By Dr. Elizabeth DeLomba, DVM MBA
Diminished mobility is one of the most common ailments affecting senior cats. Due to its gradual onset, many cat owners don’t recognize mobility loss until their cat is unable to jump onto the bed or climb into the litter box. By this time, it may have been years that the cat has had mild to moderate dysfunction without support. Educating our clients early on joint support may assist in making them more comfortable in the years to come.
Introducing a joint supplement is a simple way to intervene and improve your feline patients’ mobility. The truth is that aren’t many alternatives to help with severe joint discomfort. While NSAIDs may be required to alleviate acute issues, joint health supplements can delay the need to go to compounds that could potentially be harmful.
The first challenge of any mobility protocol is compliance. This is a combination of owner motivation and cat cooperation. Both are easily accomplished when the support comes in the form of a tasty chew. This results in not having to “pill” the cat and since it’s similar to a treat, a chew actually supports the owner cat interaction. VetriScience’s new VetriFlex feline formula combines a smaller chew size with added flavoring to mask the scent and taste of curcumin from cats.
Ingredients found in joint supplements take time to be incorporated into the tissues to help with the cartilage and joint fluid regeneration. This is another reason to be proactive about starting a supplement. Providing an abundance of raw components helps the body to decrease loss and facilitates production and repair of vital structures.
Of course, it is essential that the supplement not only contains the ingredients on the label (not always the case with unreliable manufacturers and discount stores) but also that those ingredients are bioavailable. Ingredients that utilize the phytosome technology have been demonstrated to be more available to the body .
Many supplement ingredients are not fat soluble and therefore do not pass easily through the gut barrier. The phytosomes surround the bioactive ingredient with a lipid layer that facilitates uptake through the gut, thus in many cases, a lower dose is needed to achieve excellent uptake. Ingredients utilizing this technology include, Leucoselect® grape seed extract, Curcuvet curcumin, and Casperome Boswellia.
In veterinary medicine we tend to overlook certain ingredients that can benefit our patients beyond fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin. Whole food ingredients as those found in the Perna mussel provide these building blocks in abundance. Perna canaliculus is a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids, chondroitin-4 and -6 sulfates, hyaluronic acid and other essential amino acids. These components support the viscosity of synovial fluid and strength of the cartilage in the joint.
Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient that is useful for both joint and skin health. HyaMax® low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is an amazing lubricant able to bind 1000 times its weight in water. This also helps the joints resist compression, protecting the articular cartilage, keeping healthy and strong.
Boswellia, backed by a growing body of research, may help to decrease leukotriene synthesis. Curcumin, the active component in turmeric has been shown to help diminish discomfort in animal models. Curcumin also seems to suppress the production of matrix metalloproteinases, which are involved in cartilage degradation  and Grape seed extract which may decrease interleukin creation.
There are a number of ingredients found in joint supplements that will help kitties remain flexible and retain mobility throughout their senior years. Along with weight control, and regular exercise, flexibility and mobility can be retained in cats contributing to their quality of life in their senior years and support the ongoing bond with their owners.
Dr. DeLomba, DVM MBA is a Senior Veterinary Services Consultant at VetriScience®. She combines extensive clinical experience with 13 years of management in veterinary pharmaceuticals. She has authored over 50 veterinary articles and continuing education courses. Dr. DeLomba earned a DVM in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University and MBA from Villanova University.
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