Have you noticed that your dog is not able to jump into the car or onto the couch? Does he have difficulty with stairs or does not want to finish a walk? Has your cat stopped grooming, especially her back end? Are her nails long and overgrown? All of these symptoms could mean that your pet is experiencing the discomfort of joint disorder. Joint disorder is the #1 chronic condition affecting up to 25% of dogs and 20% of cats. Yet research shows that less than 1 in 7 dogs with joint disease actually receive care. The good news is that there are easy and effective treatment options available, if you do your homework.
When the Healthy Joint Becomes Unhealthy
In healthy conditions, the natural joint building blocks, cartilage and synovial fluid, reduce friction and act as a shock absorber. The body makes these joint building blocks normally by producing glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. These GAGs consist of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. Injury, repeated stress, excess weight, poor diet, and genetic predisposition can contribute to unhealthy joints. In the unhealthy joint, production of these joint building blocks is impaired. The animal's body is unable to keep up with demand for building blocks, resulting in irritation, inflammation, pain, and decreased mobility.
Pet guardians have many options to treat unhealthy joints in their dogs and cats, but they fall primarily into two different categories. There are pharmaceutical, or drug, options and there are natural alternatives. Drug options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which block the production of prostaglandins associated with pain and inflammation; COX-2 inhibitors, which target specific prostaglandins, and Aspirin/Ascriptin®, which reduces pain. These drugs are very good at blocking pain and decreasing inflammation. They do not however add to the body’s joint lubricants or biochemical process. Because of the often unacceptable side effects and inherent mechanisms of NSAIDs, there has been a market push toward natural alternatives.
Natural treatment, uses alone or with a drug option, has demonstrative benefits. The Natural process supplies the body with the joint building blocks- glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. This is what the pet’s body would provide in a healthy situation. Complete Natural Alternatives also provide select ingredients such as herbs to increase circulation, decrease inflammation and slow oxidative damage allowing the body to repair and rebuild the affected joint.
Key Active Ingredients in Natural Treatment Alternatives
- Joint Building Blocks: Glucosamine and Mucopolysaccharides (Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid)
- Anti-inflammatory: Yucca, Devil's Claw, Black Cohosh, Cayenne, MSM
- Anti-oxidant: Turmeric, Ginger, Alfalfa, Vitamin C
- Circulatory stimulant: Nettle, Celery Seed, Ginger
Non-complete vs. Complete Formulas
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives no treatment, recovery is not likely due to continuing pain, swelling and the body's inability to produce enough of the joint building blocks. This will lead to a less comfortable and less active life for the pet.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives an incomplete formula, containing only glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate, repair of the joint is enabled but the recovery of the pet is not optimized, since these ingredients do not address the inflammation and oxidative free radicals.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives a complete formula that combines the joint building blocks with ingredients to decrease inflammation, increase circulation, remove free radicals and enhance absorption, optimal and accelerated recovery will result.
Author: Rebecca Rose, president of In Clover, Inc. Ms. Rose is a biochemist and the developer of animal health products. She is the author of three patents on the composition and method for treating joint disorder in vertebrates. In Clover is the maker of Connectin®, a clinically-tested joint supplement for dog and cats.