Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: What Supplements Am I Using?

Cookie's saga started by diagnosis of iliopsoas injury. As usually with such things, the plot kept thickening. It's not exactly clear what the true root of the issues is and short of doing an MRI it won't be. Since she's been improving, we decided not to put her through that, at least not at this time.

We are tackling her issues with a full arsenal of non-invasive options.

This includes laser therapy, chiropractic, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, massage, acupuncture ... platelet-rich plasma therapy for the knees, some medications, herbal therapy and, of course, supplements.

With exception of the Trazodone which we're are gradually reducing now, we used medications only temporarily during the acute phase(s).

On a number of occasions I was asked which supplements I've chosen for Cookie.

I like Standard Process products and the obvious choice for musculoskeletal issues would have been Canine Musculoskeletal Support. It's a great supplement and we've been using it for Jasmine.

However, this time I selected Ligaplex II instead.

Omega-3 fatty acids is something Cookie gets all the time.

It's not something I have added since the problems started but I did up the dose. As for specific products, there are a few which I like to rotate between various fish oils and krill oil. My options are somewhat limited because I can only use products that come in gel caps; Cookie isn't fond of fishy smell or flavor.

Other oils I'm using are evening primrose oil (source of less inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) and wheat germ oil (source of natural whole vitamin E).

According to my integrative dog nutrition course, whole vitamin E/vitamin E complex contains more than just tocopherol(s) present in vitamin E supplements and each of those compounds serves an important function.

When supplementing, I prefer whole food options.

I went into a bit more detail about these things in my thoughts on what natural means in regard to dog nutrition. The compounds beside tocopherols that are present in whole vitamin E work to increase oxygen carrying capacity of tissues, and reduce scar tissue formation, among other things.

For the same reasons, when I decided to also include vitamin C in the supplementation, I went with a whole food product as well, specifically Standard Process Cataplex C.

While vitamin C isn't an essential nutrient for dogs because their bodies can synthesize it, there are times when supplementation is a good idea. Not only vitamin C is beneficial for immune function but it plays an important role in connective tissue integrity.

Since Cookie's knees were deemed to have problems, I added Dasuquin as well.

Protein is important for tissue maintenance and healing.

Cookie's diet is already high in animal-source protein but I add a bit of whey protein for good measure. Whatever protein the body doesn't need to take care of itself, it can use for energy.

I also boosted Cookie's source of B vitamins.

From herbals, we've settled on  DOK's formula.

I might have considered adding some phytoestrogens but because Cookie has already been on that for her incontinence, I just left the dosing the way it was.

That's about what I'm adding specifically for the musculoskeletal issues.

There are other things that could be added but for now these are the ones I'm including. Together with her diet, I think it covers her needs.

Because of the prolonged activity restrictions, Cookie started putting on some unwanted weight too, so we're working on that. Along with dietary adjustments (more on that some other time), I also started adding L-carnitine.

The rest is all standard stuff such as probiotics.

Do you have a go-to supplement for musculoskeletal issues that worked for you? Do share.

Related articles:

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
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The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
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Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
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Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
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Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy 
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update 
Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations


  1. Thank you for sharing this great information! We used many supplements for Zeus over the years for his arthritis and liver issues.

  2. I'm glad that things are improving for Cookie (who is adorable, btw). You've really done your research here, and it's wonderful to share it with others. Thank you for such a thorough post!

    1. Thank you, yes I put a lot of thought into figuring out what supplements would be best. Then I discussed my choices with her vet as well.

  3. I use an all-natural senior supplement for Bentley. It is from Dr. Harvey's and he is doing great. They also have supplements for joints.

    1. I'm glad you found a supplement you're happy with. There are so many out there, sometimes it gets hard to make some sense of all the choices.

  4. I like to see so many more natural supplements available for medical issues in cats and dogs. It is so easy just to pop a pill but being conscious of how good the medication is, is important.

    1. Yes, one needs to be very careful picking "the right pill"

  5. Our previous dog was on Omega 3's and one of our cats has potassium added to her fluids. We also mix Dr. Harvey's Ortho-Flex with Ruby evening meal.

    I'm glad Cookie is feeling a wee bit better. Lots of great information in this post.

    1. Thank you :-) Yeah, Dr. Harvey's seem quite popular.

  6. I have used a few supplements in the past but now I am in need of one for an arthritic senior. She has arthritis in her back hips and a knee joint that hinders her walking and playing.

    1. Dasuquin is a good, proven one for arthritis. We chose that one to support the joints. Both JD and Cookie are on that.

  7. Well we use fish oil (Salmon) in every meal - and I rotate fish oils but you bring up so many awesome supplements I should be considering -- I will totally be signing up for this!

  8. Thanks for sharing and Cookie is just adorable, am learning daily from blogs like your :)

    1. Thank you, Ruth. Yeah, Cookie is way too adorable! LOL

  9. I'm afraid my rottie is showing signs of having the same injury (hope I'm wrong). Thanks for sharing this article, I was looking the right way to treat him if ever worse comes to reality. I'd like to be prepared before taking him to the vet. Glad everything's going smooth with Cookie. I'll definitely come back for an update.

    1. Sorry your Rottie is having difficulties. What signs are you observing and how long have they lasted?

      Here is the thing about lameness - it could have so many different causes ... Yes, some of them are injuries that are common but jumping to any conclusions is counter-productive.

      For example, the second day after we got her, Cookie became completely lame on her hind left leg we were sure as shooting she must have busted her knee. Instead, it turned out she had a remnant of a porcupine quill on her foot and that's what was causing that.

      Lameness can be caused by anything from foreign bodies or lesions on the foot, but bites, snake bites, infections, soft tissue injuries in the leg, spinal misalignment ... it's important to investigate and nail down the actual cause instead of making any assumptions.

  10. I am going to have to bookmark this post because one of my dogs, Piper, in addition to being in a leg brace for an small fracture and tendon tear is having some issues that appear to be musculoskeletal. There are some possible genetic soft tissue concerns (harder to diagnose) and some growth plate abnormalities (will hopefully get a more clear diagnosis once the injury has healed) and I am a little lost right now in terms of the best way to supplement her healing. If you're going to be at the BP conference, I would love to chat a bit.

    1. Won't be at the conference but you can email me.

  11. Thanks for sharing what you've learned, it really shows how you're using every possible approach and how anyone helping their dog heal can find many ways to do it.

    1. Yes, we're attacking the problem from all angles. Nutrition/supplementation, clearly is and important part of the approach.

  12. It sounds like Cookie is getting the best treatments available. I agree that while conventional treatments are sometimes necessary, natural is better when it is a feasible option. A good diet with good supplements can go a long way in helping anyone to heal.

  13. I'm glad these are working out for her. My cats both get supplements for their joints as well. I hope you can get her completely off the Trazadone soon.

    1. Yes, we're weaning her off the Trazodone. Hopefully she won't get any crazier than she already is :-)

  14. We have our girls on a few vitamins, and Oakley on few supplements. We always try to go for a more natural option whenever we can.

    1. Picking supplements is hard because quality isn't always guaranteed. One has to be careful not to buy capsules of sawdust :-) There is also a difference between isolated nutrients, nutrients produced in a lab or whole food extracts.

  15. I currently have Wynston and Joey on joint support supplements. Joey has a disability called radial hypoplasia so I've had him on supplements for years. I always like hearing about supplements that are working for other pet parents.

  16. I haven't needed supplements for the girls yet, but I'll double check your recommendations as they relate to cats if I ever need to.

    1. I can't comment on what supplements cats might need; not familiar with cats. But in dogs, I believe every dog should get some extra omega-3 fatty acids even if not supplementing anything else.

  17. I'm glad she is improving! It looks like you have thoroughly researched on what to give her. Simba isn't on anything at the moment.

    1. Yes, she seems to be doing quite well. I did put a lot of work into choosing what to add to her food to help the body out where it needs.

  18. I am a super fan of Standard Process! I'm on an NRT (nutritional response testing) program for my own RA and Fibromyalgia and use all SP. I also have a relative whose German Shepherd has severe hip displaysia and has gone on the NRT with SP supplements, and the difference is amazing! For my own Huskies, I also use Dasuquin and Omega-3. Plus Alenza for whole-body comofort and I was able to take one of them off of pain meds! I now have all of my Huskies on it as well. I also did cold laser therapy for my Gibson. Cookie is a beauty and I hope your regimen works well for her. I did non-invasive and alternative with my Gibson and he did really well!

    1. Thank you, she is a beauty :-) Glad your guys are responding well to their supplementation too!

  19. I'm glad that there are alternative therapies available to Cookie! Nelly takes a joint supplement even though she doesn't actually have a joint on her bad leg. Part of her femur was removed years ago, so there is no ball in the socket of her hip.

    1. I'm glad Nelly is doing well with her FHO. Even though that joint isn't there, I'm sure the other joints appreciate the extra TLC.


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