Nutritional supplements for older dogs, necessary? desirable?

Our lab retriever Orson is getting older, (9 yo), and we are thinking of buying these nutritional supplements for older dogs with antioxidants and Omega-3 and what not.
Anyone has any experience with them?, should we use them?.

Thanks in advance.

I’ve seen glucosamine and chondroitin recommended for older dogs but nothing that would prove they are effective. For older dogs the composition of their diet is important, maintaining protein, reducing grain and fat, providing fiber. The jury is still out on a lot of these supplements in human, I don’t think there’s much evidence for their use with dogs.

I have a friend who used to be a vet tech and is now a biology teacher (so, not a vet or a doc but a woman of science) who gives her 3-year-old dog glucosamine supplements already, even though they are usually only given to older dogs for joints. She says there’s no evidence that it will harm her dog and it will give him a leg up (HA!) on joint health for the rest of his life.

I gave my golden retriever glucosamine starting around the age of 10. It seemed to help her. I would recommend it to any pet owner.

One thing my vet told me about picking glucosamine (which I assume applies to all pet supplements) is that there is no mandatory regulations regarding the amounts listed on the bottle versus the amounts in the pills. There are independent organizations that do guarantee supplements, though, like NASC. If you buy supplements, make sure they are stamped with the NASC’s approval.

I had a 12 year old lab that couldn’t jump onto my bed anymore. My vet suggested I give her a half gram of glucosamine a day. Within a week she was back on my bed. It gave her a few month better mobility, gave me a bed full of hair.

Cite anyone? Seems a good candidate for a double blind trial to me.

The OP might find this article interesting.

“There is very little clinical research on glucosamine as a treatment for arthritis in dogs and cats. In preparing a recent brief literature review, I found only two clinical trials in dogs. One found no benefit for glucosamine and the other, which had a weaker design, showed little benefit. Both showed far greater and more predictable benefit to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) therapy, which is a consistent feature of clinical research on glucosamine.”

A problem with gauging success with arthritis treatments is that the disease has (both in humans and dogs) a tendency to wax and wane, so that any treatment you use at or just before the start of a period of improvement gets credit for the change.

There are some vets who suggest trying this supplement, just as some orthopedists find value in them for humans. Some patients report/demonstrate improvement, but the effect doesn’t appear to be consistent. And the stuff isn’t cheap.

I had a chocolate Lab who developed knee arthritis (she’d had knee surgery as a pup for a congenital condition). Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements had no discernable effect. The NSAID she was prescribed was effective and gave her back mobility.

I have a retired greyhound who is getting up there in age. She’s healthy except for all the signs of osteoarthritis (she moves like a granny, especially climbing stairs). We’ve had the vet check her several times. Our options are to put her on rimadyl or dasuquin and omega oils. Since she has several years still to go, we don’t want to put her on rimadyl long term. We can definitely tell the difference in how she moves with the dasuquin and omega oils, though. They do help her.

Anecdata, I know. But she raced steadily for three years before we got her. Our vet commented that her little bones have taken quite a pounding in those three years, but he says she’s in really good condition and looks like a much younger dog. I wouldn’t give glucosomine as a preventative because I believe the studies that say it doesn’t do much. But once osteoarthritis seems to set in, then it helps ease those symptoms.

Good article thanks.

You’d think it would be pretty straight forward, and cheap, to do good randomized placebo study on this (these are just dogs after all, there is none of the associated moral problems with human placebo studies), that would show the effectiveness or otherwise of the different supplements.

Speaking as someone who has arthritis, the problem with testing for arthritis treatments in animals is that they can’t talk. I can tell you if a medication is easing my pain, if morning stiffness is less, if I have more energy. You might be able to tell the last two just by watching an animal move around, but not enough to quantify it. And you can’t tell if he has less pain or not.

My almost 14 year old Golden mix is on Rymadil for arthritis. I can tell by the way she lies down and moves that she’s more comfortable than she was before it was prescribed.

I had a 12 year old lab that couldn’t jump onto my bed anymore. My vet suggested I give her a half gram of glucosamine a day. Within a week she was back on my bed. It gave her a few month better mobility, gave me a bed full of hair.