When it comes to supporting the health and well-being of our canine friends, there is no shortage of supplements and superfoods to help promote a longer, happier life.* Among these offerings, one component that has been attracting attention recently is collagen, a protein commonly associated with youthful skin in humans. In the same way that collagen serves vital functions in the human body, it might also play a role to a dog's overall health and wellness.
Collagen: A biological keystone
Before we delve into the specifics for our furry friends, let's understand what collagen is. This abundant protein makes up about 25-35% of the total protein content in mammals. It's a primary building block in skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Collagen also forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure.
There are several types of collagen, but types I, II, and III are the most common. Type I collagen accounts for 90% of the body's supply and provides skin with its tensile strength and resilience. Type II is present in cartilage, providing a cushion for our (and our pets') joints, while type III is found in skin, muscles, and blood vessels.
Collagen in dogs
In dogs, just like in humans, collagen plays a role in joint health, skin health, and even digestion. As dogs age, their natural collagen production slows down, just as it does in humans. This decreased collagen can lead to a host of health issues, including stiff joints, lack of skin elasticity, a dull coat, and more. This is particularly significant for larger breeds and older dogs who are more prone to arthritis and other joint-related issues.
Canine collagen supplements
Understanding the vital role collagen plays in canine health, supplementing a dog's diet with collagen can seem like an appealing option as part of a healthy diet. There are canine-specific collagen supplements available today.
Scientists have begun to research the benefits of collagen supplements for dogs. Research has shown that collagen supplements might potentially help with joint pain and support mobility in dogs suffering from arthritis or other joint conditions.* A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that oral collagen supplementation could support the comfort and activity of dogs with osteoarthritis in some conditions. You can also read about the benefits of chicken for dogs.
However, it's not just arthritic dogs that may benefit from a collagen boost. All dogs, especially as they age, might potentially benefit from added collagen in their diet.* You can also read about the role of chondroitin in your dog's health as well as glucosamine.
Picking the right collagen supplement for your dog
When selecting a collagen supplement, pet owners should look for hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. This type of collagen has been broken down into smaller molecules, making it easier for your dog's body to absorb.
In addition, it's essential to consider the collagen source. High-quality collagen supplements are typically made from wild-caught fish or grass-fed, pasture-raised animals such as beef collagen.
Finally, while collagen is generally considered safe for dogs, always consult with your veterinarian before adding any new supplement to your pet's diet.
The collagen-centric lifestyle for dogs
Aside from supplements, there are also natural ways to support your dog's collagen production. Ensuring a balanced diet rich in high-quality protein can help. Bone broth, for instance, is an excellent natural source of collagen and is generally safe for dogs to consume.
Regular exercise can also support collagen production. Low-impact activities like swimming or leash walks can promote joint health without putting excessive strain on your dog's body.
While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and long-term effects of collagen supplementation in dogs, the existing science points to promising results. As our understanding of canine health continues to grow, there's no doubt that we'll continue finding ways to improve the lives of our four-legged friends. With its potential benefits, collagen supplements represent an exciting development in the field of canine health and well-being.