There's so much information about pet care that it's hard to sift through it all. It seems like people are always talking about a new product with amazing benefits. Collagen is one of the products that people rave about. Trying to assess whether the claims are true, which dogs should use it, and for what, can be a huge undertaking. That's why we've assembled the most relevant information to help you decide if collagen is right for your dog.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the body's most common protein. It's considered the glue that holds everything together. It's one of the most important and foundational components in a dog's skin, nails, fur/hair, bones, joints, muscles, blood vessels, digestive tract, and many others. While there are many types of collagen, type one is the most common, accounting for around 90% of the collagen in a dog's body.
Why Is Collagen So Important?
In both humans and dogs, collagen is one of the elements that the body produces less of and at a lesser quality as we age. This can cause weakening of the skin, bones, and muscles, along with other parts of the body in which collagen is vital. In humans, collagen loss is the cause of the hallmark skin elasticity issues we face as a part of aging. While collagen loss is having such a large effect on our skin on the outside, it's also having an equally profound effect on the inside where it isn't as obvious.
Dogs experience the same collagen issues as they get older. It can often be much harder to notice the effects in dogs because their fur covers their skin and they can't tell us when they experience muscle or joint pain. Another reason the issue is more pronounced in dogs is that they age at such an advanced rate. So, as you can see, collagen is essential for the health of your dog.
What Are the Specific Benefits of Supplemental Collagen?
As dogs get older, they can be subject to a whole host of medical problems just like humans. Since many of these health issues are caused, completely or in part, by the loss of collagen during the aging process, many studies have been done to assess the efficacy of using collagen supplements on these age-related issues. The research has shown that the use of collagen supplements can be effective in preventing and treating different medical issues, including arthritis and joint pain, in both humans and dogs. Experts now recommend collagen for many reasons. Here are some benefits of adding collagen to your dog's diet:
Structural Health– Many important parts of the body are made up of collagen. As your dog's collagen production slows, adding a supplement can improve the strength and health of those critical structures. These include bones, joints, and muscles.
Bone & Joint Conditions– As dogs age, certain conditions that can potentially cause pain and affect mobility can occur. This includes arthritis, joint pain, torn ligaments, subluxation, and hip or elbow dysplasia. Collagen can be used to help treat or prevent these conditions.
Coat & Skin Maintenance– Skin and hair/fur are heavily comprised of collagen. Collagen loss causes weakness and makes them less healthy.
Digestive Health– It can be helpful in dealing with things like digestive problems, food sensitivities, and leaky gut, which can cause other issues such as immune system problems.
Promote Healthy Appetite– Many dogs, especially those with existing health issues, can have a poor appetite. Collagen helps your dog have a much healthier, robust appetite like he was meant to.
Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. If your dog has a specific issue not listed here which affects a part of the body containing a lot of collagen, it might be helpful with that condition as well. Ask your vet to be sure.
Where Does Collagen Come From?
Collagen is an animal product that usually comes from cows and chickens, though some collagen comes from fish. There are vegetarian forms of collagen that are taken from egg whites and eggshells also. There are no good sources of vegan collagen since it's primarily found in the skin and bones of animals.
If you aren't vegan or vegetarian but are still worried about the animals that it comes from, you don't have to be. They don't kill animals to get the collagen in supplements. The supplements are produced using the leftover skin, bone, and cartilage of animals from the meat industry that would have gone to waste otherwise. Then the collagen must be extracted. Those tissues are cooked until they begin to combine with water and form gelatin. This is the same process used to make broths and stocks.
Are There Any Side Effects to Using Collagen?
Collagen is generally considered to be very safe however it can have relatively rare side effects on occasion. Since the collagen comes from animals and fish, if your dog has an allergy or food sensitivity to the source of the collagen, he can experience an allergic reaction. It can also leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Things to Keep in Mind
While collagen is considered to be very safe, it's still a medical treatment and should only be used under your vet's supervision. There has been some research done on its uses and effects, however, scientific research takes time to do properly and ideally, the results are checked and doubled checked under many conditions. Science is never definitive or finished. The dose and method of adding collagen to your dog's diet can affect the outcome so make sure everything goes through your vet.