Supplements and osteoarthritis
Question #68 in the owner’s annual questionnaire is all about dietary supplements. Owners are asked to report if they give any supplements to their dog, and, if yes, which ones.
Using owner responses, we asked Golden Retriever Lifetime Study epidemiologist Dr. Missy Simpson to provide a snapshot of joint supplement use in study dogs. What she found was that at baseline (the first comprehensive questionnaire completed by owners), 14 percent of study participants gave their dogs some sort of joint supplement.
Dietary supplements are big business in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 percent of adults in the United States take supplements and the CDC expects this number to continue growing. A 2012 survey done by the American Pet Products Association reported that 12 percent of dog owners gave their dogs some kind of supplement.
In the APPA survey, joint health supplements were the most common type given to dogs (55 percent of respondents), with a combination of chondroitin and glucosamine the most popular. This combination also is the most reported used by GRLS participants.
Joint supplements have gained popularity as an adjunct or solo therapy in an attempt to prevent or manage osteoarthritis, a type of joint inflammation. Osteoarthritis is reported to affect 20 percent of dogs in their lifetime, and some veterinary scientists feel this number is even higher. Osteoarthritis is a painful, debilitating condition, so trying to find an effective strategy to alleviate discomfort is extremely important. Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs remain the mainstay of therapy for osteoarthritis, they are associated with side effects. Owners often ask their veterinarians for recommendations on supplement alternatives.
We anticipate that other joint conditions, such as cruciate ligament rupture and hip dysplasia will occur as our study population ages, and we expect the number of dogs receiving joint support supplements to increase over time. As new products become available, we also expect shifts in the types of supplements used.
Owner-reported data from the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study provides an important look into the use of dietary supplements in a defined and closely monitored population of dogs. This data could shed light on a poorly studied but growing area of veterinary medicine, giving insights as to what supplements might be effective and when owners might be better off passing that bottle by.
Each month, we explain a few questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire