May 29, 2012

Kris's Turn. Poor Kris

Kris, who has perfected the "poor puppy" look. :)

We've had a poor Jasmine post. Now we have a poor Kris post. Fortunately he has not broken his leg (or anything else), but he did start limping, which alarmed us. Upon taking a closer look, we discovered that his elbow was enlarged. He got to where he would lay around most of the day, not moving much and looking forlorn (a look he has perfected, BTW). Diagnosis? Probable elbow dysplasia.

Kris, 5 month, & Kody, 4 months

I say probable, because even though elbow and especially hip dysplasia are common in large breed dogs, and even though symptoms can be seen in puppies as young as 4 to 10 months, a true diagnosis can't be made until the dog is 24 months old, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. X-rays are commonly used to diagnose, also cat scans. Treatment is surgery and anti-inflammatory drugs. Arthritis always sets in, apparently even with surgery.  Rather devastating news for a puppy barely 5 months old.

I still have to get my photos from the other side of the fence
Otherwise I'm mobbed by wiggles and puppy kisses

Heredity and diet are considered key factors (fat dogs are more prone to it). Besides the medical regime, I wondered if there wasn't something else we could do. I presented the question to the Holistic-Goats group.

A response came back quickly, about a Golden Retriever who had been diagnosed with dysplasia. Her owners started giving her a couple tablespoons of unflavored, unsweetened gelatin twice a day, simply mixing it in with her food. The results were reported to be amazing, and the dog continues to be active and pain free 7 years later.

Pet me! Pet me! Pet meeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I had run across similar information when I was researching for Dan's arthritis, and in fact mentioned it in my "Honeysuckle For A Good Cause post. In particular, I had found an article by biologist and researcher, Ray Peat.
"For a long time, gelatin's therapeutic effect in arthritis was assumed to result from its use in repairing the cartilage or other connective tissues around joints, simply because those tissues contain so much collagen. (Marketers suggest that eating cartilage or gelatin will build cartilage or other collagenous tissue.) Some of the consumed gelatin does get incorporated into the joint cartilage, but that is a slow process, and the relief of pain and inflammation is likely to be almost immediate, resembling the antiinflammatory effect of cortisol or aspirin."     Ray Peat, Ph.D. "Gelatin, Stress, Longevity"
The particular substance responsible for this is a simple, nonessential amino acid, gylcine.

Traditional diets were richer in glycine than modern diets today: head cheese, fried pig skins, pork ears and tails, chicken feet for soup broth, fish head soup, pork chops, chicken drumsticks, etc. All of these are rich in collagen, which is what makes gelatin what it is. Today's highest sources, (per 100 grams) are gelatin powder (19 grams of glycine), followed by pork skin (11 grams), and pork meat and products (4 grams). Another good source would be homemade bone broth, also called meat stock (how to make it, click here), though I don't have numbers on that one. The highest plant sources are raw spirulena seaweed, sesame and sunflower seed flours, and soy isolates, all 3 grams of glycine per 100 grams of food substance.

Dogs would ordinarily get glycine from eating skin, tendons and cartilage, something they do get from a raw meaty bones diet (which my dogs get as much as our budget allows). As a treatment, the use of gelatin in dogs is known to be effective not only for dysplasia and arthritis, but also canine epilepsy. For more information, read this article, "Gelatin," at The Epi Gaurdian Angels website.

Kody and Kris, enjoying their raw meaty bones

I started Kris on plain Knox gelatin on a Friday, 1 packet twice a day. By the following Tuesday, (5 days later!) he was running, jumping, and playing with Kody like he used to. The swelling in his elbow was gone and felt exactly like the other one. What a blessing! I will say that buying gelatin as Knox brand packets at the grocery store is not an economical way to do it, so I found a bulk source online (but you can check with your local co-op or bulk food store). Much cheaper that way.

Kody & Kris, BFFs

Guess who else this has helped? Yup, Dan. The honeysuckle tea brought great relief, but had to be sipped all day, every day. Within a matter of days after starting the gelatin, he had excellent results. Mixing a heaping half tablespoon in juice or water twice a day is a super easy way for him to get this on the road.

I've also started Kody on it and me too. The long term goal would be to incorporate more glycine rich foods into our diet. Since pork is so high in it, it's got me thinking about our goal to raise pigs. Maybe even learning how to make head cheese (something I never thought I'd do). So. Does anybody have a gelatin based recipe or two they'd like to share?

A happier, tail wagging, Kris


Woolly Bits said...

that face - we call it the "lady Di" face and I think most dogs can do that extremely well - and very successfully, too:) poor Kris, I hope the gelatin regime will work for him, too. I've heard about this before, but always wondered if it works. have to try it out on DH now:)
good luck with that treatment, it would be such a shame with a puppy so young!

Bernadine said...

I think I need to start eating gelatin too! Thanks for this great post. It's very helpful. I'm glad the puppy is feeling so much better. Your husband too, for that matter. Being in the medical field, I'd much rather find the simplest, almost natural cures rather than the chemical or surgical ones.

A Wild Thing said...

Great advice, me n Scratchy will start on it right away...thanks...the face is priceless...:-)

Mama Pea said...

Yay! Once again, the old, natural methods are proven out! Buying the Knox gelatin packets might seem a bit pricey, but compare that to the cost of drugs a vet would have prescribed!! Bet both dogs would love some gelatinous bone broth over their food, too.

Florida Farm Girl said...

I'm so glad Kris has responded well to the gelatin addition to the diet. Dan, too, needless to say!!

Pork is one of my favorite foods. Always has been and now an even better excuse to eat it!!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Leigh, thank you for visiting Thistle Cove Farm...I followed you home -lol- and found this information very useful. I've sent your blog link to several people and I am going to start taking gelatin. I'm not crazy about it, hate the thoughts of its origin but if it helps, I'm all for it. I'm also going to start giving it to my two older dogs, one of whom has bone on bone arthritis and the other "regular" arthritis. This is an old age farm -lol-.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

That's great news and something to remember for future reference. Once again, an informative post.

TxFarmhouse said...

Leigh, that's very interesting. My son has a Weimeraner that grew so fast (when a puppy)that he had to treat him form giantism. He would spend most of his puppy life on ice beds. He's fine now.
That first picture of "poor Kris" will steal anyone's heart!

Leigh said...

Bettina, LOL. They sure do learn at an early age how to win their way into our hearts. So far so good with the gelatin.

Bernadine, I have a background in the medical field too. In fact having been a nurse in both hospital and doctor's office is one of the reasons I prefer natural cures!

Sharon, I hope it works for you. Don't have to hope actually, seems the results are encouraging for everyone who tries it.

Mama Pea, true about prices! I was glad to find a cheaper online source. The bulk comes to about 50 cents an ounce. Knox ranges from $1.50 - $1.75 per ounce, depending on where it's purchased. Great idea about the broth!

FFG, agreed about the pork. Part of it is getting away from strictly muscle meat and incorporating the rest of it into our diets. That will be an adjustment for me. :)

Sandra, thank you! I agree about it's origin. Not sure if the rationale "it's at least being used and not discarded" helps, but there is some truth in it. Our goal is to work toward a more traditional diet and not have to use gelatin as a supplement.

Candace, I hope you never need to use it!

Berte, I'd not heard of that. Kris grows so fast sometimes I wonder if he doesn't have a similar problem. I'll have to research. Thanks!

Ngo Family Farm said...

Wow, amazing!!

Renee Nefe said...

As I was reading your post I wondered if Kris was gonna be getting honeysuckle tea also. I think he would prefer the gelatin. I'm so glad that is working for him.
I may have to try that for my back & knee problems...probably wouldn't hurt Darly with her gymnastics injuries either.
You're causing a rush on gelatin. ;o)

sista said...

How did you get him to eat it? Mixed and in his food? My 10 year old golden had to be put "back together" when she was run over by a van at the tender age of 1 so I am concerned about that flaring up as she ages. She has already shown some back pain at times and still insists on jumping off the deck.

Leigh said...

Jaime, we thought so too!

Renee, well, I could always give them honeysuckle tea to drink. :) The gelatin is protein though, which dogs love in any form, so it's easy to feed. Most American diets are deficient in glycine, so it would probably help you both.

Sista, yes, in his food. If you feed moist, canned food, it would be easy to mix in. I usually mix it in a liquid first, like goats milk, raw egg, gravy, water, or broth, and then add the dry and mix the whole thing up. They really like it and will lick the bottom of the dish to get it all. It's protein after all. :)

DebbieB said...

Excellent news, Leigh! Once again, your research benefits us all. I have an overweight orange tomcat who jumps up and down from heights - I worry about his joints. If I can get him to ingest the gelatin, it will be helpful for him as well. And I'll start both myself and the husband on a regimen too. Thanks, dear!

Sherri B. said...

This is all such good news...thank you so much for this info. Both of our dogs are up in age and are getting so crippled up. We started them on Cosequin Plus several times but it seems to have odd effects..I keep thinking it might be my imagination, they seem to want to just sleep so I end up taking them off it.

I will be starting the dogs and us on the gelatin right away as both hubby and I have problems too.

I had a thought while reading your post...a few days ago I came across a recipe that I will be trying, in Mary Janes Farm magazine for Carrot Cake Jam, I was all excited about making it until I found you had to use 'her' Chill Over powder. I found that it is made from Agar-Agar, a seaweed product used to thicken just like gelatin. I am wondering if this would have the same effect.

Thanks again, I can see this info that you have provided today, actually changing lives.


Sylvanna said...

I love simple solutions like this. Lucky Kris.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leigh,

Love the pics of the pups -- especially the "Pet meeee" one. My chiropractor recommended fish oil tablets for arthritis in my back. I wonder it that would help the pups too. Thanks again for doing all the research on gelatin -- I will be looking at getting some of that too.

Jean -- MN

mrscravitz said...

Who knew! I think I will start my girls/dogs on the gelitin. Our oldest, Taumee has had and ACL surgery and now has arthritis in her other knee. PLUS I will start to take some too!

That first picture of Kris got a great big Awweee from me! Both are cute and so adorable! Love the pictures!

Leigh said...

Sherri, I hope this works for you as well as it is for us. Regarding the agar-agar, it's not the thickening quality, it's the glycine. You'd have to find out if it contains glycine.

I agree about prescription drugs, always side effects. The argument that it's worth the risk is largely relative and oftentimes the answer is a big fat NO.

Sylvanna, me too! Less side effects with good results. Whew.

Jean, they might, if we ever get to the arthritis stage. Hopefully it won't develop into that! Good to know about what helps thought.

Mrs Cravitz, I know! I hope it helps your Taumee. It doesn't take long to see the relief.

Helen said...

Your vet can diagnose dysplasia at any age, the OFA will only rule it out at 24 months with no signs in the x-rays you send them. The OFA is only used as a service to prove that yOur dog does not have it so you can breed healthier dogs. If a dog does not have faulty hips or elbows on an x-ray taken after 24 months of age, the experts state that the dog will not develop it at that point unless injured.

Michelle said...

Thanks for giving the best plant sources for us vegetarians! Methinks I need to buy some spirulenaa (we already eat a fair amount of soy, sunflower and sesame).

Anonymous said...

Wow, really good info Leigh! I had no idea about gelatin.

Stevie said...

I wonder if I can give gelatin to goats? Still have a goat recovering from contracted tendons and her legs seem so shaky and sore without the splints. I' be googing further, thanks for the tip!

Tami said...

SM suffers from gout and is getting arthritic "twinges" in his hip lately. I read your post to him and he's going to try it. Thank you SO MUCH!

Leigh said...

Helen, thank you. Your comment is appreciated.

Michelle, you're welcome. Glycine is nonessential as an amino acid, and our bodies can synthesize it from the amino acid serine. It is found in soy, sesame, and peanuts, but also egg whites and some cheeses. So unless your vegan, these would be good too. (List of food sources here.

Serine is also nonessential, but I'm not sure about what it needs. One source said it's synthesized from glycine, sort of a circular sort of thing(?) That's all getting out of my league however. :)

Stephanie, neither did I!

Stevie, that's a good question. My only hesitancy would be that goat's are strictly vegan by nature, so this would not be something they would ordinarily ingest. Do let me know what you find out though, I'd be interested!

Tami, it's definitely helped Dan. I hope it helps SM too!

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Another informative post. Glad Kris seems to be doing much better. The pups are sooooo cute.

Unknown said...

Leigh what a wonderful post, full of great information! I have a 10 y/o chocolate lab who blew out his acl earlier this year. He has adjusted and is able to get around really well however we worry about arthritis setting in. I will definitely give this a go and be part of the rush for Knox :) thanks again and happy to hear your sweet guy is feeling better.

Bec - Farmers Wife said...

Thanks for posting about this, it has and will be very benefical.

It is rewarding when you can find out info like this and then put it into practice, the dogs certainly look happier!

Swamp Dog said...

I'm going to try this for my bad knees!

Anonymous said...

I think you asked for some gel type recipes? My mother used to make a dish out of pigs feet. You cook them all day long, or until everything falls off the bones, take out the bones, pour everything else into a baking dish and refrigerate. After it gels, skim off the fat, cut a piece and enjoy!! Oh, almost forgot. Add salt and pepper to taste as it is cooking or after, and some people like to eat it with a little vinegar poured over top. As you can see, this is one of those old fashioned recipes.....a little of this and a little of that. BTW, I am a long time reader of your blog and LOVE IT! First time posting though. I have severe arthritis and am going to try the knox! Don't think I could eat enough pigs feet to make it work. :-)

Leigh said...

Norma, thanks!

Jen, thank you! I hope this helps your lab. It's tough to see them hurting.

Bec, thanks! I agree, it's very rewarding. :)

Swamp Dog, I hope it helps!

Joann, thank you so much. I agree about not being able to eat that many pigs feet, LOL. Still, I will definitely try this recipe some day. I think the old fashioned recipes are ones we never should have abandoned.

Theresa said...

What can I add? Poor Kris, I hope it's a lifelong fix for him. That's way to young to have joint problems.
I am certainly going to give the gelatin a try for myself and my dogs. Wonder if it works on horses? The horses are getting up there in ages and we have been thinking about joint supplements but the price to include those in the daily vit/mineral packs is about double.

Leigh said...

Theresa, I actually, I recently found an equine gelatin supplement, info here -

Lots of good information at that website. :)

Misty Pines Homestead said...

Hey Leigh I just wanted to drop by and tell you my pup had a hot spot between his tail and back,so I made up some lemon juice and water and doused him real good with it. It stopped his chewing. Just a heads up.

Leigh said...

Thank you for that! Tips like this are really helpful.

Anonymous said...

My favorite childhood gelatin food (sultz or aspic) from eastern Europe (still cook it in the US) was after butchering a pig, take the cleaned feet, tail, knuckles and submerge them in water in pressure cooker 40min (takes much longer without) and boil until all the bones and tissue comes completely apart. Take out the bones and the skin. Add salt and pepper to taste and about 1/2 cup of vinegar (important). Mix well. Dispense liquid and meat into ceramic bowls and put into very cold place. Next day flip the gelatin cakes out and pour some vinegar on top, salt and pepper and mustard and finely cut onion and eat with fresh bread. Yumm!

Leigh said...

Anonymous, thanks! Sounds like an Old World recipe that shouldn't be lost. Eventually we will raise pigs, so I will definitely now have a use for those parts. I appreciate this!

Lynda said...

This is fascinating, I had no idea.
I have a couple of things that might be helpful:
1) I notice your Amazon source of bulk gelatin is gone. You have probably got another one, but I have found that you can buy plain gelatin in 1-pound packages from restaurant food supply stores. Some require you to have a restaurant license or something, but our church does; someone bought it for me a few years ago for about $6.00. Not cheap, but lots cheaper than little packets. The supply store here that does not require a license currently has it for about $8.00.
2) Bad knees in humans can be ameliorated - or, if not too much damage has been done even cured permanently - by doing simple exercises to strengthen the muscles that surround the knee joint, especially the quads. But when you are already injured you must do this with no weight on the joint. A main function of muscles surrounding all joints is to stabilize and protect the joint from damage.
I have decades of personal experience with this, having torn up the meniscus of both knees in my early twenties. It is very important to avoid doing things that continue to damage the knee - e.g., never do deep knee bends or squats, never stand with the knees locked.
I can provide more information if you want to talk or email with me.

Leigh said...

Lynda, thank you for taking the time to share so much information. It's appreciated! Your mention of the gelatin source made me realize that this post is over 4 years old! It doesn't seem that long ago that we had Kris and Kody. You're correct about a new source. I buy from It's about $40 for 5 pounds, but they do give free shipping on orders of $75 or more, so I get it when I buy a few other items in bulk once a year or so.

I'll mention the other about the exercise to Dan. He understands it from a sports and weight lifting perspective, although his knees haven't been bothering him much lately. He only takes the gelatin when they do, and will just mix a spoonful in juice or water bleh. The aspic didn't interest him at all! LOL

Leigh said...

And four years later I just made my first (tomato) aspic. I had forgotten about this recipe but am interested to give it a try.