It’s a fact … NSAIDs can really hurt your dog. They can cause ulcers, liver and kidney damage … and even damage your dog’s joint and soft tissues.
NSAIDs do reduce pain and inflammation … but do you really want to wait until your dog gets liver or kidney disease from his meds?
So scientists have been looking to help dogs (and people) with arthritis pain without the harmful side effects.
Enter green lipped mussels for dogs …
Scientists are studying green lipped mussels as a safe and effective alternative for dogs who can’t take NSAIDs.
Green lipped mussels can provide joint support like NSAIDs (also known as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) …without the harmful side effects.
So let’s take a look at how green lipped mussels can help your dog … and how to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. Because not all green lipped mussel powders are the same …
What Are Green Lipped Mussels?
The green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is native to the New Zealand coast. It has a bright green stripe around its shell and a distinctive green lip on the inside of the shell.
Green lipped mussels have always been used by the Maori, a Polynesian people in New Zealand. And scientists soon noticed that the Maori people living on the coast had much lower rates of arthritis compared to inland Maori people.
But what’s inside green lipped mussels that make them a natural anti-inflammatory?
The Anti-Inflammatory Benefits Of Green Lipped Mussels For Dogs
You might be wondering, how can green lipped mussels replace expensive, scientifically-proven NSAIDs?
In fact, they work exactly the same way …
NSAIDs are COX inhibitors. This means they prevent an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) from making hormone-like chemicals (called prostaglandins). Prostaglandins ramp up inflammation in the body.
Green lipped mussels are also COX inhibitors … so they offer the same anti-inflammatory benefits. But green lipped mussels differ from NSAIDs in two important ways:
1. NSAIDs can cause health issues because COX enzymes protect the liver and gut lining. Inhibiting these enzymes destroys the stomach lining and harms liver cells. But unlike NSAIDs, green lipped mussels also contain LOX (lipoxygenase) inhibitors. These enzymes protect the stomach lining and liver from harm.
2. Unlike NSAIDs, green lipped mussels do much more than just decrease inflammation. They can help build healthier joints in your dog.
Here’s how …
Mussels Build Healthy Joints
Green lipped mussels are rich in glycosaminoglycans (or GAGs). An important GAG found in green lipped mussels is chondroitin sulfate. And this is an important supplement for dogs with arthritis pain.
Your dog’s joints are enclosed in a capsule. This capsule is like a water balloon and it changes in pressure to help your dog’s joints absorb shock. This protects the joints from war and tear.
Chondroitin strengthens your dog’s joint capsules … and this allows them to hold more water. More water means more shock absorption … leading to less wear and tear on the joints. Plus, research shows green lipped mussels keep delivering these joint health benefits …even a full month after you stop giving them to your dog.
With that said, green lipped mussels can take a little longer to work in your dog compared to NSAIDs. But it’s worth the wait when you consider how much safer they are.
But that’s not the only benefit of green lipped mussels compared to NSAIDs …
NSAIDs destroy joint cartilage. This articular cartilage is important … it gives extra shock absorbing cushion to the ends of long bones. It also nourishes the joint and the joint capsule.
If the articular cartilage becomes damaged, you’ll see the classic signs of arthritis … instead of nice smooth bony ends, they’ll become jagged. These jagged ends can do even more damage to the joint … and it becomes an endless cycle of pain and inflammation.
Unlike NSAIDs, green lipped mussels build healthy cartilage.
Now there’s one more difference between green lipped mussels and NSAIDs … and it has to do with special fats found in the mussels.
Fatty Acids Are Important For Your Dog
Early research on green lipped mussels was disappointing. The results were pretty poor. But the mussels used in those early studies were the rejected meat left over from processing. It was then steamed and made into a supplement … not a very good one.
But in the 80’s things changed … scientists started freeze drying the mussels. And they took another look. And this time around, the results were much more exciting! I’ll get to those results in just a bit … but I want to discuss the importance of how the mussel is processed first.
The reason scientists initially saw poor results was because the mussels were missing an important nutrient after processing … omega-3 fatty acids.
Once scientists started using green lipped mussels with the omega-3 fats intact, they noted the mussels were much more effective. So their fatty acids are key the green lipped mussel’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Green lipped mussels are naturally rich in fatty acids. In fact, there are 90 different fatty acids in green lipped mussels! But the most abundant are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid). These are two important fatty acids that are known to reduce inflammation.
Of course, EPA and DHA are found in fish and marine oils … but unlike fish oils, growing and harvesting green lipped mussels is ocean friendly. They’re a sustainable source of fatty acids too.
Now here’s the kicker …
Not all green lipped mussel powders contain those fatty acids … so make sure you ask for a nutritional analysis. The green lipped mussels should contain at least 6% fatty acids. Without these critical fats, your dog’s green lipped mussels will be virtually useless.
Green lipped mussels are also rich in vitamins and minerals. And freeze drying them ensures those important micronutrients remain intact.
Next, let’s see how well they work for dogs.
Do Green Lipped Mussels Work In Dogs?
A 2009 study looked at how well green lipped mussel worked in dogs with moderate to severe arthritis.
The dogs were given green lipped mussel for 8 weeks and evaluated at 4, 8 and 12 weeks. The initial dose was 20 to 49mg/kg/day and this was reduced to a half dose after 10 days.
The green lipped mussels used in the trial averaged 5.9 to 9.3% fat. Remember … when green lipped mussels don’t come with their fat, they’re unlikely to help with arthritis.
The dogs given the green lipped mussel had a significant improvement in pain and mobility compared to the placebo group. And nearly 3/4 of the dogs taking green lipped mussels didn’t need additional pain meds.
And even though the dogs stopped receiving the green lipped mussels at 8 weeks, the improvements in pain and mobility were still there at 12 weeks.
This isn’t the first study showing the benefits of green lipped mussels for dogs. This study showed a significant improvement in arthritis too. A second study was poorly controlled and the dogs in the placebo group were also given other nutraceuticals. And a third study didn’t show much of a change … but this isn’t surprising as they were using only 1/4 the amount of green lipped mussel.
In all three studies, there were no negative side effects in the dogs taking green lipped mussel.
How Much Green Lipped Mussel Should Dogs Get?
The good news is, researchers have established a safe and effective dose in dogs. In general, you’ll want to give your dog 20 to 49mg/kg of green lipped mussels daily. Then after ten days, reduce this to a half dose.
So the dose of green lipped mussel for dogs by weight is:
- 0-10 pounds: 200mg
- 11-25 pounds: 400mg
- 26-50 pounds: 800mg
- 51-75 pounds: 1,200mg
- 76+ pounds: 2,400mg
Remember, you’ll also want to request a nutritional analysis of your dog’s green lipped mussels … because you want to see at least 6% fat content. Anything less and your dog likely won’t get much benefit.
You might also see green lipped mussel products in a water base. These products won’t be as effective either because the fatty acids will be missing.
So green lipped mussels and supplements that contain them are a great way to both prevent and manage arthritis in dogs. Unlike NSAIDs, they take a few days to work. But you can also give your dog CBD (full spectrum hemp) oil for pain. After the initial 10 days, most dogs do well without any need for pain control.
It’s time to get back to nature and stop the unwanted side effects from drugs. And for dogs with joint pain, green lipped mussels are a great start!