Collagen for Dogs: Everything You Wanted to Ruff, er, Know

UPDATED LAST ON

September 8, 2022

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Medically Reviewed ✓

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By Dr. Cate, M.D., a board-certified family physician, biochemist trained at Cornell University, and New York Times Bestseller.

Dr. Cate's Takeaway

Just like humans, dogs need collagen as they age. You can either provide that collagen naturally through bones, homemade broths, chews, etc. or a quality collagen supplement.

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Quick Summary

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your dog’s body, found in joints, cartilage, blood vessels, gut, skin, and more. Dogs, like humans, lose collagen as they age, which unfortunately creates an array of health problems such as arthritis, coat and skin issues, digestive problems, and more. As owners, we can’t stop the aging process, but we can slow it down. Collagen can help improve a dog’s health in a variety of ways helping them navigate the aging process gracefully. Collagen is generally safe for both humans and animals, easy to provide naturally (e.g. bones, chews) or by supplements (powders, pills). If choosing a supplement, ensure GMP certification, quality sourcing, and clean ingredients free of additives that could be harmful.

Let’s face it, nobody looks forward to getting old.

Achy backs, stiff hips, sore knees. Before long, you’re popping aspirins like they’re Tic Tacs.

As much as we don’t like the idea of aging, it’s even worse when we see aging in our 4-legged best friend.

Dog Aging 101

If you’re a dog owner, and we assume you are since you’re here, you know this feeling. Maybe their first limp after a nap. A new lump on their back. Some gray in their coat. This is heartbreaking stuff.

Life without your canine sidekick is a hard reality to face. Unlike humans, dogs can’t tell us when their joints hurt or if their stomach bothers them, and that adds insult to injury as we watch our dogs age in front of our eyes.

Signs your dog is aging

Signs your Dog is Aging

Here are the most common signs that age is catching up with your dog physically:

    • Difficulty getting around (e.g. stairs, jumping into the car)
    • Less energy
    • Cloudy eyes
    • New lumps & bumps
    • Incontinence
    • White on their muzzle

Different breeds and sizes of dogs age at different rates. The more tuned-in you are to the typical signs, the sooner you can help your dog age gracefully.AKC

Problems dogs experience as they age

Here are 5 of the most common health issues dogs face as they get older:

  1. Arthritis in hips, elbows, shoulders. Poor diet, injuries, activity levels, obesity, metabolic disease, and age all contribute to dogs developing arthritis.
  2. Brittle/Dry/Losing hair. Diseases, infections, allergies, and pressure sores can all cause hair loss. Also, a general lack of vitamins and moisture in the skin can cause the hair to be brittle or dry.
  3. Loose bowels. Poor performing digestive systems do not create strong bowel movements. What contributes to bad digestion? Stress, poor diet, lack of activity, poor sleep, and loads of medications all cause inflammation. This unleashes a whole ‘nother beast. Pun intended.
  4. Collapsing trachea. A dog’s trachea is made up of cartilage rings with a soft membrane at the dorsal tip. As they get older, this membrane tends to loosen. Although more common in small dogs, this condition can happen in any breed.
  5. Loss of appetite. Older dogs don’t need the same amount of calories they once did. Even so, a healthy appetite is part of a normal life. If your older dog doesn’t seem as hungry as it once did, check with your vet. If diseases and infections have been ruled out, pain or discomfort could be to blame.

What causes dogs to age?

Old Dog Limping because of arthritis
In dogs, a decrease in collagen production is commonly seen in joint and ligament issues.

This may seem like a silly question for us to answer. We all age. Humans. Dogs. Even bowhead whales who live to see TWO centuries (impressive) show signs of aging.

Yes, dogs have shorter lifespans living an average of 10 to 18 years. Aside from their genetic differences, what specifically causes them to age?

Collagen. It’s both the problem and the answer.

Collagen loss

If you’re new to collagen, we’d recommend starting with what is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies (and your dog’s body!) It’s found in connective tissue (joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage), blood vessels, gut lining, skin, and much more. But, collagen production starts to decline as we age, and the aging process, unfortunately, sets in.

The bad news is there’s no way for your dog to 100% avoid losing collagen. But, here’s the good news.

There are things you can do to slow down this process.

For dogs to feel young and vibrant as long as possible, dogs need to actively replace what’s being lost.

Hello, collagen.

"They Love the Taste!"

"My dogs love the taste. Their coats are looking great and Hooper hasn’t had a limp from a long rest in a couple of months!"

- Tim B. (El Paso, TX)

28 Calories

7g Protein

Pet Flavored

Dog Collagen Intro

As we explored above, when dogs age, their bodies change.

This means their nutrition should change, too.

We’re very transparent that we believe humans should get our proper nutrition from food first, then supplement. Dogs are no different. In addition to making sure your dog eats good quality dog food, supplements — like collagen protein powder — become essential toward the later years.

Benefits of Collagen for your Dog

Benefits of Giving Your Dog Collagen
Is collagen good for dogs?

As humans, we can actively decide to supplement. But, dogs? Of course, they can’t do the same — even Chaser, the late smartest dog in the world, couldn’t buy a multi collagen supplement on his own! We as dog owners must make this decision to adjust their diet and provide them with the proper nutrition they need.

Here are the 6 benefits of adding collagen to your dog’s diet:

  1. Pain & Arthritis Relief
  2. Healthy Coat
  3. Skin Health
  4. Joint & Bone Health
  5. Improves Digestion
  6. Can Increase Appetite

Let’s explore each benefit below.

1. Pain & Arthritis Relief

The loss of collagen plays a big part in tendonitis, arthritis, and degenerative disc diseases. Adding collagen back in can help fill in those gaps and provide pain relief. According to The Arthritis Foundation, Type II collagen can be helpful for arthritic joints.

Key Note: Only multi collagen protein supplements will include Type II collagen in their supplement.

2. Healthy Coat

Your hair is made up of protein. As your dog ages, the loss of collagen can result in dull, dry, or brittle hair. Or hair loss! Adding collagen can help replenish proteins back into the follicles, returning it to a healthy shine.

2 fancy dogs with healthy coat because of collagen
Your dog deserves to look fabulous.

3. Skin Health

Collagen in your dog’s diet can help increase elasticity and improve mild skin conditions, such as itchiness or dryness.

4. Joint & Bone health

Most of your dog’s muscles, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are made from collagen. Fun fact, so are humans! Adding collagen can increase strength and support on a cellular level, which can help prevent or reduce injury. This is why every sporting dog (aka canine athlete) engaged in regular physical activity (agility, dock diving, police/military, tricks, showing, etc.) should take collagen.

5. Improves Digestion

Collagen is known to “seal and heal” the gut lining because collagen contains unique amino acids and bioactive peptides. Adding it to your dog’s diet can help repair damage in the digestive tract, promoting healthy poops. 💩

6. Can Increase Appetite

Sometimes dogs don’t eat well because they’re hurting (literally). As your dog takes collagen, you may notice an increase in appetite. Because of the high nutrient content, it’s often a tasty snack and can be offered on top of food to promote an empty bowl.

And when we say dogs lick the bowl, what we really mean is they’ll hammer the bowl!

Now that we have covered the benefits of giving your dog collagen, let’s talk safety.

Dog Collagen Safety: Possible Risks, Side Effects

Can dogs take collagen? Is it safe for dogs?

While taking collagen is generally considered safe, every dog is different and it can have relatively rare side effects on occasion. Here are some potential risks and side effects to watch out for:

  • hives
  • skin
  • rashes
  • wheezing
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

What about fish? Specifically red snapper?

Is the Snapper Fish in Your Pet Collagen Safe for Dogs?
Learn more about snapper fish and pet collagen safety.

First of all, dogs can eat fish safely. But, is that all fish?

Since some collagen powders use fish as a source, is there safety concerns if it’s red snapper? The key here is the ciguatera toxin, a type of food poisoning, found in large reef fish (like red snapper) that is poisonous to humans and dogs.

The ciguatera toxin builds up mostly in the organs of the fish and it is not found in fish skin or bones — which is where our collagen comes from.Dr. Cate, M.D.

Since our dog collagen comes from the skin and bones of red snapper fish — where the ciguatera toxin does not concentrate — those parts should be safe for pooches (and people).

Can dogs take collagen for humans?

Dog looking at dinner plate wanting human collagen
Sharing is caring?

Do dogs need a special kind of collagen, or will human-grade collagen do the trick? If you’re using a clean and quality unflavored collagen powder, your dog can take it safely since the ingredients are also pet-friendly.

With that said, here are two things to avoid when deciding on whether to give your dog human collagen:

  1. Sweeteners. Though flavored multi collagen is delicious for humans, we wouldn’t recommend giving it to your dog. Natural flavors such as stevia and monk fruit (our choice of sweetener) are safe for dogs in small amounts, other artificial sweeteners are not for dogs. Just play it safe and avoid all sweetened collagen.
  2. Added artificial ingredients or preservatives. Many collagen supplements today want to add in all the buzz-worthy things to make their collagen “better” such as vitamins, minerals, candy sprinkles — ok, maybe not sprinkles. We believe collagen is awesome on its own, so we don’t add tryptophan to our collagen nor do we add vitamin C to our collagen. Avoid human collagens with added anything when giving to your dog — they’ll thank you for it.
Key note: A quality dog collagen with provide some simple natural flavoring to make it tastier for dogs to consume. So though you can give your dog unflavored collagen, just know they probably won’t gobble it up as fast as collagen with a little dog-friendly flavoring.

How to Give Dogs Collagen

If you’re looking to use a collagen powder, rather than pills, treats, etc. — this is a snap!

How to give collagen to your dog steps

Here are the steps to giving your dog a collagen powder supplement:

  1. Add a scoop of collagen to your dog’s dry or wet food (see dosage below)
  2. Add a little water
  3. Swoosh around (if dry food) or stir it in (if wet food) — it’ll dissolve pretty easily
  4. Stand back and let them devour it!

Or, just watch this little video and see how much your dog will love it!

Dosage

All collagen supplements will be a little different in their serving size. Here’s what we recommend with our dog collagen powder based on weight.

  • 0 to 20lbs = ¼ scoop per day
  • 20 to 40lbs = ½ scoop per day
  • 40 to 60lbs = ¾ scoop per day
  • 60 to 80lbs = 1 scoop per day

Recipes using dog collagen

If your dog happens to be a culinary snob extraordinaire and demanding a little more creativity than just kibble, water, and collagen — here are some easy recipes using dog collagen that’ll wildly impress.

  1. Scrambled eggs. Scrambling up some eggs is a great way to add extra nutrition to your dog’s food. Throw some collagen in while cooking or simply dash on top of finished eggs and watch the bowl be licked clean.
  2. Bone broth. The best collagen you can get is from bone broth. You can serve it by itself, or mix it with food. To do this, you’ll need chicken or beef bones and water. You can crockpot them, simmer or keep them at a low boil for 12 – 16 hours. Check out this recipe from Honest & Tasty. For dogs, leave extra flavors, salts, and spices out.
  3. Broth popsicles. For hot summer days, try freezing bone broth into popsicle molds. Your dog will love the frozen collagen treat, and you’ll love the health benefits they get from it!
Safety Tip: When making bone broth, discard onions, garlic, or scallions. Some dogs have adverse reactions to these veggies.

Natural sources of collagen for dogs

Bones are natural sources of collagen for dogs
Give a dog a bone? YES!

If you’re not much of a cook, don’t worry. Here are a few ways you can get collagen protein into your dog’s diet simply and easily.

  1. Beef tendons. Full of connective tissue and contain glucosamine and chondroitin.
  2. Natural chews. Look for chews free from grain, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy.
  3. Bones. Bones are calcified collagen!

Keep in mind that store-bought products with collagen may contain preservatives, artificial ingredients, and other chemicals that may not be great for your dog. Read the labels!

Tips for Buying a Dog Collagen Supplement

Not all collagen supplements are made the same. Here are 3 things to prioritize when looking to buy a dog collagen supplement.

  1. Sourcing/Ingredients. Check that label and read those ingredients! Choose grass-fed pasture-raised beef, cage-free chicken/eggs, and wild-caught fish — ingredients to a multi collagen protein supplement.
  2. Manufacturing. Look for GMP Certification (Good Manufacturing Practices). Though this doesn’t guarantee a quality product, it does mean the collagen is certified through the FDA. Don’t take a chance on a collagen supplement without GMP Certification.
  3. Clean. Non-GMO and free of all the things (gluten, dairy, soy, artificial sweeteners).

Final Thoughts

Collagen is found in just about every nook and cranny of the body. Both humans and dogs need a steady supply to stay young and healthy. Over time, your dog’s body doesn’t make collagen like it did in its younger days.

Adding collagen protein to a dog’s diet, through a dog collagen supplement or naturally, will be one of the most important nutritional decisions you can make for your furry friend!

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This Collagen College™ article created by:

Author

Charlie Bailes - Founder CB Supplements

Charlie Bailes

If you've bought our multi collagen, there's a pretty darn good chance you've received an awesome personalized thank you note from Charlie. Aside from caring A LOT about customer appreciation, he's also our Founder and CEO and responsible for assembling our great team and vision.

Contributors

Eric Sharp CMO

Eric Sharp

Eric discovered collagen back in 2019 (thanks to Charlie) and been a believer since. He brings 20+ years of digital marketing experience to the CB Supplements team. As CMO, he's directly responsible for crafting the CB Supplements positioning, content, branding, and overall marketing direction.

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