Introduction: Sub-optimal joint function is extremely prevalent in dogs. Therefore, a 6-week, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at eight different veterinary clinics to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of NEM® brand eggshell membrane (EM), a novel dietary supplement shown in other species to help maintain healthy joints and connective tissues.
Subjects and methods: Fifty-one dogs received oral EM ~13.5 mg/kg (6 mg/lb) or placebo (excipients) once daily for 6 weeks. The primary outcome measure of this study was to evaluate the change in mean joint function following 1 week and 6 weeks of supplementation as determined via the Canine Brief Pain Inventory (CBPI) questionnaire (Q#5-10) in the treatment group versus the placebo group. Secondary outcome measures were for changes in mean CBPI pain and CBPI quality of life, and mean joint pain, mobility and lameness via Veterinary Canine Scoring Assessments (VCSA). A final secondary outcome measure was for a change in serum levels of the cartilage degradation biomarker, c-terminal cross-linked telopeptide of type-II collagen (CTX-II).
Results: Supplementation with EM produced a significant treatment response versus placebo at 1 week (20.5% improvement, P=0.028), but fell shy of significance at 6 weeks post-treatment (22.5% improvement) for the primary outcome measure (CBPI Function), despite a sizeable treatment effect. Similarly, there was also a significant treatment response versus placebo at 1 week for CBPI Pain (19.4% improvement, P=0.010), but fell just shy of significance at 6 weeks (22.5% improvement), again despite a sizeable treatment effect. Results were not significant versus placebo at 1 week for CBPI quality of life (14.0% improvement), but produced a significant treatment response by the end of the 6-week study (26.8% improvement, P=0.033). Additionally, EM produced a significant treatment response versus placebo at 6 weeks for VCSA pain (23.6% improvement, P=0.012), but fell shy of significance for VCSA mobility and VCSA lameness (walking & trotting). Serum CTX-II levels in EM-supplemented dogs was significantly improved versus placebo at 6 weeks (47.9% improvement, P=0.018). There were no serious adverse events reported during the study and subject dog owners reported that EM was well tolerated by their pets.
Conclusion: Supplementation with EM, ~13.5 mg/kg (6 mg/lb) taken once daily, significantly reduced joint pain and improved joint function rapidly (CBPI 1 week) and demonstrated a lasting improvement in joint pain (VCSA 6 weeks) leading to an improved quality of life (CBPI 6 weeks). Moreover, a profound chondroprotective effect was demonstrated following 6 weeks of supplementation with EM (CTX-II).
Keywords: CTX-II; EM; canine; lameness; pain; stiffness.