The true medical value of supplements have long been up for debate. Can taking such and such supplement really benefit health? If so, how much of an impact does it have? And in what other ways might it affect the body?
Questions such as these are commonly posed because, frankly, there are a lot of doubts when it comes to the actual benefit of most supplements. Even when helpful, the most effective dosage is often unclear, and interactions with other drugs and supplements need to be taken into consideration.
Dietary supplements are meant to provide dogs with essential nutrients they are missing out on. This suggests that dogs on well-balanced diets should rarely, if ever, be taking supplements. Why? Because taking improper amounts of certain supplements is likely to create an imbalance in the body and possibly even cause more health issues than they help.
Although many joint supplements may appear to be effective in the short term, their use centers on managing symptoms, as opposed to hip dysplasia as a whole. Minimizing harmful symptoms can be a good thing, but when dealing with health, it is critical to examine the big picture, that is, the body as a whole. Improving the state of one symptom could, conceivably, slow the improvement of another.
Supplements could end up doing more harm than good when given inappropriately. Some of them are marketed incorrectly and a few of them are just too expensive. To top it all off, there is currently no conclusive evidence that a particular supplement can reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs.
With all that being said, there are a number of supplements that have shown potential to help not only ameliorate symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs, but also improve joint healing. Supplements have been reported to benefit cartilage production and lubrication as well as help defend against oxidative stress. Moreover, organic supplements, when taken in proper doses, have very few adverse side effects.
Most of the supplements are drawn from natural sources, although some are commercially produced. Almost all are easy to find. Dog owners should always consult a veterinarian when considering supplementation for dogs with hip dysplasia.
Organic Supplements for Canine Hip Dysplasia
The majority of supplements taken for canine hip dysplasia serve one of two purposes, if not both:
- Supporting cartilage production and lubrication
- Fighting oxidative stress
Bone broth is a great place to start for first time supplementation or for dog owners who are hesitant about medicating their pets. It is believed to contain a plethora of bioactive ingredients that can improve joint health. Collectively, these molecules promote both cartilage production and antioxidation.
Bone broth is brimming with glycosaminoglycans, like glucosamine, that are said to nourish joint cartilage and increase the lubricating fluid necessary for healthy joint movement. It also carries tons of supposedly joint protecting compounds, like hyaluronic acid, that are also present in other cartilage-based supplements, including shark and bovine cartilage.
Preparation of bone broth is as simple as boiling bones with cartilage in water for about a day and then taking out the bones. Adding vinegar or lemon juice can help extract the ingredients. And any residual fat that rises to the surface of the liquid can be taken out. A ¼ cup serving is a good place to start. Knox gelatin has a similar effect on joint health and is widely available in stores.
A ton of plants, herbs, and spices have shown antioxidant properties, too. By minimizing oxidative stress, these herbs can not only help reduce joint damage from inflammation, but also help reduce any associated pain and discomfort. Yucca, boswellia, comfrey, turmeric, garlic, alfalfa, and primrose oil are a few of the common choices.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Canine Hip Dysplasia
Many of the previously mentioned organic supplements contain a fair share of glycosaminoglycans that may promote joint cartilage health. Glucosamine is often viewed as the primary ingredient responsible for maintaining joint integrity and protecting them from harm.
Another major bioactive ingredient that may benefit cartilage formation and lubrication is chondroitin. It focuses on providing all of the necessary tools to chondrocytes—cartilage and bone-forming cells— to produce cartilage and repair minor damage. By sustaining healthy cartilage, chondroitin can fundamentally help reduce joint pain.
Glucosamine and chondroitin can be taken orally or injected in a series of shots given over the course of several weeks. Chews might be easier to swallow, but the more expensive injections have shown very favorable results. Both tend to take more than six weeks just to start showing signs of improvement.
Vitamins and Minerals for Canine Hip Dysplasia
Vitamin C has seen a surge in popularity due to recent studies linking it to a decrease in the development of various diseases. It has the dual advantage of working as an antioxidant and serving a role in the synthesis of cartilage and collagen, which is crucial for joint stability. Moreover, it is water-soluble and extremely unlikely to have any toxic effects.
Dogs, unlike people, produce their own supply of vitamin C. So supplementation with the vitamin only seems to make sense in canine hip dysplasia when a dog has another issue that prevents them from making enough.
The food-based supplement Nu-Pet in the form of wafers has been used a lot to promote antioxidation. Nutriflex and Megaflex are Rx Vitamins that are commonly added to diets when dogs lack vitamins. Trace Animinerals provides trace minerals. And Antiox is a newer anti-oxidative supplement extracted from grape seeds.