“Hey! Do you have any suggestions for my dog’s foot pads?”
I’ve heard this question a few times. Maybe you have as well. It comes from owners who have dogs with sensitive pads, dogs with rough cracked pads, or dogs with pads that ‘burn out’ or develop sores when doing agility, flyball, or field training. I’ve never had an answer, until recently, when I told two different owners to try giving their dogs collagen as a trial.
I take a scoop of collagen in my coffee in the morning. It makes it a bit thicker but doesn’t really have any flavour. I started doing it when I was on the ketogenic diet kick. I don’t do keto anymore, but I kept up with the collagen. What have I noticed? I don’t know! However, upon reflection, I do think that my skin looks better than it did 5 years ago! And really, that’s the only thing I can attribute it to!
But back to the dogs… These two owners tried it for a month and at their most recent appointments, I asked what they thought. Both of them thought it was helping their dogs. Both dogs had sensitive pads that seemed to damage easily… but over the month they seemed to be more resilient. Both owners were going to continue on.
So, I thought, maybe I should check some research on the subject. Here’s a bit of what I found:
I selected review papers first.
1. It has been proven that daily consumption of hydrolyzed collagen in different doses, from different sources can bring many benefits for the human body from relieving joint pain to improving skin health.1
2. Collagen is effective in improving OA symptoms.2
3. Oral administration of intact or hydrolyzed collagen improves clinical manifestation of skin health. Direct effects of collagen peptides on fibroblasts, M2-like macrophages, and oral tolerance-related mechanisms are the possible mechanisms for the beneficial effects of collagen supplementation.3
Next, I selected randomized controlled trials.
4. Objective dermatological measurements, such as cutometry and corneometry, have proven that oral collagen peptides together with other dermonutrients significantly improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density after three months of intake.4
5. Thirteen-week supplementation with hydrolysed collagen results in improvements in osteoarthritis functional scoring, pain scoring, and quality of life scores and can be considered a potential therapeutic agent for the management of osteoarthritis and maintenance of joint health.5
From where is collagen sourced? Hydrolyzed collagen can be isolated from different sources including bovine, porcine skin, marine organisms, chicken skin and fish cartilage.1
Dosage? This same review paper cited consumption of collagen in doses that ranged anywhere from 300mg to 10grams.1 All doses were effective, and no side effects were noted.
What about Dogs? I found a review paper for undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) for joint health in companion animals.6 When discussing its effectiveness as a joint supplement, the paper reviewed six canine studies. The following was noted:
• 1mg or 10mg of UC-II for 90-days results in lower levels of overall pain, lameness, and pain on limb manipulation after exercises, as well as an increase in physical activity levels. (10mg dose was better than 1mg)
• 10 mg of UC-II was found to be superior to glucosamine and chondroitin, while the study suggested that regular treatment of arthritic dogs using UC-II alone or in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin ameliorated the signs and symptoms of arthritis considerably better than both glucosamine and chondroitin.
• UC-II supplementation alone (10 mg/day for 150 days) was well tolerated and increased the well-being significantly in moderately arthritic dogs
• Robenacoxib and UC-II (40mg/day) similarly improved mobility of dogs affected by OA.
One last study7… Just because I find it interesting!
Labrador retrievers were fed 40mg UC-II daily or a placebo of maltodextrin and gradually trained to run for 11 weeks (after a pre-training 2-week loading period). The final run was 16km after which blood samples were collected and compared to baseline samples. Findings?
• Activity per kilometer and overall moving speed was greater in the UC-II dogs.
• Labrador Retrievers supplemented with undenatured type II collagen had decreased inflammation and cartilage degeneration compared with nonsupplemented dogs during exercise.
While I couldn’t find anything in the literature to support using collagen for foot pad or skin issues, the fact that collagen is useful for osteoarthritis is great news! This blog started out as a skin related blog, but my research led me to arthritis research. Bonus! I would say that it is likely safe to extrapolate that since collagen has been shown to be beneficial for skin in humans and is clearly absorbable and tolerated in dogs… could we not speculate that it would be effective in skin trauma or lesions in dogs as well? - Especially in regards to foot pads or even wound healing!
I’ll leave you with that thought. For now, I am pleased with my mini-findings of ‘happier pads’ in two sporting dogs. However, I am thrilled with these findings in regards to osteoarthritis. Even better is that collagen is readily available at most health food stores and the literature shows it to be well tolerated. Win-win!
1. Lupu MA, Gradisteanu Pircalabioru G, Chifiriuc MC, Albulescu R, Tanase C. Beneficial effects of food supplements based on hydrolyzed collagen for skin care (Review). Exp Ther Med. 2020 Jul;20(1):12-17.
2. García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019 Mar;43(3):531-538.
3. Barati M, Jabbari M, Navekar R, Farahmand F, Zeinalian R, Salehi-Sahlabadi A, Abbaszadeh N, Mokari-Yamchi A, Davoodi SH. Collagen supplementation for skin health: A mechanistic systematic review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Nov;19(11):2820-2829.
4. Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 17;11(10):2494.
5. Kumar S, Sugihara F, Suzuki K, Inoue N, Venkateswarathirukumara S. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis. J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Mar 15;95(4):702-7.
6. Gencoglu H, Orhan C, Sahin E, Sahin K. Undenatured Type II Collagen (UC-II) in Joint Health and Disease: A Review on the Current Knowledge of Companion Animals. Animals (Basel). 2020 Apr 17;10(4):697.
7. Varney JL, Fowler JW, Coon CN. Undenatured type II collagen mitigates inflammation and cartilage degeneration in healthy Labrador Retrievers during an exercise regimen. Transl Anim Sci. 2021 May 10;5(2):txab084.