Cartilade for Dogs and Cats with Arthritis

Articles and Research

Shark Cartilage Brings Arthritis Relief to Dogs

Veterinarians are getting wind of a new nontoxic and effective way to help dogs and cats with arthritis. It's called shark cartilage, a product widely used by alternative medicine practitioners for cancer in humans.
Ben B. Dow, D.V.M., of Putney, Vermont, has used shark cartilage successfully for several of his animal patients.


One case involved a Labrador retriever, 9, named Matthias, who suffered from severe arthritis in his legs and vertebrae. Matthias had been under Dr. Dow's care for four years, during which time he had tried several standard steroidal drugs (azium, flucort, prednisone, and dexasone) to reduce swelling and pain, but they hadn't helped. This shouldn't be surprising because conventional anti-inflammatory drugs try to block the inflammation in the joints without actually treating the main problem.

There are several forms of arthritis (for instance, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), but all involve an inflammation of the joints. Cartilage and the synovial membranes work to cushion any impact on the joints, but if these become eroded or soft, then inflammation, accompanied by sometimes severe and chronic pain, is the result. This condition has a variety of causes, including infections, metabolic disturbances, and constitutional imbalances. In animals, nutritional deficiencies are the most likely cause of arthritis.

Matthias became so inactive and moved with such difficulty (the inflamed vertebrae produced a "distinct arch" in his back) that the owners asked Dr. Dow to put the dog down. Instead, he decided to try shark cartilage, a natural substance not generally known in conventional veterinary practice. Dr. Dow gave the dog shark cartilage supplements at the rate of four capsules, three times daily. Shark cartilage provides the body with the nutrients (especially calcium) necessary to repair its own cartilage and reverse deterioration of the joints.

Studies have shown that shark cartilage contains proteins, mucopolysaccharides (which contribute to the formation of joint fluids), calcium, and other ingredients that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in the joints (which leads to calcification) and promote healing of already damaged joint tissues. After three weeks, the owners called Dr. Dow to report a dramatic improvement in Matthias' condition.

The formerly arthritic dog was moving around more, had a better appetite, and the arch in his back was gone. Even better, Matthias was now able to jump into the back of the owner's pickup truck. Dr. Dow subsequently reduced Matthias' intake to a maintenance dose of two capsules, twice daily.

More than a year later, the owners reported that Matthias was completely healed, "behaving like a puppy." As Dr. Dow saw it, "the use of shark cartilage was the last resort and has saved this pet for now."

A second case involved a 14-year-old female Queensland Blue Heeler. Like Matthias, Dora had severe arthritis in her leg joints and had been given several standard steroidal drugs without any effect. Dora was in such discomfort that the owners were, as with Matthias' owner, ready to have their dog put to sleep. Dr. Dow began giving her shark cartilage at a dosage of three capsules, three times daily. After one month, the owners reported to Dr. Dow that Dora had become more active again, chasing geese, in fact, and had started going on long walks with the owner again. For some time prior to the treatment, she had been unable to do either activity. The owner was delighted that there was no need to put Dora to sleep. "I have been a practicing veterinarian for about 25 years, and this is the first time a product has appeared that produces such significant results in arthritic dogs and without the side effects which often accompany drug therapy," comments Dr. Dow.

A nutritional supplement such as shark cartilage, which promotes the body's own healing processes, may not show an immediate effect and may require two to four weeks before improvement is noticeable. Before starting you pet on any new therapy, it's advisable to consult your veterinarian, particularly if your pet is pregnant or lactating, suffers from any heart condition, is recovering from surgery, or has any other health condition which might be affected by supplementation.

SOURCES-I. William Lane, Ph.D., and Linda Comac, Sharks Still Don't Get Cancer (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1996).
Nina Anderson et al., Super Nutrition for Animals (Birds Too!) (1996), Safe Goods, East Canaan, CT.

Shark Cartilage Research with Dogs: Jacques Rauis DVM University of Liege 1991 (excerpt)

Dr. Rauis's first study was conducted with ten dogs, each whom suffered from severe lameness. A dried 100% pure shark cartilage (Cartilade) was used as treatment for secondary osteoarthritis. Each dog was given shark cartilage with their food daily. No other drug, food supplement or treatment was given during the test period. The dogs were evaluated according to the following six parameters:
1. Local swelling; pain.
2. Atrophy of muscles (wasting of regional muscles).
3. Joint crepitation (the rubbing sound characteristic of osteoarthritis).
4. Lameness before action (difficulty walking or running after several hours of immobility).
5. Lameness after action (difficulty walking or running after a half-hour exercise but able to get over an obstacle not previously overcome).
6. Movement over obstacle (difficulty getting over an obstacle).

Dr. Rauis quickly found dramatic decreases in the signs of the disease. The animal's lameness disappeared, and their capacity for getting around obstacles improved tremendously. Swelling, pain and immobilization were negligible. In all cases, when the shark cartilage was discontinued the dogs reverted in large part to their original pained state within fifteen days. Dr. Rauis's observation was that the main effect seemed to against the local swelling. In addition, he felt the effect on the functional signs was "also impressive". His summation: "Shark cartilage appears effective and safe to administer in the treatment of canine osteoarthritis." The owners reported that their pets were more alert, much more alive, very happy, and able to climb stairs alone.


The following is quoted from Dr. Messonier's book The Arthritis Solution for Dogs in "The Natural Vet Series" of books published by Prima Pet.

Shark Cartilage

"Researchers have reported a link between blood vessel growth and the development of arthritis. In the joint fluid of arthritic pets, there is an increasing amount of a chemical called endothelial cell-stimulating angiogenic factor. This chemical encourages growth of new blood vessels in the arthritic joint. It is theorized that by inhibiting new blood vessel growth, further degeneration of cartilage might be prevented.

In the laboratory, shark cartilage has been shown to contain chemicals that inhibit blood vessel formation. Because arthritis is an inflammatory condition, and inflammation requires blood vessels, it has been suggested that shark cartilage can benefit arthritic pets by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels. And in fact, research has shown this to be the case. In studies in both people and in dogs, significant improvement is seen in patients suffering from arthritis. Arthritic pets and people taking shark cartilage supplements often experience increased mobility and decreased pain.

In one study, 8 of 10 dogs showed improvement when treated at a dosage of 750 mg per 5 kg of body weight for 3 weeks. Improvement was defined a no continuing lameness, lack of swelling and pain, and improved movement. When treatment was temporarily discontinued, pain and lameness returned.

....As a result of studies such as this one, many veterinarians feel it prudent to prescribe shark cartilage, as the supplement can be beneficial in some pets with arthritis and can substitute for therapy with medications liks NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that have potential side effects."

In comparison to bovine cartilage, Dr. Messonnier points out:

"Like shark cartilage, bovine cartilage is high in glycosaminoglycans that can help the body repair damaged joints. Since shark cartilage was found to be 1,000 times more effective in preventing new blood vessel growth, it has replaced bovince cartilage as a supplement for many doctors."

Shark Cartilage Shows Angiogenesis Inhibiting Properties

WELLINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuter) - Shark cartilage may play a role in curbing blood vessel growth and restricting the spread of cancers, according to new research by New Zealand's Wellington Medical School. ``We have now established that there is some validity to the claim that shark cartilage can inhibit blood vessel growth,'' Paul Davis, leader of a research team at the medical school, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Blood vessel growth is required for tumours to spread. Sharks have a low incidence of cancer, and ground shark cartilage has for years been used as a folk remedy for tumours, arthritis and other ailments. But there has been little scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Davis said that after a year's work his team had found that in rats fed cartilage from sharks, the development of blood vessels in abnormal tissue was reduced by up to 70 percent. ``It's an early step but it's a significant one,'' Davis said.

He stressed the research was a long way from showing that shark cartilage was a ``cure'' for cancer. ``But what we would like to think is that it will at least slow the spread.'' Davis added: ``What it's going to do is, rather than putting people on chemotherapies and radiotherapies to try and stop the progression, you may be able to use a compound like this.'' ``If you can at least hold it while you're trying to kill the cancer cells, then the job in theory should be easier,'' he said.

Excerpts from ...

Shark Cartilage Brings Arthritis Relief to Dogs -- Ben Dow, DVM

Shark Cartilage Research with Dogs: Jacques Rauis DVM University of Liege 1991

The Arthritis Solution for Dogs by Dr. Shawn Messonier

Shark Cartilage Shows Angiogenesis Inhibiting Properties
-- Wellington Medical School, New Zealand

Arthritis Benefits from Shark Cartilage Therapy -- Leon Sculti

Shark Cartilage: Anticancer Agent of Hype?
-- School of Pharmacy, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA

Shark cartilage extract promising; Experimental agent starves tumors' lifelines, study suggests -- MSNBC -- March 2001