involve a control diet, the placebo effect could not be taken into account. However, GLM efficacy over a control diet has already been demonstrated in previous animal studies.4,7 As well, the researcher’s purpose was to validate, in field conditions and with a large number of arthritic dogs, the efficacy of the GLM-supplemented diet.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Therapy

In another study,8 published in 2007, 35 Golden or Labrador Retrievers and their crosses were included in a randomized, double-blind, positive-controlled, multi-center trial to assess the efficacy of an orally administered glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate (Glu/CS) combination for the treatment of confirmed osteoarthritis of hips or elbows. Carprofen, an NSAID that is used by veterinarians as a supportive treatment for the relief of arthritic symptoms in geriatric dogs, was used as a positive control.


The average improvement in
pain scores at day 70
was comparable for both groups.


Glu ands CS are components of many dietary supplements have have been used successfully for treatment of OA in several species. Glucosamine is an amino-monosaccharide precursor of the disaccharide unit of glycosaminoglycan, which is the building block of proteoglycans, the ground substance of articular cartilage.


Dogs treated with Glu/CS showed
statistically significant improvements
in scores for pain, weight-bearing and
severity of the condition by day 70.


Chondroitin sulfate, a polymer of repeating disaccharide units (galactosamine sulfate and glucuronic acid) is the predominant component of articular cartilage and is a natural component of several other body tissues including tendons, bones and vertebral discs. The combination of Glu/CS has been shown to protect against chemically induced synovitis in dogs,9 to stimulate cartilage metabolism,10 and to inhibit its degradation.10 The combination has also been reported to reduce symptoms of OA in humans, and the clinical signs of OA in horses. Beneficial structure-modifying effects have been demonstrated histologically in experimental models using rabbits, rats and dogs. In addition, Glu/CS is well tolerated when administered to dogs for prolonged periods.

All dogs enrolled in the trial had blood examination and biochemical profile results within reference range, negative fecal occult blood tests, and confirmed radiological evidence of osteoarthritis. They were divided into two groups, one given Glu/CS treatment and the other carprofen. Dogs were re-examined on days 14, 42 and 70 after initiation of treatment. The dose of GLU/CS contained in each gram: glucosamine hydrochloride, 475 mg; chondroitin sulfate, 350 mg; N-acetyl-D-glucosamine 50 mg; ascorbic acid, 50 mg; and zinc sulfate, 30 mg.

There was no significant difference between the treatment and control groups. Significant and strong positive correlations existed between the pre-treatment disease score and the day 70 change in scores for all parameters. This correlation was independent of treatment group, indicating that dogs with higher pre-treatment disease scores tended to have higher, positive changes in scores (i.e., improvement) by day 70 than dogs with lower pre-treatment scores.

Pain, Weight-Bearing and Overall Condition

Dogs in the Glu/CS treatment group were found to demonstrate significant improvements in disease scores at day 70 for pain, weight-bearing, and overall condition compared to pre-treatment scores. Conversely, lameness and joint mobility scores were not significantly better than pre-treatment scores in the Glu/CS treated group.


Death was a possible side effect.


The carprofen treated group improved in all five parameters, although with time-points that were significantly better than the pre-treatment scores varied. Mean reduction in disease score in carprofen-treated dogs was greater than in Glu/CS-treated dogs at day 70 for lameness, joint mobility, weight-bearing, and overall condition scores. The average improvement in pain scores at day 70 was comparable for both groups. The median improvement in score for the Glu/CS group was not significantly less than the carprofen group for any parameter, although significance was approached for lameness and overall condition. Considering that the estimated power of the test, at 0.78 was adequate by convention, the results of Glu/CS therapy at day 70 compared to carprofen therapy at day 70 was found to be equivalent in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip and/or elbow joints in dogs.

Overall Results Comparable

As subjectively assessed by veterinarians, the results of this trial show that dogs with OA had significant improvements in scores for pain, weight-bearing, and overall clinical condition when treated with oral Glu/CS or carprofen for 70 days. Compared to the carprofen-treated dogs, significant improvement occurred later in the course of treatment for the Glu/CS-treated group; day 70 versus day 42 for carprofen for most parameters assessed.

A recognized limitation of this trial is the lack of an objective assessment of the joints. On the down side, two cases of adverse reactions in the Glu/CS group presented as gastrointestinal upsets on days four and nine respectively. One case resolved spontaneously after stopping Glu/CS therapy and the second resolved after ranitidine (a drug used for peptic ulcers) therapy. Both dogs were withdrawn.

Several clinical trials in humans support the use of Glu/CS11 and the action of Glu and CS has been shown to be synergistic in vitro.12 There are few reports of clinical studies in dogs despite widespread use of Glu/CS in this species. However, in a survey of 2524 veterinarians evaluating the perceived clinical efficacy of an oral Glu/CS compound in dogs, 89% and 83% of respondents rated it as ‘‘good/excellent’’ in regards to improved mobility and alleviating pain, respectively.13 Also in experimental studies, in dogs given Glu/CS for 21 days prior to induction of acute synovitis, positive responses were obtained14 as well as in dogs given Glu/CS with manganese with cranial cruciate ligament.15

Improvements May Take Up to 70 Days

In the present study, the noted improvements in pain, weight-bearing, and overall condition scores in the Glu/CS group were not significant until day 70. This slower onset of action of Glu/CS has been reported in human trials and anecdotally in dogs. Thus this study is the first report demonstrating that Glu/CS improves significantly the clinical signs of OA in dogs after 70 days of treatment. Therefore, future clinical trials of Glu/CS should monitor dogs for a minimum period of 70 days.

The Drug Alternatives May Be Deadly

On day 98, the supplement was withdrawn and the dogs were examined. The subjective evaluation was conducted by participating veterinarians who recorded their findings at each visit. Dogs treated with Glu/CS showed statistically significant improvements in scores for pain, weight-bearing, and severity of the condition by day 70. Once again, while the onset of significant response was slower for Glu/CS than for carprofen-treated dogs, the results demonstrate that Glu/CS has a positive clinical effect in dogs with osteoarthritis. Of further interest, Glu/CS is well tolerated when administered to dogs for prolonged periods. To the contrary, carprofen is capable of causing gastrointestinal, liver and kidney problems in some patients. Worse yet, a few years ago, after the FDA received more than 6,000 adverse reaction reports about the drug, the agency requested the manufacturer to advise consumers in their advertising that death was a possible side effect, and the maker has done so.

The Choice for Your Dog is Clear

Especially important to bear in mind is the veterinarians survey, referenced above, showing that Glu and CS therapy for dogs was given high or highest rating by 89% and 83% dog professionals for alleviating pain and improving mobility. And don’t forget the green-lipped mussel therapy in which veterinarians reported improvements in arthritic signs in 94% of the dogs over a shorter period of time. When taken together, it’s great news for dog lovers, and also for the dogs. Woof, woof!

References

  1. Bennett D. Joint disease. In: Chandler EA, Thompson DJ, Sutton JB, Price CJ, editors. Canine medicine and therapeutics. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1991: 249–308.
  2. Bui LM, Bierer RL. Influence of green lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus) in alleviating signs of arthritis in dogs. Vet Ther 2001 Spring;2(2):101-11.
  3. Bierer TL, Bui LM. Improvement of arthritic signs in dogs fed green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus). J Nutr 2002 Jun;132(6 Suppl 2):1634S-6S.
  4. Bui LM, Bierer TL. Influence of green lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus) in alleviating signs of arthritis in dogs. Vet Ther 2003 Winter;4(4):397-407.
  5. Pollard B, Guilford WG, Ankenbauer-Perkins KL, Hedderley D. Clinical efficacy and tolerance of an extract of green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) in dogs presumptively diagnosed with degenerative joint disease. N Z Vet J 2006 Jun;54(3):114-8.
  6. Servet E, Biourge V, Marniquet P. Dietary intervention can improve clinical signs in osteoarthritic dogs. J Nutr 2006 Jul;136(7 Suppl):1995S-1997S.
  7. Rainsford KD, Whitehouse MW. Gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) preparation. Arzneim-Forsch 1980;30:2128–32.
  8. 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.
  9. Canapp SO Jr, McLaughlin RM Jr, Hoskinson JJ, Roush JK, Butine MD. Scintigraphic evaluation of dogs with acute synovitis after treatment with glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate. Am J Vet Res 1999 Dec;60(12):1552-7.
  10. Johnson K., Hulse D, Hart R, Kochevar D, Chu Q. Effects of an orally administered mixture of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and manganese ascorbate on synovial fluid chondroitin 3B3 and 7D4 epitopes in a canine cruciate ligament transection model of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2001Jan;9(1):14–21.
  11. Perea S. Nutritional management of osteoarthritis. Compend Contin Educ Vet 2012;34(5):E1-3.
  12. Lippiello L, Idouraine A, McNamara P, Barr S, McLaughlin R. Cartilage stimulatory and antiproteolytic activity is present in sera of dogs treated with a chondroprotective agent. Canine Practice 1999;24:18–9.
  13. Anderson M, Slater M. Evaluation of clinical efficacy of an oral glucosamine-chondroitin sulfate compound—survey of veterinary practices in the United States (Preliminary findings). In: Proceedings 24th Annual Conference of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society (US) March 1–8, Montana, 1997.
  14. Canapp SO Jr, McLaughlin RM Jr, Hoskinson JJ, Roush JK, Butine MD. Scintigraphic evaluation of dogs with acute synovitis after treatment with glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate. Am J Vet Res 1999 Dec;60(12):1552-7.
  15. Johnson KA, Hulse DA, Hart RC, Kochevar D, Chu Q. Effects of an orally administered mixture of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and manganese ascorbate on synovial fluid chondroitin sulfate 3B3 and 7D4 epitope in a canine cruciate ligament transection model of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2001 Jan;9(1):14-21.


Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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