Getting older is not something everyone looks forward to… and if your dog could talk, he would probably agree.
It can be hard to see your dog getting older. They can’t always tell us when their joints hurt or if their stomach bothers them.
Like people, your dog’s body changes as it ages. This means their nutritional needs change as well. Reducing their calories can be one change. You’ll also want to start thinking about supplements to keep them healthy.
Collagen can help.
What Is Collagen
Collagen is an amazing protein found everywhere in your body – as much as 1/3 of your body is made of it! It can be found in places like connective tissues, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, gut lining, and even your skin.
But where does it come from? Your body automatically creates some, and you can get it from two typical sources, including:
Animal: Beef, chicken, eggs, turkey, duck, and fish are all animal sources of collagen
Plant: Leafy greens, beans, berries, and red or yellow vegetables are great plant sources of collagen
Common Health Issues in Older Dogs
Like all things in life, wear and tear eventually affects us all. As your dog gets older, cells won’t replace old or damaged cells as quickly. Collagen production slows down. As a result, joint and ligament issues get dry, rub together and cause pain.
Some of the most common conditions older dogs face are:
Arthritis in the joints: poor genetics, activity levels, obesity, injury, disease and age all contribute to your dog developing arthritis.
Dry or Brittle Hair/Hair Loss: Things like diseases, infections, allergies, and pressure sores can cause your dog to lose hair. Vitamins and moisture deficiencies can cause the hair to be brittle or dry.
Looser bowels: You’ve probably heard of the term “leaky gut”. If not, it means the lining of the intestines is compromised. This can happen a variety of different things, like stress or unhealthy lifestyle choices. Particles pass through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation, chronic diarrhea, skin issues, and more.
Collapsing trachea: Your dog’s trachea is made up of cartilage rings with a soft membrane near the top. As your dog gets older, this membrane tends to loosen. Even though it’s more common in small dogs, any breed can experience this. Being overweight makes the problem worse.
Loss of Appetite: Older dogs usually won’t need the same amount of calories they once did. If your older dog doesn’t seem as hungry as it once did, check with your vet. Diseases, infections, pain, or discomfort could be the cause.
Unfortunately, aging and health issues often go hand-in-hand. But you can slow down the process by making sure your dog eats good quality food, get him outdoors for exercise, and supplement where needed.
Collagen is one such supplement that can greatly benefit your pooch.
Benefits of Collagen
Because the natural production of collagen declines over time, you’ll need to intentionally replace what’s being lost. Some of the benefits of adding collagen to your older dog’s diet are:
Joint Pain Relief: Collagen loss is one of the main causes of tendonitis, arthritis, and degenerative disc diseases. Adding collagen back in can help fill in those gaps and provide pain relief. According to The Arthritis Foundation, type II collagen can be helpful for arthritic joints (2).
A Healthy Coat: Hair is made up of protein. Adding collagen can help replenish the proteins back into the follicles, bringing a healthy shine back to dry, lifeless hair.
Healthier Skin: Adding collagen to your dog’s diet can help increase elasticity and improve mild skin conditions like itchiness or dryness.
Joint & Bone health: Roughly 70 - 90% of muscles, ligaments, and joints are made from collagen. Adding collagen can increase strength and support on a cellular level, which can help prevent or reduce injury - a great option for sports dogs!
Improves Digestion: The amino acids found in collagen can help “seal and heal” the intestinal lining. Adding it to your dog’s diet can help repair any damage to their digestive tract, supporting good digestion.
Can Increase Appetite: Pain or discomfort can cause a lack of appetite. As your dog takes collagen, you may notice an increase in appetite. Its high nutrient content makes it a tasty snack that can be offered on top of food, or as a separate treat.
There are lots of ways collagen can help your dog age gracefully. But is it safe?
Does your four-legged friend need pet-friendly collagen, or will any brand do? Unless it has a ton of chemicals, preservatives, or sweeteners, any certified collagen product should be fine.
While typically safe, every dog is different. Potential risks you want to watch out for are:
Other ingredients: If you’re thinking of making your own bone broth, leave out onions, garlic, or scallions. These are toxic to dogs.
High calcium: Too much calcium can build up in the body and cause pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and heart rhythms irregularities. According to the US National Library of Medicine, marine sources may have higher calcium than land sources (1).
Allergic Reaction: There’s always the chance your dog may have an allergic reaction. Be on the lookout for any hives, skin rashes, wheezing, diarrhea or vomiting.
Red Snapper: You may have heard that red snapper is toxic for dogs. Here’s the deal with that: you shouldn’t let your dog eat the organs in this fish – the meat is ok. There is sometimes a buildup of a toxin called ciguatera.
What about liquid collagen, or capsules? Ask your vet about the best way to give collagen supplements to your dogs.
Should I pair collagen with anything? To get the most out of collagen supplements, try pairing them with herbs like turmeric, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These work together to fight inflammation and support the joints.
What about MSM on collagen labels – isn’t that the bad stuff? MSM helps your body produce the collagen needed to hold everything together. While they’re not the same, they do work hand-in-hand.
How do I know which collagen is the best? Many joint supplements contain some or even all of these components. Peer review is a great way to find out which ones work the best, and which ones to avoid.
Collagen is a protein found in every part of your dog’s body. Over time, the body stops producing as much, causing health issues.
Issues like loose stools, hair loss, loss of appetite, and arthritis can flare up with age. Adding collagen can help relieve pain, increase appetite, improve digestion, and bring life back into your furry friend.
You can buy collagen supplements or make your own. Bone broth is one of the best ways to get collagen. When looking for products to try, always check for simple ingredients, third-party testing, and good feedback.
Have you considered giving your dog collagen? Talk with your vet today about whether that’s a good option for your dog today.