As our beloved senior pets advance in years, it can be tough to see them struggle with aches and pains.
To ease those aging pains, many pet owners may choose to give their pets joint supplements as they get older. Or perhaps your veterinarian recommended a joint supplement after diagnosing your pet with arthritis or as a preventative measure in an at-risk breed.
Whatever the reason for your interest in joint supplements for dogs and cats, it’s a good idea to be informed about the most common ingredients.
Glucosamine is one of the most regularly recommended joint supplement ingredients.
Glucosamine is a natural substance found in joints and other parts of the body. As pets age, their bodies produce less glucosamine, which is needed to produce the glycosaminoglycans that help maintain joint health and repair cartilage.
Cartilage damage results in pain and inflammation, so a pet on a glucosamine supplement may experience less discomfort.
Some veterinarians also suggest glucosamine for dogs or cats who are recovering from a joint-related surgery.
The glucosamine included in joint supplements is typically derived from the shells of certain types of shellfish.
Many glucosamine cat or dog supplements are given on a daily basis. These supplements can come in a variety of forms, including pills.
If your pet resists swallowing pills, consider a chewable option, such as NaturVet Glucosamine DS Plus MSM and chondroitin dog and cat soft chews. Another available option for a senior dog supplement is powder form. The Missing Link Ultimate canine hip and joint formula can easily be sprinkled on regular dog food.
Many glucosamine supplements are combined with chondroitin, which is another naturally occurring substance in the body.
Chondroitin restricts the action of harmful enzymes that break down cartilage in the joint and supports fluid retention in cartilage. This helps improve an animal’s mobility and flexibility.
Most chondroitin supplements are made from the cartilage of other animals, such as cattle.
Since glucosamine and chondroitin have a positive, synergistic effect when combined, look for products that contain both ingredients, like Dr. Lyon’s advanced strength hip and joint chewable tablets.
For cats, an option like Nutramax Cosequin joint health soft chews features chondroitin, glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all beneficial ingredients.
MSM is another naturally occurring substance that is regularly combined with both glucosamine and chondroitin in joint supplements for senior cats and dogs.
In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, this sulfur compound supports connective tissue. Although it is produced in the body and present in many foods, a pet’s MSM level gradually declines with age.
K9Power Young At Heart nutritional senior dog supplement contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM for dogs. For a cat-friendly option, try GNC Pets Ultra Mega hip and joint health cat supplement.
While they may sound like a strange choice, green-lipped mussels are a popular joint supplement for dogs and cats. Originating in New Zealand, these mussels contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin and glycosaminoglycans.
Together, the compounds in green-lipped mussels may help protect and repair cartilage, lubricate joints, reduce inflammation and relieve pain. As with many cat and dog joint supplements, it often takes a few weeks for the benefits to become fully evident.
Super Snouts Joint Power green-lipped mussel dog and cat supplement is a 100 percent pure powder made from green-lipped mussels. For cats who prefer a chewable treat, there’s the VetriScience GlycoFlex Stage II moderate strength joint support cat chews.
Naturally occurring hyaluronic acid is responsible for the sticky consistency of joint fluid. Since it retains water, this acid promotes lubrication and strengthens connective tissue while also decreasing joint inflammation, all of which makes it easier for pets to stay comfortably active.
Hyaluronic acid for dogs comes in an oral or injectable form. The Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus MSM and hyaluronic acid (HA) joint health dog supplement combines hyaluronic acid with other healing compounds.
For cats, try a product like the Liquid Health Pets Joint Purr-Fection cat supplement, which comes in a beef flavor. You can offer this liquid on its own or mixed in wet cat food.
Ask Your Veterinarian About the Best Senior Pet Supplement for Your Pet
As always, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s healthcare program. You will also be able to obtain more specialized guidance as to which supplement for senior cats and dogs is likely to be most effective for your particular pet.
In some cases, it can take a little trial and error before finding the right product.
By: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Featured Image: iStock.com/Jevtic