I got a lot of responses from my recent article on pet arthritis. Clearly I hit a chord! I received some questions and comments that I wish to share.

Diets that already contain supplements: Some “joint” or “mobility” foods have glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids already in them. If you are the type who just doesn’t want to add fish oil to your pet’s food, or if your pet dislikes taking pills or chews, this may be a good option for you.

I have my doubts that all pet food brands touting joint care will have adequate amounts of glucosamine, unless they are a prescription veterinary food, but this would be a great conversation starter with your veterinarian! Take in the pet food label and ask your vet to assess it. Be sure to check out the fat content if your sweetie is plump. Obesity is the enemy of arthritis.

There are several very tasty glucosamine products. Your pet may be blissfully unaware that the goodies you are giving may help alleviate joint pain. I do ask that you verify that any supplements you give are made in the USA. Some treats made outside of the United States have been shown to cause kidney disease in dogs. I treated such a patient last year.

The FDA recently sent out a bulletin that the count is up to 3,000 illnesses (including 580 deaths) since the first report in 2007. Read the pet food or treat bag and verify that all of the ingredients are made right here in our own country. Until and unless they identify this unknown chemical that results in GI upset and Fanconi’s syndrome (a type of kidney disease), it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Fish oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects. I recommend salmon oil to all my pet arthritis patients. If you are feeding a salmon or fish based diet, you may not need to supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids. Again, chat with your family veterinarian.

Regular controlled exercise is not only good for weight management, but it also maintains muscle mass – which supports those perhaps painful joints. Folks who stop taking their arthritic dog for a walk (even short walks around and around the same city block until fluffy grows tired) may see a quick decline in quality of life. I’m a big fan of swimming. Yeah, you say, easy for this vet in sunny South Florida to tell me to take my dog swimming in the wintertime! Nonetheless, water supported exercise can be great! Heck, even if you have a little dog who likes to swim in a hot tub it may not matter how cold it is outside. Of course you would need to turn down the temperature and you may argue with your spouse regarding dog hair in the filter. Lakes, pools with sloped entries, or underwater treadmills all would be fantastic options.

Finally, depending on where you live, you may be able to find a vet clinic or veterinary rehab facility with an underwater treadmill or therapeutic laser. And of course there are the analgesic medications we discussed in the last article on arthritis.

I enjoy interacting with our readers. Feel free to contact me at Joi.SuttonDVM@adwdiabetes.com.


NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work and is the President and Founder of Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton