Dog Arthritis Pain Relief: UC-II Better Than Glucosamine & Chondroitin For Joint Support

One in four pet dogs suffer from arthritis in the United States.

The rate continues to rise due to a growing pet obesity epidemic.

Arthritis is the most common obesity-related disease in dogs. Currently, more than half U.S dogs (and cats) are overweight or obese.

natural pain relief for dog arthritis, undenatured type 2 collagen

In the UK, one in three pet dogs is overweight or obese. Since 2015, the number of treatments for arthritis in dogs have more than trebled. Excess weight is to blame for soaring rates of arthritis in dogs in this country.

Types & Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that commonly affects large breed dogs. Factors that contribute to arthritis are obesity, insufficient exercise, aging, joint infection, physical injury, immune disorder or genetic predisposition.

The two common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In dogs, osteoarthritis is more prevalent than rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system attacks lining of joints. The inflamed joint lining leads to bone and cartilage destruction, and loss of function. This highly disabling disease causes pain, swelling and stiffness in multiple joints.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that involves cartilage breakdown and bone remodelling. Atlhough it is often thought to result from wear and tear on joints, increasing evidence shows that inflammation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OA.

Dogs with arthritis tend to ignore the soreness and discomfort. Hence, arthritic signs are only noticeable when the disease has progressed significantly. Dogs are usually limping and not able to move normally.

Conventional Treatment For Arthritis in Dogs

The present treatment of arthritis in dogs involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for relieving pain and inflammation. However, chronic use of these drugs are associated with side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and, liver and kidney dysfunction.

Hence, there’s a need for safe treatment of arthritis in dogs. Nutraceuticals have received much attention due to their potential nutritional, safety and therapeutic effects. They are considered safe and well tolerated.

Undenatured type 2 collagen (UC-II) is a novel nutraceutical ingredient that interferes with the destructive inflammatory process and prevents cartilage breakdown in arthritis. As an alternative treatment, UC-II provides natural pain relief for dogs with arthritis.

Several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy and safety of UC-II in dogs, horses and humans.

Undenatured Type 2 Collagen (UC-II) & Arthritis

Animal and human studies have shown that oral administration of native or undenatured type 2 collagen (UC-II) prevents and improves RA and OA.

Type 2 Collagen: A Potential Antigen For RA & OA

The antigen (causative agent) of RA is unclear. However, type 2 collagen is a potential antigen as it is the most abundant protein of joint cartilage. In addition, animals injected with type 2 collagen developed inflammatory arthritis similar to RA. This suggests that immune responses to type 2 collagen could play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. For unexplained reasons, the immune system identifies type 2 collagen as an antigen, i.e. a foreign or harmful substance, and attacks it. This results in progressive degeneration of the joint structure and function, accompanied by joint swelling, pain and inflammation.

Degradation products of type 2 collagen in urine are also associated with the progression of articular damage in OA.

How Does UC-II Work?

UC-II works via oral tolerance, a method that suppresses antigen specific immune response after oral application of antigen.

When taken orally, low doses of UC-II antigen interact with  gut-associated lymphoid tissue (the largest organ immune system in the body) in the small intestines to turn off T-cell attack to type 2 collagen in the cartilage. This desensitisation process (a.k.a. oral tolerance) prevents the immune system from recognising endogenous type 2 collagen in the cartilage as antigen.

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Mechanism of action of UC-II in osteoarthritis.


Studies of Undenatured Type II Collagen In Arthritic Dogs

1. One study1 evaluated the therapeutic efficacy and safety of undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) in moderately arthritic dogs that received daily placebo or 40 mg type II collagen (10 mg active UC-II) for 120 days, followed by a 30-day withdrawal.


  • After 120 days of UC-II treatment, dogs showed significant reduction in overall pain (77%), and pain after limb manipulation (83%) and exercise (84%).
  • Dogs on placebo showed no significant change in arthritic conditions.
  • No adverse effects.

Conclusion: UC-II significantly reduced arthritic pain and is well tolerated.

2. One study2 compared the therapeutic efficacy and safety of UC-II alone or in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in arthritic dogs.

20 dogs were divided into 4 groups and given daily oral treatment for 120 days:
– group 1: placebo
– group 2: 10 mg UC-II
– group 3: 2,000 mg glucosamine + 1,600 mg chondroitin
– group 4: 10 mg UC-II + 2,000 mg glucosamine + 1,600 mg chondroitin,
followed by a 30-day withdrawal period.


  • Treatment with UC-II alone or in combination with glucosamine + chondroitin resulted in significant improvement in the overall pain, pain upon limb manipulation and pain after physical exertion.
  • The UC-II group (ie. group 2) showed the greatest physical improvements.
  • After a 30-day withdrawal period, all treated dogs suffered from a relapse of arthritis signs and symptoms.
  • None of the dogs showed any adverse effects.

Conclusion: Daily treatment of arthritic dogs with UC-II alone or in combination with glucosamine + chondroitin improved signs and symptoms of arthritis significantly greater than glucosamine + chondroitin. The supplements are well tolerated as no side effects were noted. The relapse seen in dogs 30 days following withdrawal of supplements indicated that continuous treatment is required.

3. Following study #2 above, a longer study3 was conducted to compare the therapeutic efficacy and safety of type-II collagen (UC-II) alone or in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic dogs but with pain evaluation using ground force plate.

Force plate is a diagnostic tool to evaluate lameness with precision. A dog is walked across the force plate, mounted in the ground. It measures the weight applied by each limb.A dog with arthritis may have joint pain, swelling and/or inflammation and thus, bears less weight on the affected limb as it uses other joints to compensate.

Dogs with moderate arthritis were divided into 4 groups (7-10 per group) and treated daily for 150 days with:
– group 1: placebo
– group 2: 10 mg UC-II
– group 3: 2,000 mg glucosamine + 1,600 mg chondroitin
– group 4: 10 mg UC-II + 2,000 mg glucosamine + 1,600 mg chondroitin


  • Significant reduction in observational pain (overall pain, pain upon manipulation and pain after physical exertion) in group 2, 3 and 4 dogs.
  • Using ground force plate, only dogs in group 2 showed significantly increase in weight placed on their arthritic limbs, indicating a reduction in arthritis associated pain.
  • No adverse effects.

Conclusion: Based on ground force plate data, moderately arthritic dogs treated with UC-II showed significant reduction in arthritic pain  with maximum improvement by day 150. All supplements were well tolerated during the study period.

A study4 on the efficacy of UC-II in arthritic horses also found that treatment with UC-II significantly reduced artritic pain and was more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin.

Why The Undenatured (Native) Form Of Type 2 Collagen Is Important

Studies show that type 2 collagen in the undenatured form induces oral tolerance while the denatured form does not.

Denatured (hydrolised) type 2 collagen has been processed with harsh chemical or high temperature, which makes it inacitve and ineffective in modulating immune responses. No studies have shown that denatured type 2 collagen is beneficial for arthritis. In fact, the administration of denatured type 2 collagen has no observable effect on the incidence or severity of arthritis. Unfortunately, most type 2 collagen supplements contain the denatured form.

The UC-II used in the research studies is derived from chicken sternum cartilage.arthropet neocell type 2 collagen, dog arthritis supplement

RELATED: “ArthroPet Collagen Pet Rescue – Type 2 collagen supplement to support healthy and strong joints in pets”

The Bottom Line

The standard medical treatment for arthritis has been symptom-modifying drugs such as analgesics, NSAIDs and corticosteroids. These drugs only relieve pain and/or inflammation associated with arthritis, and have no long term impact on the disease itself.

The use of glucosamine or a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis remains controversial. So far, there is not enough evidence to support their efficacy in the management of canine arthritis.

The efficacy of UC-II has been demonstrated in both animal and human studies without significant adverse effects. Oral administration of small doses of UC-II suppresses the autoimmune response responsible for arthritis and interferes with the inflammatory process. This prevents or slows the development and progression of arthritis, thus, effectively reduces joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

1.Pain reduction measured by ground force plate in arthritic dogs treated with type-II collagen. Presented at: Society of Toxicology 48th Annual Meeting; March 2009.
2. Therapeutic Efficacy and Safety of Undenatured Type II Collagen Singly or in Combination with Glucosamine and Chondroitin in Arthritic Dogs.
3. Comparative therapeutic efficacy and safety of type-II collagen (UC-II), glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic dogs: pain evaluation by ground force plate.
4. Therapeutic efficacy of undenatured type-II collagen (UC-II) in comparison to glucosamine and chondroitin in arthritic horses.

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