Surprise- the same product you’ve seen marketed towards wrinkle-free skin and better performance in the gym offers big benefits to your furry friend! Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, uses its fibrous structure to build and maintain connective tissue in our bones, muscles, tendons, and skin (1). Natural, single-ingredient collagen chews for dogs provide healthy protein without grain or gluten, and can also help clean plaque and tartar for added dental benefits.
Whether found in foods like meat and eggs, or supplemented in treats like our new line of collagen sticks, bone and joint, digestion, and skin problems can all be helped by slipping your pup a little extra collagen, side-effect-free (2). So, what are all the benefits that collagen has to offer?
Joint, Bone, and Muscle Health
Collagen has been shown to treat and prevent joint and bone issues in our dogs. A 2014 study divided a group of over 100 Labradors and provided half with a collagen supplement. The study showed that the supplemented Labs had a lower chance of developing painful symptoms of elbow dysplasia (2, 3), and that collagen could prevent arthritis if supplements are started early in life (2).
Age-related joint pain has also shown to benefit from collagen. Just like humans, dogs lose collagen in their joints as they age, playing a role in the development of arthritis, degenerative disc disease and tendonitis - the biggest causes of pain in senior dogs (4). A 2017 paper noted that clinical trials show benefits of collagen for dogs with osteoarthritis, and decreased lameness and increased mobility (5).
Digestion, Appetite, and Gut Health
Collagen offers a range of benefits throughout the gut, where about 70% of a dog's immune system lives. It assists in breaking down other proteins, soothes the lining of the gut, and protects the lining of the gastrointestinal tract by helping form connective tissue and healing amino acids (4).
When inflammation occurs in a dog’s digestive system, leaky gut syndrome can develop, allowing toxins, allergens, bacteria, and yeast into the bloodstream, and setting off inflammation throughout their entire body. Collagen’s soothing properties improve leaky gut syndrome and other related gut issues (6).
Veterinarians have found that collagen injections help treat incontinence in dogs where other treatments failed, eliminating challenging cases by more than 90% over 18 months (7). Collagen also acts as a natural antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body. In multiple studies, researchers found that collagen’s chemical makeup allows it to neutralize free radicals, which can significantly influence premature aging of the body and its tissues (10, 11).
When added to a dogs’ diet, collagen has been shown to promote a healthy appetite in our precious pooches, improving healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. It’s also delicious, even for the pickiest pups! The best collagen is sourced from animals, like meat, eggs, bone broth, and single ingredient collagen chews, making it a tasty treat (9).
Skin, Coat, and Nail Health
Just like some humans in your life take a collagen supplement for skin and hair, these same benefits apply to dogs. Collagen provides a significant proportion of the skin’s protein content, and boosts skin elasticity (8,9). Low collagen levels can contribute to itching, shedding, and other skin issues, as well as weak, brittle nails. Dogs with a healthy level of collagen tend to shed less, itch less, and have a softer, shinier coat than dogs with reduced levels (9).
All in all, collagen is a small part of your dogs’ diet with massive full-body benefits. Vets recommend supplementation in dogs with low collagen levels, using natural sources for the highest level of benefit. All natural bovine collagen sticks are sourced from the middle dermal layer of the skin, known as the corium or dermis.
Though they come from similar sources, collagen is not to be confused with rawhide, which is sourced from the outer layer of the skin - the epidermis - and chemically treated with harsh toxins.
These sticks offer digestive, musculoskeletal, and skin health boosting properties while being a delicious, long-term chew for your dog. Look for collagen sticks that are made with only a single ingredient, like those available through Bow Wow Labs, and ensure that your dog is supervised while chewing to avoid choking risks, even when using a chew stick safety device, like the Bow Wow Buddy.
Johnna Devereaux is a Clinical Pet Nutritionist and canine wellness expert. She is the Director of Nutrition and Wellness for Bow Wow Labs and sits on their Board of Advisors.
The points of view expressed above are those of our clinical nutritionist and supported by science, her education and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspect or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.
- Collagen | The nutrition source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/
- Efficacy of an oral hyaluronate and collagen supplement as a preventive treatment of elbow dysplasia: Martí-Angulo et al; J Vet Sci., 2014; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269601/
- Canine elbow dysplasia: American College of Veterinary Surgeons; https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/canine-elbow-dysplasia
- 5 Reasons dogs need collagen in their diet; Fantegrossi; I Heart Dogs; https://iheartdogs.com/5-reasons-dogs-need-collagen-in-their-diet/
- The effectiveness of specific collagen peptides on osteoarthritis in dogs-Impact on metabolic processes in canine chondrocytes: Schunk et al; Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 2017; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318226414
- Leaky gut syndrome in dogs: Heal with home remedies: Scott; Dogs Naturally, 2022; https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/leaky-gut-syndrome-in-dogs/
- Incontinence in dogs: Collagen treatment can help: Tufts University, 2011; https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/leaky-gut-syndrome-in-dogs/
- The power of probiotics: Cornell Margaret and Richard Riney Canine Health Center; https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/power-probiotics
- Collagen for dogs: What is it and why does your dog need it?: Homes Alive Pets, 2021; https://blog.homesalive.ca/dog-blog/collagen-for-dogs
- Antioxidant and functional properties of collagen hydrolysates from Spanish mackerel skin as influenced by average molecular weight: Chi et al, National Library of Medicine, 2014; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6271556/
- Oxidative damage to collagen: Monboissehttps, Borel; EXS,volume 62, 1992; pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1333311/