Thursday, October 13, 2011

Canine Arthritis: Symptoms, Tips, Supplement Information and a Giveaway

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© Carrie Boyko
Jumping Activities
 are Tough on Big Dog's Hips

© Carrie Boyko
Fetching Fun
Adds Brain Work to Swimming
A few months ago I began to look ahead, thinking of the health issues that could be a part of Tanner and Oliver's future. Reading about arthritis opened up a whole world of possibilities, most linked back to the use of a now commonly-used supplement combination, Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM. I wanted a simple-to-understand dosage plan in layman's terms that could be modified to meet both Tanner and Oliver's requirements. Obviously, with my two dogs at such diverse sizes, breeds and activities, I recognized the need to come up with an appropriate dosage for each dog when I feel it is time to begin proactive measures.

Prior to our experiment, I poked around on the Internet looking for suggested dosages. I was eager to compare to the prescribed amount on the GNC bottle.  The Internet is replete with all manner of brand names of glucosamine/chondroitin supplements. Many include MSM, while others do not. Well documented books on human use of this supplement, such as The Arthritis Cure, have been around for years and a growing number of veterinarians have supported its use for sometime. One of the authors of the orginal version of this NY Times bestseller, Brenda Adderly, also co-authored The Arthritis Cure for Pets. My husband's experience with this supplement has been successful, so we're diving in to see what we can do provide Oliver and Tanner a long and pain-free life of full activity.

© Carrie Boyko
Flexible Hips=Healthy Hips
Our goal? Knowing that flexibility is one of the signs of a healthy joint, I'd like to maintain this in my pups. The benchmark is shown in some of these photos where you can see my Fido's apparent comfort in lying on the floor sprawled like a yoga master. 

Tanner's fifth birthday arrived this summer and with it his usual trip to the vet for a preventive care checkup. I asked when is too early to begin supplementation so as not to leave anything to chance.  Much to my surprise, this question brought on a great discussion about other preventive measures. Although none of these tips were new information to me, I felt they might be helpful to share here. Certainly these are pertinent to this product profile. Here are some tips shared with me:
© Carrie Boyko
Swimming: Easy on Joints
  • As your dog ages, begin to move gradually toward less impacting activities, and more that place no strain on the joints--swimming is perfect. Tanner has no complaints over this guideline.
  • Maintain a daily regimen of walking to keep the joints producing their natural lubrication that comes from movement. This is excellent protection again worsening joint issues, and what dog doesn't want to get outside and smell the bushes?
  • Providing supportive, yet soft bedding in all your dog's favorite places to rest allows him to watch the view and remain comfortable.
  • Encourage stretching and offer therapeutic massage, especially after vigorous activity.
  • Cold, damp weather may be tougher on your Fido's joints, just as it is on ours. During these times, an extra layer of blanket or other insulation under his bedding will separate him from the cold floor.
© Carrie Boyko
Good Hip Support
Provided by Tanner's Fave Bed

Indications of trouble brewing should be watched for in behaviors such as:
  • Difficulty or adverse reaction to walking, playing, or going up stairs
  • Falling behind on walks
  • General lethargy
  • Limping
  • Difficulty getting up when laying down
  • Signs of pain when petted or touched
  • Aversion to contact
  • Lack of appetite
  • Disinterest in previously-enjoyed activities
  • Abnormal seclusion 
  • Frequent, abnormal indoor accidents.
© Carrie Boyko
Tanner Awaits Permission to Eat
Just as I was moving in the direction of thinking about Tanner's hips and Oliver's knees as they age, I was contacted by PetSmart about their new GNC brand of Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM supplement. My vet had given me the okay to begin at whatever time I felt comfortable. I read through the dosage information on the PetSmart/GNC product and found that it was within range of my earlier dosage investigations.That was a good start so we opted in!

I located some online sources and determined that the sample offered for review would allow for modulating the dosage for each of by boys, so I agreed to give them a go, eagerly interested to see how their tummies would like this new addition to their diet. 

Each time I add something new to my dog's diet, I play it safe and am careful not to introduce two new foods or supplements at the same time. Doing this can leave you with a question when trouble arises. Which treat or food supplement upset Fido's tummy or caused his constipation, burping or gurgly belly? Just as with babies, one new introduction at a time is a safe rule for determining what Fido's system will tolerate.

© Carrie Boyko
I Said Smell, Not Lick!
GNC Pets Ultra Mega Hip and Joint Health comes in a chewable tablet. When I opened the bottle, I was instantly greeted by two willing science experiment participants. Tanner and Oliver caught a whiff of the Fish oil--obviously a significant amount of it--and eagerly took their places at their dishes for a opportunity to partake in this delicious smelling 'snack'. Who was I to tell them otherwise. They were clearly not put off by its vitamin/medicine table appearance one iota.  

As I removed the tablets from their container, I found myself pleased to know that Oliver only required 1/2 tablet. They are quite large and I'm certain he would not have had an easy time of biting into a whole tablet, his tiny mouth not serving him well. No problems with 1/2 though, thank goodness.

Needless to say, Tanner and Oliver's experience with GNC Pets' formula was a success. I started them with one-quarter of the suggested dose and gradually moved up to the full dosage in weekly increments, when there were no digestive issues. We watched their "output" for more than 30 days. No problems, no hiccups, no nothing. 

While I cannot guarantee the efficacy of this supplement from my own trial (no one can), I can tell you that there appears to be a large amount of support for use of such a formula in your older dog, or even one with a genetic predisposition to joint issues such as Oliver's slight luxating patellas. 

Additionally, there is evidence that preventive treatment can help stave off problems in dogs (and humans too) who have had serious injuries or strain to their joints. How you evaluate this may be an owner's choice. My take is that if your pup has been highly physically active, such as an agility competitor, dock diver or participant in any other extremely aggressive activity, the addition of a proactive supplement to his diet may serve him well. 

There appears to be no adverse side effects in human testing and veterinarians seem to largely support its use in dogs. My own experience has been a positive one; we will continue to treat Tanner and Oliver with joint support supplements to a healthy old age. Tanner has graciously volunteered to do Oliver's swimming for him, and Oliver plans to continue his daily walks as long as it isn't raining. No way; no how; no rain! Their individual personalities never cease to entertain me. 

PetSmart has offered a giveaway of their GNC Pets Ultra Mega Hip and Joint Health supplement, for those of you who would like to give it a go. I will be giving away a bottle of this formula to two winners in this drawing. This is a $50 value to each winner. 

© courtesy
If you're not into the giveaway method, feel free to order your own from PetSmart online.  They also carry a formula of this same product for senior dogs. Find them both for purchase at their link in this paragraph. You can also use their Store Locator to find your closest PetSmart store. Be sure to take Fido along for some extra exercise and a chance to socialize with other PetSmart visitors.

If the Rafflecopter entry form does not appear here, simply click the post title above to refresh, and it will be just below this line:

Always consult your veterinarian before beginning a new vitamin or nutritional supplement for your pet. Some health conditions may be contra-indicated for this therapy. As with most nutritional supplements, serve with or following a meal.

No purchase necessary to win. Offer available to US and Canadian addresses except Quebec. Void wherever prohibited. A sample of PetSmart's GNC Hip and Joint Health supplement was provided for review and testing by my dogs, both large and small. I was not paid to provide the information shared here and these experiences and opinions are my own. Giveaway participants and winners agree to the rules at our Giveaway and Contest Rules page.


K-Koira said...

I would consider the number one most important thing for preventing arthritis is to keep your dog at a low, healthy weight their whole life. Overweight dogs have more pressure put on their joints no matter what they are doing, increasing their risk for arthritis greatly.

browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

I turned five too, back in March. My Human gives me fish oil with Omega 3's and is taking me to the vet this week for the same discussion. Course with my get the picture.

K-Koira brings about an important point with so many overweight dogs around...When I walk in the park people think I'm skinny! Would you believe it? Since I usually weigh 100 lbs we watch my weight carefully. My Human tries to keep me exercised enough to keep me from topping far so good. Bigger dogs have a more difficult time with arthritis and put more strain on their joints.

Really enjoyed your article. Thanks.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

Carrie Boyko said...

Good point that I neglected to bring up. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping the pressure off the joints. That's why we must keep these pups busy with other activities such as swimming, walking, and even flyball, K-Koira!

Thanks for stopping by and as always, your comments add much to the discussion. Happy tails!

Cynthia Downer said...

Well, I love to give my dogs massages and I believe that helps. We go for a bunch of walks and hikes also.

cstironkat said...

I took a dog massage class, we exercise together and I also give my dogs Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements. Another thing I do is brush their teeth to keep up with their dental health.

katie mitchell said...

I actually am trying to win this for my friends great dane who has hip trouble, they give him treats with glucosomine and maek sure he has a comfy bed.

katie mitchell said...

I think my dogs would love NEW Bounce™ Treat Launcher™

Anna Galanos said...

Unfortunately I don't do anything for my dog's joints. I know I should, but I don't purchase any supplements. It's really difficult for my dogs to take them anyway. said...

I wanted to mention that dog owners shouldn't rely on a dog food or treat for that matter for their dog's arthritic support regardless if it says on the bag that it includes glucosamine /chondroiten.

nzrd said...

We buy my dog food that is specially for the health of their bones :)

Ashley Jones said...

I have a breed is that is prone to him and joint issues and I'd love to do something for them before it's an issue

Ashley Jones said...

I like the KH ortho feather bed

The Naked K9 said...

All the pets (rescues) here are seniors and all get a gluco/chondroit tab daily... it sure gets costly LOL but their health is worth it.

PepperPom said...

Pepper had surgery on both her knees as a puppy for the patellas, she has been on Glucosomine supplements ever since. I am always looking to see which is best. I increase her dose in winter when she shows more trouble climbing steps. currently I alternate night with Happy Hips, SeaMobility, and Dasquin chews.

shilohsmom said...

I try to watch Shiloh's weight, and I give him glucosamine supplements and salmon oil. He was recently diagnosed with early stage arthritis in his hip, so I'm doing my best to try to keep it from progressing. Even though the vet said it's early stage, it seems to bother him quite a bit lately.

shilohsmom said...

I like the Ortho Bolster Sleeper bed at PetSmart.

Misty said...

Ester C

Misty said...

I'm intrigued their treat toys.

Nancy said...

Cosequin & Ester C

Nancy said...

So many interesting things to choose from. I'm going to check into some new treats the next time I'm in the store.

Rick said...


Rick said...

I'm interested in all of the new brands of food.

Kristen Theriot said...

Tiny is kinda fat with skinny legs, so we have been having him on a diet. I also occasionally buy hip and joint treats instead of just plain treats.

ktheriot18 (at)

Misty said...

I just dicovered PetSmart's coupons.

Nancy said...

I think it's interesting that they are clearancing all of the halloween goodies before Halloween.

Rick said...

I'm interested in the adoption drive coming up.

Misty said...

I'm interested in the myPetSmart tab.

Nancy said...

I loved exploring the diffent breeds on

Rick said...

It was interesting to read about all of the services that PetSmart provides.

Misty said...

Hmm, for reset itself. I find the different kinds of pets that PetSmart carries products for interesting.

Rick said...

Petsmart's community tab has interesting ways to connect.

Nancy said...

I love how fast PetSmart responds when you contact them via

Nancy said...

I'm interested in the new heated beds. I hope they will help Molimo's hip problems.

Rick said...

I think all of the buying guides are helpful.

Misty said...

I find it interesting that they stopped promoting Halloween and have moved onto Christmas. Is it already that time?

Nancy said...

The new Nylabone treats are getting very creative.

Rick said...

I'm interested in the "People Saving Pets" tab.

misty said...

I'm really interested in the new kong squeeky products.

Nancy said...

I am interested in the treat launcher.

Rick said...

I'm interested in all of the different suppliments and how many are necessary vs extra.

Deal Bunny said...

we take him on walks... currently use a joint supplement. interested in seeing how this one performs better, however. (

Nancy said...

I love the "New Puppy" section.

Rick said...

I love the Luv-a-Pet items. Good quality and good cause.

Rebecca Hoffman said...

Maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to keeping the pressure off the joints.Some new suppliments are good for healthy joints of pets.

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