I see hip dysplasia in my veterinary practice on an almost daily basis. Dog parents are always asking what they can do to help their older dog feel better. One of the first treatments I will suggest in a newly-diagnosed patient for hip dysplasia is adding specific supplements to get them more comfortable and preserve their joints for as long as possible.
Over-the-counter supplements are seen as being more safe and less expensive than prescription medications. That is true, but they are not always effective. It’s very important to talk to your veterinarian about what they recommend as they should be your partner in helping your dog to live its best life.
What Are The Different Types Of Supplements Used For Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?
- Joint Protective Substances
- Natural Anti-inflammatories
- Fish Oils
Joint Protective Substances
These are the most commonly used (and most widely known) supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are incredibly safe and the only side effect I’ve ever seen or heard of was some mild vomiting.
There are a multitude of ongoing studies trying to determine for sure if these substances actually help in dogs, but they are thought to stimulate synthesis of synovial fluid, inhibit degradation, and improve healing of articular cartilage.
For this reason, any dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia should start on a joint supplement right away. The following are my preferred joint supplements based on my clients’ opinions and my professional experience.
Another substance that isn’t used as much (but probably should be) is called Adequan and it’s also extremely safe. It’s a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG) known to inhibit cartilage degradation inside joints. It works best when there’s active inflammation present so using it as a preventative is not recommended.
Rather, I recommend Adequan when the affected dog is seen to have difficultly in moving despite being on other therapies such as anti-inflammatories. While glucosamine is given as an oral supplement, Adequan is delivered into the body via an injection into a muscle.
Adequan can also be expensive if you are having your veterinarian administer it each time. As the treatment regimen is generally 2 injections per week for 4 weeks initially, if your veterinarian is willing to teach you how to give the injections you can save a lot of money.
While we make consider Adequan a supplement, it actually still requires a prescription from your vet. Shop around online to find the best price. If you’re squeamish about giving injections, talk to your vet about buying the medicine yourself and then having them give it. That will still be cheaper than just having your vet do it all themselves.
Most people won’t include CBD as a natural anti-inflammatory but I believe it belongs here. Cannabinoids (CBD) are not only found in nature, but dogs (just like humans) have special receptors in their body made specifically for cannabinoids.
These receptors are found all over the body including in the brain, peripheral nervous system, and even in the synovium (joint tissue). As such, CBD can be used to block both inflammation and pain
Just a few years ago, discussing CBD with dog owners provoked a lot of jokes about pot-smoking dogs from some clients and quizzical looks from others. These days many people have heard of the powers of CBD.
There are a number of studies that have been conducted looking at the use of CBD to help with the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Some of these studies have been equivocal (meaning it wasn’t obvious if CBD helped) and some studies have shown a benefit.
It’s so very early in our investigation of CBD that concrete proof will be tough to find for a while. However, I’ve had dozens of patients on CBD over the past 4-5 years and many of their owners reported an improvement with appetite, activity, and happiness after getting on CBD.
My preferred CBD manufacturer (and what I use in my own hospital and for my own pets) is from PetReleaf.
I could have included this in the natural anti-inflammatory section but I wanted to put it by itself. When we discuss “fish oils,” we are really talking about omega-3 fatty acids.
We know that fish oils help in reducing inflammation in joints and there are studies showing that dogs receiving an anti-inflammatory medication were able to reduce their dosage when they were also supplemented with fish oils.
What To Do When Joint Supplements Aren’t Enough
So you’ve been giving your dog fish oils, a glucosamine supplement, and maybe even tried some CBD or a series of Adequan injections and still your dog is struggling getting up and moving around. What next?
- If you’ve been against using a prescription anti-inflammatory, you need to re-examine your objections. There is no breed predisposition towards side effects. In fact, in 20 years of practice and prescribing these drugs multiple times a day, I’ve only seen serious side effects (enough to cause hospitalization) in two patients. They both received appropriate treatment and went back home.
- How overweight is your dog? Just like in people, the more you weight, the more your joints will hurt when they have arthritis. I’ve seen dogs who lost 10 lbs and seemed to not need anti-inflammatories anymore. That’s how much better they felt and it was reflected in their ability to get up and play.
- How active is your dog? If you’ve been restricting activity thinking your don’t want your dog to hurt, then you likely have inadvertently caused muscle weakness and atrophy. Going on daily walks, an occasional trip to the dog park, or even introducing them to a swimming pool can make a big difference in your dog’s ability to get up and move.
- A veterinarian-supervised physical therapy program can be beneficial to show owners a myriad of options when it comes to exercise and keeping their dogs strong.
- PRP Injections are a newer therapy in which platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) is injected into a dog’s affected joint(s).
- While expensive, a total hip replacement (THR) or femoral head ostectomy (FHO) can make a remarkable improvement in your dog’s life. Even just having one good leg can be the difference in your dog living happily.
- Acupuncture can be effective in some dogs.
- Diet can also be beneficial. While many diets may boast of having glucosamine and other joint-protective substances in it, it is never the recommended dosage of these substances. The only diet out there that actually helps with joint care is J/D from Hills.
Last update on 2022-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API