The Basics of Joint Health in Pets
When you hear the words “arthritis” or “joint health supplements”, a lot of people tend to think of senior pets. But did you know it is actually much easier to prevent joint degradation before it occurs rather than trying to build it back up? Since pets are limited in their communication, a lot of the time we only know something is wrong when it’s gotten pretty bad. So don’t wait until your furry child’s mobility is affected to start them on a joint health regime, the time to act is sooner than you might think!
How Early Is Too Early?
With certain breeds, some vets actually recommend starting as early as one year when the puppy has fully matured and is no longer growing. This concerns breeds that are prone to hip, knee, and elbow dysplasia e.g. Daschunds, Labs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus in dogs or Maine Coons and Persians for cats. If you’re not sure if your dog or cat is susceptible to joint issues, do your research and talk to your vet. For most other pets, sometime before they reach what is considered to be senior (about 7 years of age) seems to be a good bet. For example, our resident cat expert started her cat Jazz on joint supplements at the age of 6 and 4 years later at the age of 10 he is still literally jumping off the walls!
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
So what exactly is glucosamine? Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has even been shown to aid in the regeneration of cartilage. Glucosamine is actually one of the building blocks of chondroitin, as well, but they serve slightly different functions. While they are both vital for cartilage production, glucosamine is also found in the fluid that lubricates the joints. Chondroitin, on the other hand, helps the cartilage absorb the fluid and has enzymes that aid in the prevention of degradation. Because of this, many joint supplements incorporate both to maximize the strengthening of joints.
Joint Health Products
There exist quite a few products on the market for joints. Finding what works best for your pet will depend on a few different factors. Ark Naturals makes a product called Joint Rescue which come in tablet form coated in chicken liver powder; these work great for bigger dogs who aren’t so picky. They also have a chewy treat Sea “Mobility” version that come in a variety of flavors such as beef, lamb, or venison which are free of wheat, corn, or artificial flavors; perfect for smaller, pickier pets. Bravo! has a line of all natural Beef Trachea that comes in different sizes. Beef trachea are actually naturally high in both glucosamine and chondroitin, and are a much healthier alternative to raw hides – which are just essentially bleached leather with hardly and nutritional content. It’s also good for dental health! And our personal favorite which our cat lady has given her cats for the last 4 years is the Grizzly Salmon Oil. On kibble, it can increase the palatability, or it can also be added to their wet food. The reason we love it so much is because in addition to the glucosamine and chondroitin, it is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 which are good for brain function, heart function, skin and coat. An extra soft coat is how you know the product is working, and you might even notice less shedding!
So, in conclusion, if you have a pure bred dog known to be prone to joint problems, get them started on joint health products early on. For most other pets, getting them started before they hit senior age is the best bet. Glucosamine and chondroitin are the active ingredients to look for and should preferably be present together in the same supplement. Make sure to always keep plenty of water around as water helps activate the glucosamine and chondroitin and will help it work more effectively. With the plentiful options there are out there, there is sure to be something just right for your pet.