SPECIFIC Nutrition – Joint Diets | Dechra UK

SPECIFIC joint and mobility diets for dogs and cats

SPECIFIC joint support diets include high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, and added ß-1,3/1,6-glucans, chondroitin and , in dog diets, hydrolysed collagen peptides to support cartilage and the body’s natural antiinflammatory process. Moderate energy density helps regain and maintain optimal body weight.

Urinary Range Shot

In a healthy joint, bones will have a regular structure and the ends have a regular and thick layer of cartilage which is important for gentle movement and shock absorption. In healthy joints, there is a balance of cartilage being broken down and being rebuilt in order to maintain a normal healthy joint structure and function. 

Osteoarthritis occurs when the rate of cartilage rebuild is slower than the rate of breakdown. This is usually due to old age, disease, genetics, vigorous exercise or being overweight.              

When the cartilage layer between the 2 bones is degraded, the ends of the bones move over each other resulting in pain and inflammation. The structure of the bones may also become irregular causing new bone to form at the joint margin of the bones (osteophytes).

Once cartilage degradation occurs it can lead to a vicious circle causing further inflammation and degradation. 

  • Natural balance between degradation and synthesis of new cartilage is disturbed resulting in net degradation of cartilage during osteoarthritis
  • Resulting in release of pro-inflammatory mediators
  • These pro-inflammatory cytokines increase the activity of cartilage degrading enzymes
  • Leading to further degradation of the cartilage
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines also increase the release of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids from AA further increasing inflammation
  • AA-derived eicosanoids also reduce the pain threshold and induces vasodilatation and swelling of the joints
  • A self perpetuating system, with degradation leading to more release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which cause more inflammation and more degradation of cartilage…



Although the condition is most common in dogs, the condition is also prevalent in cats with it affecting 61% of cats over 6, but it is often less recognisable due to a cat’s ability to mask their pain.  Upon seeing visible pain and discomfort, dog owners are more likely to take their dog to the vets than cat owners. For these reasons osteoarthritis is more likely to be diagnosed in dogs.

Feline LUTD

It is estimated that osteoarthritis affects up to 20% of dogs that are older than 1 year. But as dogs get older, the chance of developing osteoarthritis increases with the condition affecting over 90% aged 5 and over.

Canine LUTD

Engaging with owners

It is important to help owners understand that osteoarthritis is a condition that can and should be managed and is not just a natural and inevitable part of ageing. 

This can be done by increasing awareness amongst pet owners, especially those with dogs and cats with significant risk factors such as old age, being overweight or being a breed genetically predisposed to osteoarthritis.

Encouraging owners to consider the range of pain indicators can help them realise that this is something they need to address.

Signs of osteoarthritis include:

  • Limping and stiffness 
  • Difficulty in rising, jumping or climbing stairs 
  • Reluctance to walk or play 
  • Reduced interaction 
  • Change in mood 
  • Weight gain due to reduced activity 
  • Reduced appetite due to pain 

Referring pet owners to the pain scoring chart should encourage them to look for changes in the animal’s behavior that may indicate a stiffening of the joints. 

Click here to download a pain scoring chart



Multimodal management of joint problems is necessary and aims to reduce clinical signs and pain.

Medical - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can often help in the reduction of inflammation and have some pain relieving effects. However, they do not treat the cartilage degradation.

Exercise - Regular, gentle exercise can help to stimulate the condition of all parts of the musculoskeletal system, helping to strengthen muscles, tendons and joint function.

Diet and Nutrition - Special diets and supplements can be used which can help weight management, reduce inflammation and cartilage degradation.

A joint support diet can help to reduce inflammation, support the production of articular cartilage and protect the cartilage from degradation, and help manage weight through reduced energy content. All these components are important for the diet to be effective for the animal. 

How omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids reduce inflammation

Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty can be metabolised into eicosanoids - locally active, short-living, hormone-like mediators 

Eicosanoids from omega-6 fatty acid AA are inflammatory 

Eicosanoids from omega-3 fatty acid  EPA and omega-6 fatty acid DGLA are not inflammatory. 

EPA, DGLA and AA compete for the same enzymatic pathways so a strong presence of EPA and DGLA will block the production of inflammatory eicosanoids, inhibiting inflammation.

EPA is ONLY found in marine sources, (fish/krill), whilst DGLA (omega-6) is found in borage oil among others. Whilst Omega-3 (ALA) from plant sources (flaxseed/soy) can be converted in the body to EPA by enzymes, the process is very limited (<5%). Preformed EPAS omega 3 from marine sources, thus have a much greater anti-inflammatory effect. 

The importance of managing obesity in joint problems

Obesity is both a cause and a result of osteoarthritis - obesity increases the breakdown of cartilage, which contributes to the development of osteoarthritis, while the reduced mobility caused by pain contributes to weight gain. Adipose tissue itself produces inflammatory substances which in turn can negatively affect inflammation in the joints.

Diet is essential for weight control and a high quality joint diet should therefore have a reduced energy density. A restricted energy intake reduces the risk of obesity and also the risk of developing osteoarthritis. In an overweight dog with clinical signs of osteoarthritis, losing weight often reduces symptoms.

Dietary supplements such as L-carnitine, which increases fat burning, can be help with weight management.

How nutrition can support Cartilage

Nutrition can help reduce the degradation of cartilage and support the synthesis of new cartilage.

GAGs (Glycosamine glycans) are a major component of cartilage and are vital in the maintenance of healthy joints. They link with long chains of proteins called proteoglycans. 

These are then able to bind with water and make cartilage become an elastic and viscous substance, which is very important for the shock absorbing function of the cartilage. 

In addition to helping reduce inflammation Omega-3 fatty acids can also cartilage by reducing degradation and increasing the synthesis of proteoglycans. 

In an in-vitro (isolated environment) study, conducted by Curtis et al. (2002), cartilage tissue with arthritis was cultured in a medium without EPA or increasing levels of EPA. Cartilage degradation was measured by the release of GAGs in the medium. It was discovered that higher levels of the Omega-3 fatty acid EPA reduced the levels of GAGs released indicating a reduced rate of cartilage degradation. 

Anti-oxidants also play a vital role in supporting cartilage. 

During an inflammatory reaction, free radicals (such as nitric oxide) are formed which react with the joint tissue and can cause further damage to cartilage. Anti-oxidants can help to neutralise the cartilage degrading radicals helping to reduce cartilage degradation. 

Manganese is an essential cofactor in the synthesis of proteoglycans important for maintaining cartilage. Therefore it is important that dogs and cats diets have sufficient levels of anti-oxidants

The Role of Nutrition in Managing Osteoarthritis

This interactive course explores the condition, its causes and how nutrition can be used to effectively manage osteoarthritis helping you to become more confident in discussing osteoarthritis with dog and cat owners.

Register for the Dechra Academy

Already registered for the Dechra Academy? - go directly to the course:

Access the module on managing osteoarthritis


Dechra Academy The Role of Nutrition in Managing Allergies and Atopic Dermatitis

The Dechra academy provides a range of on-line learning including this course related to urinary disease

SPECIFIC Joint Support CJD/FJD/FJW- promotes healthy joints and mobility

  • Uniquely high levels of omega-3 from fish and krill - supports the body's anti-inflammatory processes and reduces the activity of cartilage-degrading enzymes
  • Low energy content - low fat and high fibre and added L-carnitine which can increase fat burning
  • Hydrolysed collagen peptides - increases cartilage tissue biosynthesis, reduce inflammatory and cartilage degradation mediators in joints
  • Chondroitin and glucosamine (only in FJD/FJW) - important components of cartilage
  • High levels of antioxidants - can neutralise increased levels of cartilage-degrading free radicals 
  • Increased amount of manganese - an essential cofactor in the synthesis of cartilage

SPECIFIC Joint Support has uniquely high levels of EPA and DHA

SPECIFIC Joint and Mobility Diets - FAQ's

Yes, SPECIFICTM Joint Support can be used in combination with NSAIDs.

In humans with arthritis, supplementation with fish oil reduced the required dose of NSAIDs to control pain (Kremer et al. 1995, Lau et al. 1993). Also in a study by Fritsch et al 2010, it was found that a diet enriched with fish oil (Hill’s j/d) could reduce the required dose of NSAIDs in dogs with OA.

It should be noted that it will take several weeks before the full benefit of SPECIFICTM Joint Support will be obtained and the required dose of NSAIDs can be settled.

Yes, SPECIFICTM CJD Joint Support is a complete diet which supplies as all the nutrient requirements of adult dogs. It can therefore also be used as maintenance diet for normal dogs without osteoarthritis (OA), but is specially suited for adult dogs without OA, which have an increased risk on the development of OA. An increased risk on the development of OA can be related to the dog’s breed, history of joint problems (hip dysplasia, luxations, abnormal joint formation, osteochondrosis), trauma caused by injuries and accidents, history of vigorous exercise and overweight. SPECIFICTM CJD Joint Support can support the maintenance of healthy joints and mobility in these dogs at risk.

This will depend on the dose of GAGs, which a vet wants to prescribe for an individual dog with osteoartritis (OA). Some vets prescribe Cosequin (from Nutramax; most frequently used preparation of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate) for dogs with OA. For Cosequin it is advised to start on a high initial dose (around 300 mg GLU + 250 mg CS/MJ), which can then further be stepwise reduced until the required dosing is achieved. The level of glucosamine + chondroitin sulphate in SPECIFICTM CJD Joint Support is 150 mg/MJ. This level is lower than the initial dose of Cosequin. However, if the dose of Cosequin is reduced to maintenance levels (which can vary for individual dogs), the level of GAGs provided through SPECIFICTM CJD Joint Support is quite similar and additional Cosequin is not be needed anymore.

For individual cases, where the vet wants to prescribe higher maintenance levels of GAGs, the required dose of Cosequin can be reduced because a major part of the GAGs will already be provided through the diet.

(Please note that SPECIFICTM CJD Joint Support does not only have GAGs as effective component. The presence of other active components like fish oil and antioxidants will contribute to the beneficial effect of the diet and may reduce the required dose of Cosequin as well).


For additional information including answers to SPECIFIC questions:

Visit the SPECIFIC FAQ page

Urinary Diet Resources

Urinary Diets Data Sheet

Full product data sheets are available at the SPECIFIC product information book including

  • Indications for each diet
  • Properties and rational for the composition
  • Ingredients
  • Feeding amounts
  • Nutrient data
  • Any contra indications

Click here

SPECIFIC owner website

The SPECIFIC owner web sites provide a valuable tool to help explain nutrition to your clients.  With pages talking about the condition and the role nutrition plays in supporting management of those conditions and details of the individual products that you may be recommending.

If you would like to link to the SPECIFIC owner web sites, the address is www.specific-diets.co.uk/



A simple leaflet explaining SPECIFIC urinary diets for cats that you can e mail to your clients

Click here to download

A simple leaflet explaining SPECIFIC urinary diets for dogs that you can e mail to your clients

Click here to download

A leaflet for owners explaining how nutrition can support urinary health

(3 products)

Joint Support, Cat (2 products)

Joint Support, Dog