220.127.116.11 | Message modified by user LeavittUK April 11, 2012, 3:48 am
I am sure many of you on here are aware of the benefits of supplementing your dogs with Vitmin C. For those that don’t I thought I was important that I share the information I have found recently.
As you will know from my previous posts I have been researching Cruciate Ligament disease in our breed. I wanted to understand what is going on when a dog ruptures their cruciate; was it genetic, why it happens, and as a breeder if there is anything I can do to prevent it.
Over the last few weeks of reading everything I can get my hands on the subject, talking the country’s best orthopaedic vets and scientists, gathering information of Cruciate ligament damage within our breed from both breeders and owners – Looking at pedigrees as well as having my own dog examined in every way possible. I am pretty sure it is an not a serious genetic problem within our breed. Although there is yet a way to confirm this – From what I have found there are a few concentrated ‘pockets’ of cruciate rupture, but nothing seriously wide spread compared to other breeds.
Initially I was convinced that it was related to the structure of the dogs; The angulation and formation of the bones that meet to form the knee that the cruciate ligament is attached too. But after having my own dog MRI scanned this has proved not to be the case – The orthopaedic vet that scanned my dog, in fact commented on how excellent her angulation was. He said had been shown this scan he would have made the assumption that she would never have had ligament damage because of her well angled bones.
Of course this is only one dog – But I think had her ligaments strain been down to bad gentic angulation it would be safe to say the other dogs genetically linked to her would also have a genetic predisposition to have problems with their ligaments. I also looked at some of the other dogs, not the internal formation of their bones and only from photographs, but I could see could see that these too were well angled dogs, in general the breed has great angulation compared to other breeds that have this condition as problem.
If this is not a problem due to the bone formation or angulation it has to be the ligament itself that is the problem….
I kept coming back to a collagen deficiency ; Collagen is needed in the body to create healthy joints, muscles and ligaments – Without this the ligaments would lack elasticity, flexibility and strength. It has been proven that dogs with collagen deficiency will be more likely to suffer issues with their ligaments.
The further I looked into the process of collagen production I was bought back to Vitamin C. Vitamin C is need to create collagen, if a dog lacks Vitamin C its body cannot produce collagen sufficiently. Dogs, like humans only produce a very minimal amount of natural vitamin c; not enough to keep them healthy, they have to source it from other places like their diet. Most dogs diets contains very minimal amounts of vitamin C, because during the cooking process to create dog food the natural vitamin C that the dogs rely on is ‘cooked out’ of the food leaving them deficient in the vitamin.
So already many dogs are treading a thin line when it comes to vitamin C intake, many will properly intake enough to maintain their ligaments to a reasonable standard but the slightest thing could knock this balance out enough to create problems in the ligaments.
This healthy balance is particularly crucial during the early adolescent growth period of a dog – It is during this time that ligaments are strengthening and growing. Any lack of vitamin C during this crucial time could cause the dog to have a collagen deficiency thus creating week ligaments.
When I was looking at the cases of ligament damage in the breed I found that in nearly all cases the dog suffered some form of sickness/virus that required the immune system to protect the body – We all know for the immune system to stay strong antioxidants are like Vitamin C are key; It is my belief that the vitamin e vitamin C in these dogs that would have been used to create the collagen for the ligaments has been used elsewhere to maintain the immune system whist it was under attack from the virus/sickness – Resulting in a collagen deficiency; I have also found that often the dogs also showed signs of a struggling immune system in the form of excessive moulting, kennel cough or skin flare ups.
There is also a definitive link to the use of broad spectrum antibiotics on young dogs with an immature immune system – It has been proven the overexposure to antibiotics on a young dog will dramatically alter the vitamin C levels because of the high amount of free radicals realised into the body when exposed to Antibiotics –The small amount of Vitamin C in the body will naturally be ‘used up’ trying to neutralise these harmful releases, which in turn takes away the vitamin C from other crucial areas of the body like collagen production – Without supplementing during the sue of antibiotics with additional vit C the dog will struggle to maintain a healthy level of during and after a course of antibiotics. In some cases antibiotics are necessary in that case Vitamin C supplement is crucial particularly in young growing dogs.
I am not scientist, far from it – I am sure a more educated mind can pull my findings apart, and there is probably a much more technical way to explain these link. Most of this is common sense, it is all linked – The immune system, vitamin C, collagen production and ligament problems. As a breeder I wanted to understand how to breed better dogs – I am fairly content that the cruciate damage we have seen in our breed is not down to badly structured dogs, but more to do with diet and nutrition. I think modern medicine and veterinary practice has a lot to answer for; Every vet I have spoken to are all aware of the effect antibiotics has on Vitamin C levels yet they choose not to recommend it. But with ligament damage contributing to a substantial amount of canine health issues you can see why it suits them to fix the damage rather than help prevent it. I am not saying antibiotics are the cause but they don’t help this particular condition.
So my advice to other breeders and owners supplement with Vitamin C you have nothing to lose – Breeders pregnant females will also benefit massively from extra supplements also young pups, I know I will be recommending this to all my future puppy owners as a matter of course. Also If you feed dry kibble add fresh vegetables to their diet too – It will help.
The best form of Vitamin C for dogs is a natural source I use EsterC as it is a less acidic one and is much more easily absorbed into the body Use vitamin C with sodium ascorbate or another form of buffered vitamin C, as plain ascorbic acid may cause an upset stomach.
I found this dosage guide useful:
Use the following daily dosage guide when supplementing with vitamin C.
For un-weaned puppies (Use the vitamin C pediatric drops or tablets that you would use for humans)
Small - Medium breeds
For the first ten days use 50mg, and then from ten days until weaning use 100mg.
Large - Giant breeds
For the first ten days use 75mg, and then from ten days until weaning use 150mg
After the puppy is weaned, switch to the powdered form of vitamin C. For the next 6 months very gradually increase the dosage until you arrive at the recommended dose.
Small breeds 250mg
Medium breeds 500mg
Large breeds 1,000mg
Giant breeds 2,000mg
Adult dosages: From six months on you will want to gradually increase vitamin C dosages until you arrive at the recommended dose for adult dogs.
Small dogs 500mg - 1000mg
Medium - Large dogs
1,000mg - 2,000mg
Giant dogs 2,000mg - 4,000mgI hope I have not bored the hell out of you all with my ramblings – We will not know for definite if this will help prevent, this condition is always going to crop up - but it won’t do any harm in trying.
Also below are some links for further read inducing some interesting articles on Collagen deficiency.