We all hate to see our animals struggle with mobility as they begin to age. Watching them hesitate to run down the stairs to greet you or go out for a walk on a cold day is saddening and we want them to be able to get the most out of their time.  I came across some interesting information on supplements recently,so I summarized it in hopes that it will be helpful to you.  Of course, consult with your vet before you start anything new!

1. Glucosamine & Chondroitin
We have all heard of these and they’ve been around for a long time.  Glucosamine and chondroitin are absorbed into the cartilage padding around joints where they are converted into proteoglycans, which keep joints lubricated. Glucosamine and chondroitin are produced by the body, but as our pet’s joints wear down over time, supplementing can give their bodies a boost.  Raw bones are a good natural source of both glucosamine and chondroitin.
2. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is related to the Glucosamine and Chondroitin and it is needed for both connective and neural tissues.  As a supplement it is fairly new, but seems to help not only to lubricate the joints but to lessen inflammation. Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally in organ meats and foods that are high in Vitamin A.
3. SAMe 
SAMe helps lessen the pain and stiffness of arthritis. It also supports the liver, which some of the other supplements can put stress on. It is generally thought that SAMe should be used together with B vitamins.
4. L-Glutamine
L-Glutamine seems to work several angles at once.  It is an amino acid that helps build joint tissue but it also seems to slow down the muscle loss and lessen the pain of arthritis.
Remember in high-school biology learning how enzymes are catalysts for processes that break up protein chains and make them into other stuff the body needs?  Like healthy new joint tissue! Enzymes are gotten naturally from raw foods, but packaged supplements are available too. If your pet is on a processed dog food they probably are not getting all the different enzymes they need for peak performance.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is an important part of the cartilage and ligament tissue.  The proper dosage of vitamin C required varies with each dog so make sure you talk to your vet about what level to start out at. Most dogs will take somewhere between 500 and 2000 mg per day. If you overdo it you can cause them not only diarrhea, but painful urinary stones that sometimes require surgery, so again, be on board with your vet.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D promotes bone health by helping rebuild cartilage and connective tissue. The body naturally makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so many dogs get enough, but if your pet is a little sunlight-starved you can add a little man-made D to their diet.  Also, sardines packed in water are a source of vitamin D, which is especially great for those of you looking into the raw diet.
DL-phenylalanine is an amino acid used in the treatment of both depression and chronic pain. It works by slowing the body’s metabolizing of pain-reducing hormones so that the body’s natural response lasts longer. DLPA might be an alternative for your dog to things like Rimadyl and NSAIDS which work wonders but may put stress on the liver.
9. Herbs
Herbs traditionally used to ease arthritis include yucca root, nettle leaves, turmeric, licorice, devil’s claw and dandelion root.  You may need to seek out a specialist to help with this one though, herbal remedies are medicine too, but most vets are not going to be familiar with this type of treatment. Do not try to do herbal remedies without professional guidance.

Also keep in mind that extra pounds on your dog add to the existing joint damage and pain.  Keeping their diet healthy and light, and allowing them slow, steady exercise like swimming and moderate walks goes a long way!

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