Sadly, most dogs suffer from joint problems associated with arthritis as they get older. As healthy as they may be even during their senior years, their health would not be as robust as it was during their prime, and giving them non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for their joint pain can lead to a whole new set and even more serious health problems over time. Fortunately, your aging best bud has other options that are natural, safe, and effective. Green-lipped mussel for dogs is one of these options that you should look into.
What are green-lipped mussels and how do they work?
Green-lipped mussels are a shellfish native to the coasts of New Zealand. They are so-called because of the green shade on the outer edge of the shell where they open.
Some studies have shown that green-lipped mussel supplements can benefit people with osteoarthritis when taken together with NSAIDs; however, they’re not effective for rheumatoid arthritis.
Green-lipped mussels are commonly used as a nutritional supplement by the Maori of New Zealand. These bivalve molluscs contain omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA which are two of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories out there. Just as importantly, green-lipped mussels are a more sustainable source of fatty acids compared to fish oils.
Like NSAIDs, green-lipped mussels work by inhibiting the production of cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme that triggers inflammation in the body. One of the downsides of NSAIDs is that their long-term use makes the stomach lining and liver cells susceptible to damage as a direct result of COX-inhibition, because COX enzymes also protect the stomach and liver.
While green-lipped mussels inhibit COX enzymes, they provide substitute enzymes - called lipoxygenase or LOX - to keep the stomach lining and liver cells protected. Additionally, these mussels also promote joint health by providing chondroitin sulfate, which is a key component of cartilage. Chondroitin sulfate is commonly used as a dietary supplement for joint support and osteoarthritis treatment because it helps strengthen cartilage so that it’s better protected against wear and tear.
Evidence from studies have also found that these positive effects of green-lipped mussels on joint health can last up to a full month even after supplement intake is stopped.
Perhaps the only disadvantage to using green-lipped mussels is that the supplements take longer to work - more or less 10 days - whereas NSAIDs provide almost immediate relief.
Green-lipped mussels for dogs
The effectiveness of green-lipped mussels for dogs with arthritis is actually backed by science.
One study from 2007 found that green-lipped mussels can lead to significant pain relief and mobility improvement in dogs with moderate to severe arthritis that received supplements for up to 12 weeks. Results also showed that 75% of the dogs no longer needed the usual medications for pain management, and that the improvements associated with the mussel supplements were still present weeks after they stopped receiving the treatment.
In all the studies done on green-lipped mussels as an alternative treatment for arthritis, no adverse side effects were observed.
Giving your dog green-lipped mussel supplements
When shopping around for green-lipped mussel supplements, always check the nutritional content of every product. For the supplement to be effective, it has to contain at least 6% fatty acids. In order to keep all the beneficial components of green-lipped mussels intact, the best way that manufacturers process them is through freeze-drying.
As mentioned above, it typically takes 10 days for green-lipped mussel supplements to take effect, so you will have to start your dog with a strong dose and then gradually reduce it. The recommended daily dosages based on weight are as follows:
- 10 pounds or less: 200 mg
- 11 to 25 pounds: 400 mg
- 26 to 50 pounds: 800 mg
- 51 to 75 pounds: 1,200 mg
- 76 pounds or greater: 2,400 mg
Green-lipped Mussels for Dogs - Final Thoughts
The negative side effects of long-term use of NSAIDs are firmly established by science; on the other hand, there are currently no known side effects to using green-lipped mussels.
Aside from the delayed effect of green-lipped mussel supplements in dogs with arthritis, they work just as well - if not better than - NSAIDs in providing relief from pain, improving joint mobility, and improving overall quality of life. Another advantage of switching your dog over to green-lipped mussels is that you will be sparing his already aging stomach and liver from the possible damage that can be caused by long-term use of NSAIDs.
Keep in mind, however, that you should consult your veterinarian before giving Fido green-lipped mussel supplements, or other nutritional supplements if he also has other underlying conditions or taking other medications.
There are many alternative treatment options out there that you can explore and give to your beloved canine for potential relief from arthritis. Cannabidiol from hemp, or CBD, is one of the safest and most popular options. In fact, many veterinarians are increasingly starting to recommend CBD oil and other CBD products not just for the management of arthritis in aging dogs, but also for a variety of ailments.
If you’re looking to take the holistic route for your dog’s overall wellness, talk to your veterinarian about your options, or consult a holistic practitioner.