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The value of the green-lipped mussel

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01 March 2014, at 12:00am

Ian Williams in this third in a series of articles from Royal Canin on the latest knowledge behind nutrients that can be of benefit to cats and dogs, looks at green-lipped mussels...

DESPITE their strong appearance, joints can gradually become sensitive with age, affecting a cat or dog’s mobility, activity and wellbeing.

Joint issues are common in pets and it is sometimes difficult for owners to notice the small changes in mobility when they occur. Although joint issues can occur in animals of any age, they are more common in middle-aged and geriatric dogs, affecting at least one in four dogs in total.

All sizes of dog are at risk of mobility problems; however, large breed dogs are more commonly affected when compared to small and medium breed dogs. 

Joint issues in cats have traditionally been considered rare, but awareness of these is now increasing due to improved methods of diagnosis. As with dogs, joint issues are more commonly seen in middle-aged and geriatric cats.

Maintaining a pet’s ideal weight and feeding a suitable diet may help to keep joints healthy for longer. In addition to providing nutrients to help support the structure of the joints, specific nutrients may help to modulate healthy soft tissue responses and minimise the effects of free radicals on the joints.

A variety of nutrients, including long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, antioxidants and green- lipped mussel powder, are reported to be beneficial for the nutritional support of cats and dogs with joint issues. Here we take a closer look at green-lipped mussel.

The green-lipped mussel

Among some indigenous coastal cultures, shell-fish supplements have been long used as a traditional nutritional support for joint health.

Interest has focused on the potential benefits of a nutritional supplement prepared from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus.

The mussels harvested along the coast of New Zealand benefit from a constantly renewed supply of marine nutrients brought by the ocean current.

The mussels act as a sea-water filter, which leads to the retention of a large number of potentially beneficial nutrients.

Green-lipped mussels are known to contain a number of nutrients that may be beneficial in supporting pets with joint issues.

Most importantly, green-lipped mussel has been shown to contain omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and a unique omega-3 fatty acid – eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA) – which interacts in the body with both the cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase pathways.

Green-lipped mussel also contains glycosaminoglycans (chondroitin sulphate), glutamine (a glycosaminoglycan precursor), vitamins C and E and antioxidant micronutrients (including zinc, copper and selenium) that can be beneficial in helping to maintain joint health. It is thought that these nutrients act synergistically to help support pets with mobility issues.

Dietary modification plays an important role in the support of healthy mobility in veterinary practice.

Its main goals include providing complete and balanced nutrition for the individual patient and an appropriate energy intake to help maintain a lean body condition, as well as providing cartilage precursors and antioxidants to help support cats and dogs with joint issues. • For further reading please visit: vetportal.royalcanin.co.uk (or vetportal.royalcanin.ie for Ireland).