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At 5 years old, you'd think that Benson, my lovable rogue of a hound, is still quite young, considering it's not at all uncommon for dogs to live well into their teens nowadays.
However, poor ol' Benson, as you are probably aware of, is a Bernese Mountain Dog (and a very handsome one at that!) - and whilst these are an amazing breed they have one very major drawback, and that is unfortunately their heartbreakingly short lifespan. The Bernese is perhaps the breed with the shortest life expectancy of all canines, with a cruelly young 7 years being the breed average - a lucky one might reach 8 or even 9, but any older is virtually unheard of. This is due to a number of factors - namely their large frame putting a lot of strain on their hearts, but also because the dreaded ''c'' word is very rife in breed, taking the lives of the vast majority of Bernese.
So whilst 5 years old would still be considered to be very young for a Collie or Labrador for example, a 5 year old Bernese is actually getting on quite a bit!
On the whole, Benson is fortunately still a very active and healthy dog - he does have cataracts which are causing him to slowly loose his sight but apart from that, he's generally as fit as a fiddle - he'll walk miles with me everyday, go for a jog with my husband of an evening, he competes in agility, he'd play fetch until he drops and would swim to France and back if given half a chance. Nothing stops that dog and he certainly doesn't act his age!
There is one part of ''old'' age that even Benson hasn't managed to escape though, and that's the inevitable changes in his joints. It was about a year ago that I really began to notice Benson slowing down in that respect - he's a large, heavy dog so even as a youngster, he could never quickly and effortlessly get up from resting, but it was getting to a stage that, after waking from a long sleep or getting particularly damp and cold, that Benson would really struggle in getting to his feet.
From a very young age I've given Benson fish oil and a low dose of basic joint support for his bones, which have most definitely helped to keep him as active and healthy as he is now, but I was eager to nip this new, slightly concerning joint stiffness in the bud, so I set about finding him a more specialised joint care supplement, to help keep his joints supple, bones strong and help eradicate any discomfort Benson may have been in.
My husband is a vet and had heard lots of good feedback about a supplement called Pooch & Mutt Mobile Bones both from his colleagues in the industry and the owners of his patients, so he was keen to try it with Benson, so this was the brand we decided to trial first with our boy.
I purchased our 200g packet from Pets At Home for £10.29. It is available cheaper online but I wanted to try it as soon as possible, so we paid for convenience!
The rather catchy named Mobile Bones is an entirely natural dietary supplement that is designed to be added to your dogs regular food everyday and contains 14 active ingredients including glucosamine, omega 3 & 6, B vitamins, yucca extract and calcium to help support the daily wear and tear on your dogs joints and promote healthy, supple and pain free movement.
All the ingredients in Mobiles Bones are ethically sourced and organic where possible - and the product does not contain chondroitin, as although this is a useful ingredient in joint care supplements, it is often derived from battery hens or sharks, thus does not fit in with the companies ethical, animal cruelty free beliefs.
The day after purchasing our packet I began giving it to Benson and our trial began - discontinuing the use of his current low dose joint support, to ensure a fair test.
The product comes in a slightly grainy powdered format, with a slight green tinge to it, but no obvious offensive smell. Administration was simple - Benson is about 47kg, so falls into the 25-50kg weight bracket for which Pooch & Mutt recommend 3 teaspoons of the powder daily, so I simply sprinkled this over Bensons dry food and it was wolfed down without any fuss. Benson is by no means fussy, he'll eat absolutely anything, so certainly wasn't bothered about the supplement being in his food!
Pooch & Mutt suggest the product is trialed for at least 3 weeks and after this amount of time, you should be able to see if the product has made any difference. I regliously stuck to his recommended serving of 3 teaspoons a day, and in all honestly, it was by the middle of the second week that we began to notice a difference.
Benson was only slowly signs of joint stiffness and discomfort at certain times - namely after waking up in the mornings, or if he had gotten particularly damp and cold on a walk, and went to sleep like this but a marked improvement at these times was quickly shown.
Of a morning Benson was able to stand up quicker and wasn't as stiff when getting out of his bed and this wasn't followed by his usual few seconds pottering about to ''get going''! Also occasionally you could hear his front legs clicking when he jumped on the sofa or stretched out but this was also reduced soon after starting the supplement.
It's now been about 11 months since we started using Mobile Bones and we're still exceptionally happy with it - it has certainly improved Bensons mobility and I'm confident it has banished any slight joint pain Benson may have been in prior to using it. With Bensons dosage, a 200g packet lasts us around 3 weeks, give or take a day or two, so cost wise, it's not too bad - especially since it does seem to be doing its job so well.
How it would work for a dog with more severe joint complaints as arthritis or hip dysplasia, I don't know, but for easing the symptoms of natural joint decline that come with senior dogs, then I can't fault it. It works quickly and effectively and has helped Benson to continue with all the things he loves doing such as long walks and agility, so it gets a huge thumbs up from us.
I can't say we shall be using this supplement indefinitely - there are still a couple more similar supplements out there that I would like to try him on which may work out slightly cheaper, but I certainly have no qualms about recommending Mobile Bones to anybody with an older dog, or one who needs a bit of extra help where their joints are concerned (for working dogs, or for those recovering from injury for example), and we shall certainly be using it for the foreseable future or be returning to it if the other supplements on my 'list to try' don't suit Benson.