Dog foods designed to aid mobility are now mainstream. However, there is little regulation of what the diet should have in it, or the purity of the ingredients. Claims can be made without the manufacturer having to prove them.
It is best to try and make objective decisions about the benefit of a diet by looking for changes in the dog’s chronic pain indicators after at least 3 months of feeding it. Similar principles to the ACCLAIM strategy need to be applied to choosing a mobility diet.
Mobility diets tend to be include similar ingredients to those in tablet/capsule/powder and liquid supplements/nutraceuticals, but it is assumed that the larger volume of food consumed means a greater intake of these supplements per meal.
Hills has performed controlled clinical trials on their mobility diet JD and reported that it not only reduced the clinical signs of arthritis, scored by vets, it also reduced the dose of anti-inflammatory needed by the dogs.
Supplements / Nutraceuticals
The nutraceutical/supplement industry has boomed in recent years with an estimated annual expenditure of £50,000,000 by UK pet owners. However they are not all effective or helpful.
This topic is vast and is a very difficult area to offer advice on due to:
- The large numbers of products claiming health benefits for arthritis sufferers
- Wide variations in product form, and therefore absorption, activity, and effect
- Believed wide variations in actual content compared with label claims
- Numerous combination products offering more and more benefits
- subjective owner-driven input clouding actual evidence of improvements
- a simple lack of carefully controlled trials of significant size to assess statistical evidence of efficacy
What is a nutraceutical?
It is nutra – nutrient, ceutical – pharmaceutical, in simple terms foods with believed health promoting, disease preventing, or medicinal benefits beyond their obvious nutritional use. Nutraceuticals ideally focus on prevention rather than cure. A nutraceutical can be a food itself, or products extracted from it and sold individually or in combination.
It is a very exciting area of medicine as the use of nutraceuticals implies health improvements without risks of side-effects. However, there is less regulation of nutraceuticals than drugs.
A lot of nutraceuticals/supplements sold in the companion animal market do not have proven health benefits, and the data they refer to may be extrapolated from strained human studies. It is easy to be misled into thinking they have benefit when in reality they are simply a useless expense.
They are very popular for a number of reasons:
- They are easy to buy – online, shops, pet stores, human equivalents in pharmacies
- They are believed ‘natural’ so unable to do harm
- There is little evidence of side effects (but there is no regulatory body to report these)
- No veterinary consultation is needed to buy them
- They come in a variety of appealing formats that make giving them appeaing, such as chews and treats
- They are very well marketed
At CAM we feel this is an interesting area that will continue to grow, and fully support people who want to explore their use – but we feel it is important to give you the tools to make educated decisions as to whether benefit outweighs cost.
We have compiled a list of well known and easily available supplement components and a brief about what has documented evidence of effect in clinical trials. Click here Available Supplements. We do not endorse any products at this time
Please access our chronic pain indicator chart to help you assess your dog prior to starting a supplement/ nutraceutical and then reassess monthly to see whether there is benefit. Further information regarding supplements can be found on our page about choosing a nutraceutical.