Green Lipped Mussel for Dogs

Posted by Nicole Wanner, D.V.M. on

Green lipped mussels for dogs

Is your dog's adorable face starting to sprout a few gray hairs? If so, you might be worried about arthritis pain and inflammation in senior dogs.

Green-lipped mussels (GLMs) are a popular joint supplement for dogs, marketed for their anti-inflammatory properties. Importantly, GLMs have not been approved to treat any disease in dogs. Research on their effectiveness is currently limited. 

Still, if you want to help an arthritic pup, you may want to learn more. 

This article outlines what we know about green-lipped mussels for dogs so far. We'll also discuss research on GLMs, potential side effects, and more. Note that it's always important to talk with your veterinarian before starting a new green lipped mussel dog supplement.

What Are Green-Lipped Mussels?

Green lipped mussels

First things first: what are GLMs, anyway?

The green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a species of shellfish related to clams and oysters (1). Their common name comes from the unique, green-tinted edges of their shells.

Unlike some other mussels, GLMs are only found in the salty coastal waters of New Zealand. Green-lipped mussel supplements for dogs come from commercial farms instead of from the wild. This cultivation practice is called aquaculture.

Arthritis: The Number One Cause of Pain in Dogs

In the world of pet supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, green-lipped mussels are known for their rumored anti-inflammatory properties. In dogs, osteoarthritis is the most common source of joint pain and inflammation (2). 

This condition is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). People can also get this condition, but dog osteoarthritis differs from human rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Canine Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis in dogs is characterized by the gradual loss of cushioning cartilage in the knees, hips, and other joints. In other words, the affected joints lose their "shock absorbers."

canine arthritis is a primary cause of pain

As a result, the joint becomes inflamed and stiff making it painful to move.

Common symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs include:

  • "Slowing down," being less willing to run and play
  • Weight gain
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Limping
  • Irritability or changes in behavior
  • Change in posture, carrying themselves differently
  • Standing, walking, or running differently than before

Osteoarthritis Treatments for Your Dog

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis in dogs. Some dogs are more likely to be affected than others, especially large breeds and dogs with previous joint injuries (3).

Still, there are proven ways to slow the progression of your dog's arthritis and reduce inflammation. Your veterinarian will rule out other problems to diagnose osteoarthritis, usually with radiographs (x-rays). 

After that, your vet will help you create a management plan to get your dog feeling better. This plan will be tailor-made to improve your senior dog's mobility and quality of life.

Most arthritis treatment plans involve a combination of weight loss, prescription medications, physical therapy, and supplements.

NSAIDs vs. Green-Lipped Mussel for Dogs 

Medications your veterinarian prescribes, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), are crucial to any arthritis treatment plan. They are proven to help your dog by reducing joint pain and inflammation.

However, sometimes medication is not enough to relieve a dog's pain. Other times, the dose is limited by side effects.

So what can else can you do to relieve your dog's arthritis symptoms?

A Complete Osteoarthritis Treatment Plan

Your vet may recommend weight loss, low-intensity exercise, and physical therapy as the next steps for your dog. These are all excellent strategies for supporting joint health and mobility.

In addition, you and your vet can discuss joint supplements. Examples of joint supplements include GLM powder for dogs, fish oil, and glucosamine-chondroitin. They can usually be given along with prescription medications.

Joint supplements, including green-lipped mussel, are not replacements for medical care from a veterinarian. Consult your vet to discuss appropriate supplements for your pup before getting started.

Benefits of Green-Lipped Mussels for Dogs

Benefits of Green Lipped Mussels for dogs

In dogs, green-lipped mussels are praised for their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Overall, there is inadequate evidence to say that GLMs can treat arthritis in dogs.

Still, what do we know so far? Let's review a few studies on green-lipped mussels for dogs.

What Does The Research Say? 

One study found that dogs with joint pain who were given GLM supplements had reduced pain and improved mobility after six weeks (4). The study was small, and the dogs did not have an official diagnosis of osteoarthritis. 

However, most dogs that ate dog food with green-lipped mussel powder improved by the end of the trial.

Another study also showed that most dogs taking a green-lipped mussel supplement had reduced arthritis symptoms, this time after eight weeks (5). 

GLM did not work as well as the NSAID pain reliever carprofen. But, the researchers suggested that it may help dogs who can't take NSAIDs. The safety of GLMs was also good in both studies, with no side effects reported.

Does Green-Lipped Mussel Work for Dogs?

There is more scientific evidence behind GLMs than for some other supplements. That being said, we can't say for sure that green-lipped mussels work for dogs with arthritis. 

We'll also need more research to understand how GLMs affect inflammation in the body. However, there are a couple of theories:

1. Green-lipped mussel supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA (6).

2. GLM extract may also inhibit inflammatory signals in the joints, but more research is needed.

Final Thoughts 

In this article, we've done our best to answer the question, "does green-lipped mussel work for dogs?" 

Green-lipped mussels are a supplement promoted for osteoarthritis in dogs and humans. They are marketed based on their anti-inflammatory properties. A few studies in dogs and humans support this claim about GLMs.

There were also no side effects of green-lipped mussels reported in the studies.

Green-lipped mussels can't replace a treatment plan from your vet. Still, GLMs can often be used safely along with prescriptions, physical therapy, and weight management. 

Talk to your veterinarian about whether green-lipped mussel powder is an appropriate supplement for your pup. A comprehensive management plan will help your senior dog stay active and pain-free.

References

  1. https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/green-lipped-mussels-dogs-how-they-can-help
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/osteoarthritis-signs-treatment/
  3. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/musculoskeletal/c_multi_arthritis_osteoarthritis
  4. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/6/1634S/4687864?login=false
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722199/
  6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/ar2016


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Author

Dr. Nicole Wanner graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. Currently, she is an academic research veterinarian studying CBD and DNA. Her research has been published in trusted international research journals. Dr. Wanner is passionate about pet wellness and has professional interests in genetics, behavior, and healthy aging. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and reading sci-fi novels. She shares her home with her husband Evan and their two mischievous rescue cats, Sylvie and Nemo.
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