Deer Antler Velvet for Dogs

Deer Antler Velvet for Dogs

Approximately 20% of adult dogs suffer from arthritis with osteoarthritis (OA) being much more common than rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Even though OA can affect any breed of dog, large dogs, such as German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and St. Bernards, are genetically predisposed to develop OA. In fact, they are almost twice as likely to develop OA compared to smaller breeds.

What is Osteoarthritis?

OA is an inflammatory degenerative joint disease (DJD) that results in the degradation of the cartilage in joints, formation of bone spurs, hypertrophy of bone at the margin, synovitis, inflammation of the lining of the joint (synovitis), and accumulation of synovial fluid.

The causes of OA in dogs are complex and may be due to aging, genetics, injury, too much or too little exercise, nutritional deficiency, obesity, and infection among others. Dogs with OA can have a wide range of clinical signs and symptoms including limping, immobility, stiff joints, swelling, pain with movement of the joint, and lameness.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

In the past, treatment of OA in dogs has focused on symptom relief using either acetaminophen (Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen (Rimadyl). However, NSAIDs have been associated with serious adverse effects on the kidneys, liver, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.

Because of the potential for severe complications from these drugs, veterinary science has turned to nutraceuticals to treat OA in dogs. Several studies have shown that Green-lipped mussel extract (GLME) used alone or in combination with other nutraceuticals is effective at treating OA in dogs.

Recently, there has been increased interest in using deer antler velvet to treat OA in dogs. After harvesting and processing, deer antler velvet contains nutrients that are ideal for the health, strength, and mobility of senior dogs. These nutrients include chondroitin sulfate, calcium, glucosamine, collagen, and the anti-inflammatory pilose antler peptide (PAP).

GLME, deer antler velvet, shark cartilage, and enzogenol (an extract from the bark of New Zealand pine trees) are ingredients in the nutraceutical BVP-01, which is marketed to treat OA in dogs.

Studies Using Deer Antler Velvet

A team of researchers in New Zealand. conducted a blinded, randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of BVP-01 compared to those of a positive control Rimadyl and placebo in dogs clinically affected with OA. They hypothesized that owner assessment, clinical examination, and kinematic evaluation (evaluation of the motion that occurs with movement of a limb) of lameness in OA dogs would improve after receiving the nutraceutical compared to the placebo group.

The dogs with mild to moderate OA were randomly placed in three groups and a fourth group included dogs with severe disease. These dogs were treated immediately with Rimadyl because it would be unethical to place them in a group in which they had a 1 out of 3 chance of receiving a placebo. Group 1 received BVP-01, Group 2 received a placebo, Group 3 received BVP-01 and Rimadyl, and Group 4 received BVP-01 and Rimadyl.

The findings from the study showed:

  • Group 3 had significant improvement in owner-assessed activity and pain scores in weeks 2 and 3.
  • The improvement in Group 3 was sustained after the removal of Rimadyl in week 6.
  • Group 1 had a comparable improvement in weeks 9 and 10.
  • Groups 1, 2, and 3 had significant improvement in joint pain scores in week 6.
  • Group 3 also had an improvement in limb range of motion in week 12, and there was a trend for improvement in Group 1.
  • Lameness was worse in Group 4 in weeks 0, 6, and 12.

The researchers concluded that BVP-01 was well-tolerated by the dogs in the study and that it was effective at treating mild to moderate OA. Also, the use of Rimadyl eliminated suffering during the first six weeks of treatment until BVP-01 began to exert its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects.

Learn more about deer antler velvet for pets.