Both small and large breed dogs are at risk for suffering from joint pain at some point in their lives. Whether your dog tears his cruciate ligament, sprains his wrist or suffers from degenerative joint disease, proper nutrition can help to support his joint health.
Herbs and homeopathic remedies can be quite effective for reducing pain and inflammation, strengthening connective tissue and promoting tissue repair. Nutritional supplements can also help in much the same way.
The goals of nutritional support are to:
- Promote healthy and functional connective tissue
- Provide building blocks for collagen synthesis
- Control inflammation and pain
- Supply antioxidants
- Prevent osteoarthritis
Here are some nutritional powerhouses you can consider for your dog’s aches and pains.
- Ascorbic acid (a kind of Vitamin C) is necessary for collagen synthesis and is an antioxidant.
- Mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) stabilize cell membranes, stimulate deposition of proteoglycan, modulate the inflammatory phase of osteoarthritis and are an antioxidant.
- Vitamins B1 and B6 are required for collagen synthesis.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. fish oil) are anti-inflammatory. They can also help regulate the cells in cartilage and may help protect against cartilage degradation.
- Glycosaminoglycans have anti-inflammatory properties and are needed for proteoglycan synthesis and collagen formation.
- Chondroitin sulfate is anti-inflammatory and stimulates glycosaminoglycans and collagen synthesis.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a source of sulfur which is required for collagen synthesis. It may inhibit pain impulses that travel along nerve fibers, acting as an analgesic, and has anti-inflammatory effects and helps reduce muscle spasm.
- Bioflavanoids (flavones, flavanoids, quercetin, rutin, procyanidins) found in colorful vegetables, fruits and green tea have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They have been shown to inhibit inflammatory and damaging enzymes.
Important Amino Acids
- Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid and is important in the maintenance of cartilage, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans.
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is synthesized from methionine and has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and assists in proteoglycan synthesis by providing sulphur molecules.
- Glutamine plays a key role in glycoseaminoglycans synthesis, and helps incorporate sulfur into the joint cartilage.
- L-proline makes up 33% of collagen.
- L-cysteine is needed for connective tissue healing.
- L-valine, L-alanine and L-isoleucine are involved in collagen synthesis.
Important Minerals and Elements
- Manganese is an essential cofactor in the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and is involved in the synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans to form the organic matrix of bone.
- Magnesium is required for collagen synthesis.
- Sulfur is necessary to make collagen.
- Selenium with fish oil (Omega-3) intake may reduce inflammation in the joint, which may benefit osteoarthritis; it is also an antioxidant.
- Iron, Copper and Zinc are involved in collagen synthesis.
- Calcium is needed for some enzymes to work and necessary for muscle contractions.
It’s important to try to find whole food sources of the above nutrients as the synthetic chemical form won’t be as predictable in it’s action. Synthetic vitamins and supplements are also treated like drugs by the liver and, like drugs, can cause liver toxicity over time.
If your dog suffers from a sports injury or chronic joint pain, take a look at his diet and see what you can add to increase his joint health.