Nutrition and Osteoarthritis in Dogs: Does It Help?

      Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common syndrome having multiple causes and characterized by pathologic change of the synovial or diarthrodial joint accompanied by clinical signs of pain and disability. Confusion about the definition of OA has arisen over the years; recently, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons proposed the following consensus definition: osteoarthritic diseases are a result of mechanical and biologic events that destabilize the normal coupling of degradation and synthesis of articular cartilage chondrocytes, extracellular matrix (primarily collagen and aggrecan), and subchondral bone. Although they may be initiated by multiple factors, including genetic, developmental, metabolic, and traumatic factors, osteoarthritic diseases involve all the tissues of the diarthrodial joint. Ultimately, osteoarthritic diseases are manifested by morphologic, biochemical, molecular, and biomechanical changes of cells and matrix that lead to softening, fibrillation, ulceration, articular cartilage loss, sclerosis and subchondral bone eburnation, and osteophyte production. When clinically evident, osteoarthritic diseases are characterized by joint pain, tenderness, limitation of movement, crepitus, occasional effusion, and variable degrees of inflammation without systemic effects [

      Keuttner K, Goldberg VM, editors. Osteoarthritic Disorders, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Symposium, New Horizons in Osteoarthritis, April 1995. Rosemont, IL. 1995. p. xxi-v.

      ]. OA has been estimated to affect as many as 20% of dogs older than 1 year of age [
      • Johnston S.A.
      Osteoarthritis: joint anatomy, physiology, and pathobiology.
      ]. For years, the discussion of OA and nutrition in small animal medicine has centered around nutrition and developmental orthopedic disease or the association between obesity and OA. The enormous public interest in the relation between diet supplements and OA has recently taken over center stage when discussing OA and nutrition, however. Physicians and veterinarians are constantly asked about these well-advertised supplements. Purely speculative information on nutritionally based therapies to treat OA has permeated every form of media available to the public. Unfortunately, few well-designed scientific studies have been initiated to explore these treatments in clinical patients. Thus, this article focuses solely on the evidence for dietary modification, including nutraceuticals formulated into diets, in patients with chronic OA.
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