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February 11, 2021

Getting to Know Supplements: Natural Science Joint Support

by Dr. Cayla Iske

The next supplement in our “Getting to Know Supplements” series is Natural Science Joint Support.  This supplement was designed to support common skeletal issues, such as degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.  

Over the decades, we have learned a lot about how to better care for small mammals.  As a result, the average lifespans for these species have lengthened, allowing pet parents to spend more quality years with their companions. Along with these longer lifespans come some health issues associated with an aging population. Issues with joint health are atop this list of age-related concerns. There are also instances where younger animals may experience joint issues - as a result of trauma or congenital defects, for example.   

Whatever the source of a small mammal’s joint-related issues, if your pet is struggling with joint health, adding Natural Science Joint Support to your animal’s daily nutrition may be a great option to discuss with your trusted veterinarian.  

An Overview of Joint Function and Health

Joints are the connection points where bones meet.  They allow the body to bend, accommodating mobility and movement. Joints are composed of bone, muscles, membranes, fluid, cartilage, and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) and are designed to provide fluid movement and keep bones from coming in contact with each other.  

A healthy joint is well lubricated by synovial fluids and contains healthy tissues (such as cartilage) to reduce friction during movement and structurally support the joint. Over time, cartilage wears down and degrades.  This wear and degradation can lead to inflammation of the joint and hinder movement, not to mention cause a great deal of pain (this is generally referred to as arthritis).  

The Role of Diet and Husbandry in Joint Health

Diet and husbandry play an integral role in joint health. Proper hydration helps maintain lubrication of joints and a proper diet can mitigate inflammation and obesity. Furthermore, appropriate bedding/flooring alleviate unnecessary stress on joints and regular exercise keeps joints active and moving to build strength and delay degeneration. If and when a greater need for support is identified, however, supplementation can be a great addition to the diet.

Could My Pet Benefit from Joint Support? 

As animals age, the daily wear and tear on joints leads to cartilage loss. This is a major cause of joint issues in small mammals and one reason this is a common ailment in older animals.  

Other factors that can contribute to joint issues at any age include:  

  • Obesity 
  • Previous injury affecting the musculoskeletal system 
  • Trauma 
  • Genetic disposition 

*Less common causes for joint issues can include infection or immune-mediated disease.  

No matter the cause, some signs that may indicate your pet is having joint troubles include: 

  • Dirty hind end (urine, feces, or cecotropes) 
  • Uneaten cecotropes 
  • Unkempt haircoat, matted or tangled fur 
  • Changes in urination or defecation patterns  
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Inactivity 
  • Changes in behavior (aggression, disinterest in favored things, etc.) 
  • Impaired mobility 
    • Limping 
    • Stiffness 
    • Difficulty jumping 
    • Difficulty getting in or out of litter tray or cage 

Some of these symptoms stem directly from inflammation or degradation of the joints while others are secondary effects of impaired mobility or pain. Because of the pain masking tendencies of small mammals, observation of any of these signs (or even just minor changes in behaviors or patterns) is cause for a prompt visit to the veterinarian.  

A full physical examination by your small mammal veterinarian, possibly along with radiographs or other diagnostics, can determine the cause of these symptoms and the best way to address them. 

Ingredient Functionality 

Natural Science Joint Support is specifically formulated to be nutritionally appropriate for small mammals and provides key natural ingredients to aid in joint maintenance or recovery. Aging animals, those diagnosed with arthritis or degenerative joint disease, those recovering from post-surgical fractures, or any animal with acute or chronic musculoskeletal issues can benefit from Joint Support. Ingredients in this supplement are targeted to reduce degeneration of joints as well as reduce swelling and inflammation that commonly cause pain in joints.

Ingredient Nutrient Function
Glucosamine (Plant based)  Glucosamine  Aids in the prevention of cartilage degeneration and improved lubrication of joints 
Flaxseed Meal  Omega Fatty Acids  Anti-inflammatory to reduce joint swelling 
Brewer’s Dried Yeast  Mannan Oligosaccharide (MOS)  Acts as a prebiotic and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria for whole-body health 
Turmeric Powder  Curcumin, carotenoids, flavanoids  Exerts anti-inflammatory properties  
and helps alleviate chronic pain 
Ginger Root   Gingerols  Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant to reduce inflammation and pain in joints 
Yucca Schidigera Extract  Polyphenols (such as resveratrol), saponins  Exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties 
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)  Omega 3 fatty acids  Anti-inflammatory to reduce joint swelling and pain 

Is Joint Support Appropriate for Omnivores? 

Small mammals of every kind can experience joint issues, so Oxbow’s Joint Support was designed to support both herbivores as well as omnivores. With that said, you should always consult your veterinarian should before adding a supplement to your pets’ diet.  If they indicate it is right for your pet, Natural Science Joint Support can be a great addition to a balanced omnivorous diet for species such as rats, micehamsters, and gerbils.  

What is the Daily Feeding Recommendation for Natural Science Joint Support? 

  • For herbivores such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, we recommend 1/2 to 2 tabs per day (depending on weight). 
  • For omnivores, we recommend feeding 1/8 tablet daily for mice and dwarf hamsters to 1/4 tablet for larger species such as rats, gerbils, and Syrian hamsters.

Supplement FAQs 

Many questions may arise when evaluating whether supplementation is right for your pet. Along with your veterinarian, you must consider your pet’s health history as well as other medications they might be on. Oxbow’s Natural Science supplements can be added to your pets’ diet for short or long-term use and can be fed in combination with other Natural Science supplements. For answers to the most common supplement questions, you can find some FAQs in our previous supplement blog