Dr Annabel Robertson, Technical Services Veterinarian, Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful condition affecting around 20% of dogs over the age of one year worldwide.1 Management of OA can be frustrating, and while nutrition does not immediately spring to mind, it is, in fact, a very powerful adjunct to the multimodal management of this disease.
The Cycle of Arthritis
In an arthritic joint, chondrocyte damage, whether from physical stress, trauma or developmental bone disorders (including osteochondritis dissecans and hip dysplasia), can tip the balance towards degradation and the proteoglycans are destroyed faster than they can be synthesised. In OA, chondrocytes synthesise and release increased levels of aggrecanase. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down aggrecan, which is a major component of the proteoglycan matrix. The overall result is a loss of water into the joint space and loss of the ECM.3 Products of cartilage breakdown such as GAGs are released into the synovial fluid and this leads to a release of inflammatory mediators, leading to pain and further damage to the joint. It’s a vicious cycle!
Without the ECM, cartilage is not able to withstand the compressive forces of weight bearing. With time there will be erosion to the articular cartilage weakening of the surrounding supporting structures as well as the underlying bone.2,4 The key is to manage inflammation and cartilage degradation simultaneously. This is precisely how j/d™ works.
Hill’s™ j/d™ Mode of Action
Canine chondrocytes selectively store a specific omega-3 fatty acid (FA), eicosapentaenoeic acid (EPA).5 When high levels of EPA are incorporated into the diet, the expression of genes coding for cartilage degrading enzymes (aggrecanases) is reduced. This in turn helps to reduce the degradation of the proteoglycan matrix which makes up joint cartilage. The high levels of omega-3 FAs also help to reduce inflammation in and around the joint.
An independent review looked at the efficacy of nutraceuticals commonly used for the treatment of OA in horses, dogs and cats.6 It found that the only nutraceuticals with convincing evidence of efficacy was EPA for the management of OA in dogs.6 There were four canine EPA studies, and they were the only ones which met the reviews criteria for quality and evidence—all of the other studies, including those on glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped mussel, either had design flaws or inconsistent results, or both. All of the EPA studies were conducted by Hill’s when researching the benefits of Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ j/d Canine. You may very well be wondering if you can simply add fish oil to the pet’s diet to get this same benefit. While technically this is true, it is not just the total level of omega-3 FAs, but the ratio of omega-6 FA: omega-3 FA and total level of EPA that are important. For example, a 25kg dog would need approximately seven human fish oil capsules daily to match the level of EPA in j/d, and the precise ratio of omega-6 FA: omega-3 FA would be unknown.
Nutrition can be Transformative
There is a substantial body of evidence to support the inclusion of j/d™ canine as part of multimodal management of dogs with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, approximately 40% of dogs with OA are concurrently overweight.8 Obesity puts excess mechanical strain on the joints and is also a pro-inflammatory condition.
A lifelong study of 48 Labrador Retrievers published in 2006 looked at diet restriction on the development of OA.9 The study involved two groups of related Labrador Retrievers. One group was fed 25% more calories than the other, over a lifetime. By 14 years of age, of the dogs in the lean group, 50% developed DJD.9 In the overweight/obese group (that consumed 25% more calories), 83% developed DJD.9 The study found that keeping dogs lean throughout life decreases the number of affected animals with OA by 33%.9
Weight loss plays a major role in helping these patients with OA, and Hill’s™ have incorporated the clinically proven nutrition of both j/d™ with Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution™ to create Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Metabolic plus Mobility.
To find out more about how Hill’s™ j/d™ and Hill’s™ Metabolic plus Mobility can help your patients with DJD and OA, check out this webinar by Specialist Small Animal Surgeon, Dr Sarah Goldsmid: http://veteducationvideo.net/portfolio-post/2016-power-of-plus-with-dr-sarah-goldsmid-dr-naomi-boyd/
1. Johnson SA. Osteoarthritis: joint anatomy, physiology, and pathobiology. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 1997;27:699–723.
2. Towell TL, Richardson DC. Nutritional management of osteoarthritis In: Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL et al. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th edn, Topeka KS, Mark Morris Institute, 2010:698
3. Fox AJS, Bedi A, Rodeo SA. The basic science of articular cartilage: structure, composition and function. Sports Health. 2009;1:6, 461-468
4. Roush JK, McLaughlin RM, Radlinsky MG. Understanding the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. Vet Med 2002;97:108–117
5. Caterson B, Little CB, Cramp J et al. The modulation of canine articular cartilage degradation by omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Proceedings NAVC 2005
6. Vandeweerd J, Coisnon C, Clegg P et al. Systematic review of efficacy of nutraceuticals to alleviate clinical signs of osteoarthritis. J Vet Intern Med 2012;26:448-456
7. Roush JK, Dodd CE, Fritsch DA et al. Multicentre veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236:59-66
with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236:67-73
8. Klausner JS, Lund E. State of Pet Health 2012, Portland, OR: Banfield Pet Hospitals, 2012.
9. Smith GK, Paster ER, Powers MY et al. Lifelong restriction and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis of the hip joint in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;229:5, 690-693.