Hyaluronic Acid for Dog Arthritis: Why I Give My Dog Hyaluronic Acid

It took me longer to learn how to pronounce it than making the decision to try a hyaluronic acid supplement for my dog.

Arthritis is inflammation of the joint(s). Inflammation and degeneration combine to cause friction. Friction leads to pain and further inflammation. So what would happen if you could reduce friction? And how would you do it?

Joint anatomy

If you take a look at the joint anatomy, you will find that a joint consists of

  • the bones it connects
  • ligaments
  • and cartilage

The joint is enclosed in a capsule that contains synovial fluid. Simplified, the cartilage in the joint serves as a shock absorber and synovial fluid as a lubricant. Together, [hyaline] cartilage and synovial fluid facilitate smooth movement and reduce friction.

Synovial fluid

Synovial fluid is an egg white-like viscous substance—a joint lubricant. Further, because cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply, it receives nutrients for its growth and maintenance from synovial fluid. It also appears that synovial fluid even has antioxidant activity.

For our purposes, we’re going to talk about two components of synovial fluid – water and hyaluronic acid.

Water

Water is essential for your dog’s entire body to function. Insufficient hydration can increase joint pain. 70-80% of the cartilage itself consists of water. Synovial fluid contains water.

Further, dehydration can trigger inflammation.

Hyaluronic acid (HA)

HA is a naturally occurring substance that readily binds with water to form a jelly-like material contributing to the function of synovial fluid. One gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water!

Hyaluronic acid is continuously made and replaced in the body—it doesn’t stay viable for a very long time. In addition, with age, your dog’s body production of HA slows down.

Can a supplement make up for it? That had been my main question.

Hyaluronic Acid for Dog Arthritis: Why I Give My Dog Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid for dog arthritis

When the veterinarian treated my dog’s knees with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, he included hyaluronic acid in the injection. He believed it would increase the benefit.

The bottom line is that the treatment worked, and the knees are in great shape now. Naturally, we have no way of knowing whether either the platelets or the HA would have worked just as well alone. However, our veterinarian believed they complement each other. But isn’t it one thing to inject it directly into the joint and another to give it orally?

It seems, though, that the digestive process doesn’t dismantle HA, and it can indeed make it to the places that need it.

Further reading: Evaluating PRP Treatment for Dogs

HA oral supplementation

I am a skeptic by nature. However, I am open to trying things that can benefit and won’t cause any harm. Hyaluronic acid is one of those things—either it works, or it doesn’t, no harm done.

While injections might be more effective, it is a much bigger ordeal to put my dog through. Taking a pill is like—well, taking a pill.

When my dog’s elbows were treated with PRP—without the HA this time—she improved significantly. As time went along, though, she started looking sore. She is very hard on her body. We might repeat the PRP treatment at some point, but in her case, it involves anesthesia. Therefore, I’d like to put it off or avoid it if possible.

Further reading: Front Leg Lameness in a Rottweiler

Many dog joint supplements include hyaluronic acid in their ingredients. I felt that I wanted to increase HA supplementation without increasing anything else. So I got my hands on human-grade hyaluronic acid caps and added that to my dog’s regime.

In my observation, her elbows are feeling better.

Have you used oral hyaluronic acid for your dog’s arthritis?

Related articles:
Canine Arthritis Strategies Roundup

Further reading:
The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Dogs

Categories: ArthritisConditionsDog careHyaluronic acidNutritional supplements

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

11 Comments
  1. I honestly never knew about hyaluronic acid other than beauty products for humans. I’m happy that using hyaluronic acid for your dog worked well to relieve their pain.

    • Some of dog joint supplements contain hyaluronic acid along with other compounds. I wanted to test upping the dosage but adding it by itself. Anecdotally, it has helped greatly.

  2. I think I need to get some hyaluronic acid for my dogs as well as myself! I just don’t know what dosage for my dogs since they are so small.

  3. That’s a pretty good endorsement for using hyaluronic acid for treating arthritis in dogs. I’ll be curious to see the results over time. Thankfully, my dog isn’t too bad right now with arthritis. He stretches his back, which could be arthritis. I will definitely keep this in mind.

  4. robincrittear

    I have not yet used hyaluronic acid with my pets. I’m not sure it was available as a choice for my childhood dog. It sounds like a great choice though! I like that it is a naturally occuring substance and that it is available in pill form. A pill is so much easier than anesthesia for most pets. I would definitely try the pill first. As you said, if it doesn’t work, then it just doesn’t work.

  5. You did make me laugh! Yes, it took me several attempts to negotiate the word!

    From what you say, and your careful observation, this Hyaluronic acid seems to be beneficial and if it eases discomfort or pain then it is definitely worth considering. No-one wants their dog to have its mobilty restricted when you and your dog love to go for good walks or your dog enjoys a good run around.

    Would it work for cats do you know? Or is this better for larger animals like (many) dogs?

    • Any animal that has synovial joints might benefit from hyaluronic acid supplementation. There seem to be specific products for cats, such as Hyalogic Hyaflex for Cats. That one is in liquid form.

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