Nutritional Approach to Canine Osteoarthritis


Canine OA is a common cause of joint failure with stiffness, loss of mobility, and varying degrees of inflammation and pain. Degenerative joint disease (DJD) also known as osteoarthritis (OA), or simply arthritis is a debilitating disorder affecting a wide range of animal species and humans.
What is Canine OA?
Osteoarthritis is the disease of synovial joint with the  involvement of synovial cavity and articular cartilage which covers the bone. It is associated with pain, lameness and discomfort to the dog.
The most critical part of the joint is synovial membrane which has got synoviocytes that secretes synovial fluid, and articular cartilage which covers the bone and consists of chondrocytes and matrix. Viscosity of the synovial fluid is important for sustaining and maintaining the joint. Articular cartilage and synovial fluid both are live tissues and are in the dynamic state.
Osteoarthritis can be a result of trauma followed by infection.
The beginning stages of OA are not readily apparent; but, once the deterioration has reached the synovial membrane and/or the bone beneath joint cartilage, painful inflammation begins. The first visible sign of osteoarthritis pain may come in the form of a limp, sensitivity to touch in a certain area (for example, along the spine); a decrease in activity; stiffness (especially after rest); difficulty getting up, lying down, or climbing stairs, or an inability to jump.
Joint Supplements and how they work
Doctors generally follow the multimodal treatment, thus starting from diet management to reduce weight, physiotherapy,
anti-inflammatory drugs along with NSAID and antibiotics. While the multimodal treatment has got definite role in managing the lifestyle of the dog, long run use of NSAID and antibiotics has its own pit falls. Here comes the requirement of nutritional supplements which can help in managing the joint and reducing dependence on NSAID and other drugs. As a pet parent, one can always look for the following in nutritional supplements:
Glucosamine HCL or Glucosamine Sulphate: Glucosamine is an amino monosaccharide unit of glycosaminoglycan, which is the building block of the cartilage matrix seen within joints. It is the raw material for making GAG. The actual chemical makeup of glucosamine accounts for its favorable absorption through the gastrointestinal tract and favorable cartilage reaction. It can be added as a chemical molecule or even as part of shell fish or any marine source. Glucosamine HCL is a smaller molecule so bioavailability is more.
Chondroitin Sulphate: Is GAG  (Glycosaminoglycans) used for articular cartilage synthesis? All GAGs not only provide the raw material for production of articular cartilage but also play a role as analgesic and anti-inflammatory, thus reducing the dependence
The efficacy of the raw material is dependent on the purity or the grade of the raw material. Some of the companies use human grade raw material for early and sustained efficacy.
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Combination
When given in combination, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate reportedly support cartilage production and protect existing cartilage by inhibiting enzymes in the joints that break down cartilage. Glucosamine also works as raw material for chondroitin synthesis in the body.
Methylsulphonylmethane (MSM)
A source of organic sulphur in a form the body can readily use, MSM is also thought to have some anti-inflammatory and pain reducing actions. It is thought to help maintain flexibility of ligaments.
Dimethyl Glycine (DMG) is a molecule which is very important for early recovery of the joint. It works as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, metabolic enhancer, promotes immunity, improves cardiovascular function; thus helping the joint to recover fast from injury or osteoarthritis. Manganese Amino Acid chelate has got a possible role in prevention of osteoporosis, collagen formation, synthesis of GAG, thus helpful in supporting treatment of osteoarthritis. All these molecules help in supporting the treatment of arthritis, osteoarthritis, hip dysplacia, following joint surgery, cruciate ligment injury, joint pain, vertebral disc conditions and other associated conditions. These are effective in dogs of all breeds and ages.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Specific Omega-3 fatty acids, known as Poly unsaturated fatty acids, are often recommended in pets because they have far-reaching benefits in the body. These fatty acids are very well known for protecting heart health but also support the brain/nervous system, the kidneys, skin health, the immune system, and the joints, especially beneficial in performance dogs. It is available in Green lipped mussel. Nutritional management of osteoarthritis is very important for early recovery and lifestyle management of affected dogs, hence strongly recommended.
– By Col Virendra Kumar MSD Animal Health