What Do I Need To Know About Canine Osteoarthritis?

By Neerav D. Padliya, Ph.D.

What is Osteoarthritis?

  • Osteoarthritis is a multifactorial disease that is related to the degeneration of the joint that involves pathological changes to many musculoskeletal tissues such as cartilage, meniscus, ligament and synovium.
  • In particular, osteoarthritis is characterized by the degradation of articular cartilage, subchondral bone sclerosis and the formation of osteophytes at the join margin and synovitis [1].

What Dogs are Impacted by Osteoarthritis?

  • 20% of dogs ≥ 1 year of age and 90% of dogs ≥ 5 year of age are impacted by osteoarthritis [2].

What are the Risk Factors for Canine Osteoarthritis?

  • Large breed dogs develop osteoarthritis at an earlier age relative to small breed dogs [3].
  • Certain pure breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies have a greater prevalence of osteoarthritis with respect to mixed breed dogs along with other breeds [4].
  • Osteoarthritis is more prevalent in male dogs relative to female dogs [5].
  • Obesity is a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis due to the long-term stress that excess body weight places on joints leading to the loss of articular cartilage [6]. Obesity is also associated with oxidative stress and elevated inflammatory state which lead to significant tissue damage over a long period of time [7].

How is Canine Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

  • Typically, canine osteoarthritis is diagnosed by a Veterinarian using questionnaires known as clinical metrology instruments (CMIs). Some examples of these CMIs include Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs [8], Canine Brief Pain Inventory [9] and the Helsinki Chronic Pain Index [10].
  • In addition to the use of CMIs, Veterinarians use radiographic measurements, gait analysis and goniometry to assess the impact of osteoarthritis on a specific limb [11]. Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has been used to assess the integrity of articular cartilage [12].

How is Canine Osteoarthritis Managed?

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to manage canine osteoarthritis related pain and their use in this indication has been reviewed by Innes et al. [13]. Long-term NSAID use has been reported to be associated with gastrointestinal, renal and liver complications [14].  Therefore, it is desirable to limit the duration of NSAID use along with their dose.
  • Promising results involving nutraceuticals have been obtained related to management of canine osteoarthritis involving omega-3 fatty acids [15-17]. For example, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation enabled owners to reduce the dose of the NSAID, caprofen that was given to their dog to manage their osteoarthritis [15] and enable dogs to generate greater peak vertical force in their impacted limb.
  • Calcium fructoborate (CFB) supplementation has been shown in a veterinary clinical study involving dogs with osteoarthritis to improve their ability to rise from a lying position [18].
  • Glucosamine-chondroitin supplementation has been shown in a veterinary clinical study involving dogs with osteoarthritis to improve veterinarian-assessed scores for pain, weight bearing and overall condition [19].
  • Diets enriched with green-lipped mussel (GLM) helped significantly improve peak vertical force generation in dogs with osteoarthritis [20].

What is the Impact of Muscle Loss on Canine Osteoarthritis?

  • Muscle atrophy affects the stability of joints and the decrease in mobility leads to a gradual degeneration of articular cartilage [1].

Improving Muscle Health in Dogs with Fortetropin® Supplementation

Fortetropin® is an advanced nutrition product made from fertilized chicken egg yolk using a patented, low temperature manufacturing process [21-22] that helps to better retain the natural bioactivity of the proteins, peptides and lipids that are found to be present within fertilized, chicken egg yolk.  In human clinical studies, Fortetropin® has been shown to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis [23] and lead to gains in muscle mass and strength [24].

In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study involving 100 dogs recovering from TPLO surgery conducted at Kansas State University, 50 dogs received daily supplementation with Fotetropin® and 50 dogs received a macronutrient-matched placebo (cheese powder) [25].

  • Dogs that received Fortetropin experienced reduced muscle loss compared to dogs that received the placebo (p<0.05).
  • Dogs that received Fortetropin did not experience increased myostatin levels in contrast to dogs that received the placebo (p<0.05) (myostatin is a protein that significantly impedes the growth and development of new muscle tissue).
  • Dogs that received Fortetropin experienced greater improvement in weight bearing capacity on their operated limb when compared to dogs that received the placebo (p<0.1).

A follow up clinical study is currently underway to examine the impact of Fortetropin® on quality of life and mobility on geriatric dogs at Kansas State University.

Learn more about how Fortetropin® can improve muscle and joint health for dogs at www.myospet.com.


  1. Shorter, Emily, et al. "Skeletal muscle wasting and its relationship with osteoarthritis: a mini-review of mechanisms and current interventions." Current rheumatology reports21.8 (2019): 40.
  2. Johnson, Karie A., Anne H. Lee, and Kelly S. Swanson. "Nutrition and nutraceuticals in the changing management of osteoarthritis for dogs and cats." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association256.12 (2020): 1335-1341.
  3. Rychel, Jessica K. "Diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis." Topics in Companion Animal Medicine25.1 (2010): 20-25.
  4. Dan, G. O., et al. "Prevalence of disorders recorded in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England." PLoS One9.3 (2014): e90501.
  5. Hays, Laurel, et al. "Quantitative genetics of secondary hip joint osteoarthritis in a Labrador Retriever–Greyhound pedigree." American journal of veterinary research68.1 (2007): 35-41.
  6. Impellizeri, Joseph A., Mark A. Tetrick, and Peter Muir. "Effect of weight reduction on clinical signs of lameness in dogs with hip osteoarthritis." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association216.7 (2000): 1089-1091.
  7. Richardson, Daniel C., William D. Schoenherr, and Steven C. Zicker. "Nutritional management of osteoarthritis." Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice27.4 (1997): 883-911.
  8. Walton, Myles Benjamin, et al. "Evaluation of construct and criterion validity for the ‘Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs’(LOAD) clinical metrology instrument and comparison to two other instruments." PLoS One8.3 (2013): e58125.
  9. Brown, Dorothy Cimino, et al. "Ability of the canine brief pain inventory to detect response to treatment in dogs with osteoarthritis." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association233.8 (2008): 1278-1283.
  10. Hielm-Björkman, Anna K., Hannu Rita, and Riitta-Mari Tulamo. "Psychometric testing of the Helsinki chronic pain index by completion of a questionnaire in Finnish by owners of dogs with chronic signs of pain caused by osteoarthritis." American journal of veterinary research70.6 (2009): 727-734.
  11. Price, ANGELA K., et al. "Effects of dietary calcium fructoborate supplementation on joint comfort and flexibility and serum inflammatory markers in dogs with osteoarthritis." Journal of animal science95.7 (2017): 2907-2916.
  12. Olumegbon, Ismail Adewale, Adekunle Oloyede, and Isaac Oluwaseun Afara. "Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopic evaluation of articular cartilage: A review of current and future trends." Applied Spectroscopy Reviews52.6 (2017): 541-559.
  13. Innes, John F., J. Clayton, and B. Duncan X. Lascelles. "Review of the safety and efficacy of long-term NSAID use in the treatment of canine osteoarthritis." Veterinary Record166.8 (2010): 226-230.
  14. Henrotin, Yves, Christelle Sanchez, and Marc Balligand. "Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical management of canine osteoarthritis: present and future perspectives." The veterinary journal170.1 (2005): 113-123.
  15. Roush, James K., et al. "Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association236.1 (2010): 59-66.
  16. Roush, James K., et al. "Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association236.1 (2010): 67-73.
  17. Moreau, M., et al. "Effects of feeding a high omega‐3 fatty acids diet in dogs with naturally occurring osteoarthritis." Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition97.5 (2013): 830-837.
  18. Price, ANGELA K., et al. "Effects of dietary calcium fructoborate supplementation on joint comfort and flexibility and serum inflammatory markers in dogs with osteoarthritis." Journal of animal science95.7 (2017): 2907-2916.
  19. McCarthy, Grainne, et al. "Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis." The Veterinary Journal174.1 (2007): 54-61.
  20. Effect of a diet en­riched with green-lipped mussel on pain behavior and func­tioning in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis. Can J Vet Res 2013;77:66–74.
  21. Buxmann, Waldermar, et al. “Process for producing a composition for increasing muscle mass.” U.S. Patent # 10,165,785, Issue Date: January 1, 2019.
  22. Buxmann, Waldermar, et al. “Process for producing a composition containing active follistatin.” U.S. Patent #8,815,320, Issue Date: August 26, 2014.
  23. Evans, William J., et al. “Effects of Fortetropin® on the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older men and women: a randomized, double blinded, placebo-controlled study.” J. Gerontol Med Sci, submitted.
  24. Sharp, Matthew H., et al. "The effects of fortetropin supplementation on body composition, strength, and power in humans and mechanism of action in a rodent model." Journal of the American College of Nutrition35.8 (2016): 679-691.
  25. White, Dana A., et al. "Fortetropin inhibits disuse muscle atrophy in dogs after tibial plateau leveling osteotomy." PloS one15.4 (2020): e0231306.



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