"It has been used in people extensively, and we are on the front edge of testing it on live animal patients."
URBANA — Oh, those aching joints that make it so painful to chase squirrels around the yard, climb stairs and take a walk.
Dogs, like people, can also suffer from arthritis, and the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is looking for dozens of arthritic dogs to help test a dietary supplement to see if it helps.
UI researchers want to find out if the supplement, which is already used by human patients, can help improve dogs' comfort and quality of life, according to Kim Knap, a canine rehabilitation practitioner at the veterinary college.
The name of the supplement being tested isn't being disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement with the sponsoring company, she said.
"It has been used in people extensively, and we are on the front edge of testing it on live animal patients," Knap said.
The UI is looking to try out the supplement on 60 dogs that are 25-110 pounds — of any age and any breed — with lameness or arthritis of the hip, knee or elbow, but are otherwise in good health.
Dogs that have had orthopedic surgery within the past six months or with certain neurological conditions can't be enrolled.
The owners need to administer the supplement twice a day for four weeks, and take their dogs off certain medications for two weeks beforehand and during the trial. They'll also be asked to bring their dogs in for weekly appointments during the study.
Knap said owners must also put up a $300 deposit for costs related to the study, but the money will be refunded in full at day 28 for those fulfilling the commitment.
Arthritis is a common ailment in more than half the dogs Knap's department at the UI's teaching hospital, she said.
"They're uncomfortable. Their activity level decreases. It may affect their eating and quality of life. Things they used to enjoy they may not, any more," she said.
Some of the therapies used to help arthritis in dogs at the UI are workouts on a water treadmill and other exercise, laser treatment, weight management and pain medications.
To ask about enrolling a dog in the supplement study, email Knap at firstname.lastname@example.org .