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Green-lipped mussel for dogs: A key ingredient in joint and mobility support
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Green-lipped mussel for dogs: A key ingredient in joint and mobility support

Green-lipped mussel & osteoarthritis treatment: How one of nature's most powerful anti-inflammatories works

Are you concerned about your dog's mobility and joint health? Dive into this blog to get a better understanding of the health benefits of green-lipped mussel for dogs and how it can help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Mobility is the key element in keeping our canine friends healthy and happy for many years to come. Thinking back to my first dog, Skai, I was so grateful he was able to go hiking with us in the mountains even at the age of 15.

But while he seemed unstoppable, eventually stiffness and aches started to set in. Seeing your dog slow down is tough for any pet parent as mobility is everything for them — it's joy, freedom, and life itself.

Fortunately, there are natural ways to support your dog's mobility and increase their lifespan, one of them being the Perna mussel or green-lipped mussel.

In 2009, a study called An evidence-based systematic review of green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus)(1) confirmed that New Zealand green-lipped mussel provides a clinically significant positive treatment effect on osteoarthritis (joint inflammation). 

This study included a review of nine clinical trials, focusing on the effects of green-lipped mussels on OA pain and mobility, but also confirmed that green-lipped mussels improved gastrointestinal symptoms in OA patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that are widely used in human and veterinary medicine. These drugs are known to cause gastrointestinal, kidney, and liver side effects, resulting in a deeper imbalance in the body.

But that's not all, what makes green-lipped mussels so beneficial for dogs and people lies in the powerful nutrients it contains. 

What makes green-lipped mussels so unique?

A recent study conducted by a Japanese research team focused on the compounds behind the green-lipped mussel's positive effects on joint health, pain management, and mobility — the bioactive glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)(2).

Marine invertebrates such as mussels are a rich source of these highly sulfated and rare glycosaminoglycans. Perna canaliculus is one of the best sources produced on a large scale in New Zealand. 

The glycosaminoglycans from the green-lipped mussel, primarily chondroitin sulfate (CS) and heparan sulfate (HS), exhibit several notable biological effects:

  1. Encouraging nerve growth: Certain chondroitin sulfate chains, especially those with a specific type of sugar pairing (GlcA-GalNAc(4,6-O-disulfate)), have been found to help in the creation of connections between nerve cells. This discovery hints at possible uses in the fields of neurology and regenerative medicine, where promoting nerve growth and repair is needed.

  2. Joint health and osteoarthritis treatment: Chondroitin sulfate is commonly used for its potential benefits in joint health, particularly in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It is believed to contribute to the maintenance and repair of cartilage, the connective tissue that lines and cushions joints.

  3. Anti-inflammatory properties: Both chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate possess anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial in reducing inflammation in cases of arthritis.

  4. Tissue homeostasis (stability) and cell proliferation (creation and growth): GAGs play critical roles in cellular phenomena like cell proliferation, cell adhesion, differentiation, and tissue homeostasis.

Another study, this time analysing the effects of a diet enriched with green-lipped mussel in dogs with osteoarthritis(3),  observed that there was a significant increase in Omega-3 fatty acids levels in their blood after 60 days. The owners also reported improvements in their dogs' pain and activity levels after switching to this diet. 

Why I chose to add green-lipped mussel to JointButter

For those of you who have missed the latest news, JointButter, our new product and the world’s first fermented joint and mobility support supplement for dogs, will be soon added to our product line up.  

I have researched countless nutrients, herbs, and superfoods for many years in order to come up with the best possible formula that would make a clear difference for our dogs' joint health and mobility.

That's how I came across the green-lipped mussel and its powerful anti-inflammatory and joint-repair properties. The glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) from Perna mussels have a unique structure and bioactivity, making it a popular ingredient in canine and human mobility formulas.

While I've also added chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine to JointButter, the addition of a whole-food source of GAGs from Perna mussels significantly boosts the potency of the supplement and increases the spectrum of available glycosaminoglycans. 

How are green-lipped mussels raised and harvested? 

Produced exclusively in New Zealand, green-lipped mussel production involves several steps.

Seeds are first collected and planted in a hatchery. Once they hatch into larvae, they attach themselves to rocks, long ropes, and other hard surfaces.

Once attached, a transformation into juvenile and consecutively into adult mussels follows. Green-lipped mussels are ready to be harvested in 26 to 48 months.

A note on the sustainability of green-lipped mussel production

When formulating JointButter, my team and I didn’t just focus on the quality and science-backed efficacy of the ingredients we selected; we also paid close attention to their environmental sustainability. 

The regions where Perna mussels are harvested are under the stewardship of the producers in a successful collaboration with Mussel Reef Restoration Trust and Revive Our Gulf Foundation.

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Green-lipped mussel for dogs FAQ

  • Are green-lipped mussels good for dogs?

Yes, green-lipped mussels or Perna mussels contain glycosaminoglycanssuch as glucosamine and chondroitin that help reduce inflammation in the body, repair and protect the cartilage, and promote optimal joint health in dogs. 

  • What are the side effects of green lipped mussel?

There are no known side effects to supplementing your dog's or puppy's diet with green-lipped mussels. However, if your dog has an allergy to shellfish, it's best to try  this ingredient in small amounts when starting this supplement. 

  • Is green lipped mussel better than glucosamine for dogs?

Green-lipped mussels naturally contain a powerful mix of anti-inflammatory and joint-protective nutrients, including glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin and glucosamine, which supports cartilage repair and  joint mobility. 

  • Is green lipped mussel better than fish oil?

Fish oil is not considered to be the same as Perna Mussel due to different nutrient profile. In addition, fish oil is generally unsustainable option due to overfishing. Heavy-metal concentration should also be a concern if you want to protect your dog's health.

  • Is green-lipped mussel harvest sustainable?

Green-lipped mussel supplements are considered safer for the planet and your canine companion as their harvesting is overseen by the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust in New Zealand.


Article references:

1. ”Green-lipped mussel review" by Catherine Ulbricht and team. PMID: 22435354 DOI: 10.1080/19390210802690191

2. "Bioactive glycosaminoglycans study" in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 612, 5 July 2022, Pages 50-56; Ayumu Mubuchi and team.

3. "Effect of a diet enriched with green-lipped mussel on pain behavior and functioning in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis" by Pascale Rialland, Sylvain Bichot and team. Can J Vet Res. 2013 Jan; 77(1): 66–74.

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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