Wet noses, sleek coats and healthy joints

A next-generation active ingredient based on a pure collagenous protein is now available to stimulate joint cartilage metabolism and improve mobility in our trusted companions

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects more than 20% of all dogs aged one year and older and is the most common osteoarticular disease in dogs. It’s a degenerative joint disease characterised by the progressive destruction of normal articular cartilage and subchondral bone, and is typically manifested by pain and lameness.

Cartilage is composed of specialised cells called chondrocytes that produce a large amount of extracellular matrix containing two major components: collagen (type II) and proteoglycan (aggrecan). The chondrocytes play a central role in the development of OA because they are responsible for the anabolic and catabolic balance of cartilage metabolism.

When this equilibrium is disturbed, degenerative joint diseases are prone to develop. Currently, treatments that directly address the cause of joint pain in dogs are scarce in the marketplace. Most treatments focus on anti-inflammatory effects.

Figure 1: Problems when sitting and laying decreased statistically significantly after 12 weeks of daily ingestion of 5 g of PETAGILE (n=22)

The consequences for the pets affected are pain and reduced joint mobility, which results in lameness or stiffness and leads to a reduced quality of life. It is, therefore, important to identify and manage the disease effectively: 31% of dog owners state that bone and joint problems are an issue for their pets, and around 10 million dogs in the United States have been diagnosed with OA.

Apart from age, the main risk factors are body size, obesity, genetic predisposition and injury trauma, which can contribute to osteoarthritic joint formation.

Perhaps less widely known is that cats also suffer from (OA). The number of arthritic cats is more difficult to assess, however, as they exhibit more subtle signs of the disease. Nevertheless, 90% of cats older than 7 years show X-ray evidence of joint degeneration. The most common symptom seen in cats with OA is a reluctance or an inability to jump. Further symptoms are reduced mobility, difficulties in sharpening their claws, grooming and increased irritability when touched, especially around the affected joints.

Likewise, there is also a high incidence of OA among horses. More than 60% of equine lameness stems from OA. It can occur early on in sports horses or later in ageing animals. Risk factors include abnormal physical stress levels, joint congruence changes, fractures and microfractures in subchondral bone.

Given that joint complaints are not a human-only issue and that many pet owners would do everything they can to help their domestic companions to stay physically mobile and healthy, GELITA has developed an innovative ingredient for the regeneration of joint cartilage of animals.

The specially optimised bioactive collagen peptides in PETAGILE promote joint cartilage growth and thereby counteract the wear on joints caused by ageing and excess load. As such, oral supplementation with PETAGILE can contribute to the maintenance of joint health and keep pets mobile for longer.

In fact, the effect of PETAGILE has been studied in several preclinical and clinical trials. Taken orally, PETAGILE is partially absorbed as intact peptides. These Bioactive Collagen Peptides stimulate the cartilage cells (chondrocytes) to increase the production of new cartilage matrix (collagen and proteoglycans), which acts as a buffer between bones.

Clinical research

Based on seminal research by Weide and Hesse and wishing to enhance the effectiveness and reduce the effective dosage, GELITA’s new product, PETAGILE, consists of specific bioactive collagen peptides that are optimised for the treatment of joint health in pets and horses.1,2

To assess the efficacy of orally administered PETAGILE in senior dogs with OA, 22 medium-sized animals without discrimination by sex, age, weight or breed were included in an observational study and treated with 5 g of PETAGILE per day (administered in regular dog food for a period of 12 weeks).

The mean age of the dogs was 9 years and the mean weight 28 kg. The degree of lameness was evaluated by a veterinarian at baseline using a 5-point visual score (0 = no symptoms, 4 = high degree of lameness) and was, on average, 1.7 ± 0.2.

Lameness, pain in motion, observation at rest, crepitus, mobility and swelling of the ankles were examined by the veterinarian at the beginning and after weeks 3, 6 and 12 of intake. Changes in vitality, climbing stairs, standing up and contact sensitivity were evaluated by the dogs’ owners on a weekly basis.

Figure 2: The degree of lameness, evaluated by a veterinarian, decreased statistically significantly after 12 weeks of daily ingestion of 5 g of PETAGILE

Based on the trial results, it was concluded that the oral administration of Bioactive Collagen Peptides (BCPs) has beneficial effects on OA in dogs and contributes generally to the maintenance of joint health in preserving mobility and the quality of life (Figures 1).

Owing to the product optimisation of BCPs, the daily dosage of 20 g (as used in the Weide study) could be reduced. The previous results were, however, confirmed for medium-sized OA dogs treated with 5 g per day, wherein the clinical situation of the dogs was statistically and significantly improved. A 5 g dose of PETAGILE for 12 weeks leads to a significant reduction in lameness and improvements in further parameters such as problems in sitting and discomfort in getting up (Figure 2).

In further research by Schunk et al., the impact of specific collagen peptides (PETAGILE) on cartilage metabolism was tested in canine chondrocytes.3 In addition to the biosynthesis of various matrix molecules (type II collagen, aggrecan and elastin), the RNA profile of inflammatory cytokines and degenerative matrix molecules was also examined.

The results clearly showed that the supplementation of specific collagen peptides reduced catabolic processes, as indicated by a statistically significant decrease in inflammatory cytokines and proteases in canine chondrocytes compared with untreated control experiments (Figure 3).

In addition, a statistically significantly enhanced biosynthesis of type II collagen, elastin, and aggrecan was observed. As such, the authors concluded that “the current data supports the suggested anti-inflammatory effect of specific collagen peptides … but also clearly demonstrates a pronounced stimulatory impact on matrix molecule synthesis.”

From the horse’s mouth

Proving its efficacy in larger animals, Dobenecker et al. set out to evaluate the clinical efficacy of specific bioactive collagen peptides (BCPs) — administered orally as PETAGILE — on horses with mild to moderate, naturally occurring osteoarthritis.4 Data from a two-centred pilot study were used for the meta-analysis.

Figure 3: Change in joint cartilage after 3 months (tissue sections)

Thirty eight privately owned horses of various breeds were available. In one centre, 18 of these patients (6 ± 3 years; 519 ± 100 kg BW) received either 25 g (n = 6) or 50 g (n = 12) of BCPs/day orally for 12 weeks. In the second centre, 20 horses (18 ± 4 years; 413 ± 94 kg BW) received either a placebo (control; n = 10) or 25 g of BCPs/day.

Attending veterinarians performed an orthopaedic examination, including flexion tests and evaluated the degree of lameness, rotation pain, step length and arc of foot flight during trot (8 parameters) at the beginning and after 6 and 12 weeks.

The horse owners answered a weekly questionnaire about their perception of lameness, mobility and the horses’ willingness to run. In the 50 g group, in six of eight parameters, a strong effect was detected with two parameters (lameness and flexion pain) significantly improving after 6 weeks.

In the 25 g group, a moderate effect was seen in six parameters (three improved after 6 weeks). The owners reported a strong effect on mobility and willingness to run and a moderate effect on the development of lameness in the 50 g and 25 g groups compared with the placebo treatment.

The study revealed promising effects of the safe oral-specific supplementation with BCPs on symptoms of osteoarthritis in horses after 3 months, with the higher dosage (50 g) having a greater impact. Further long-term investigations on the specific efficacy of BCPs in horses with osteoarthritis, preferably in blinded and placebo-controlled studies, should be performed to confirm these first positive results, note the authors.

Product definition, compliance and safety

PETAGILE’s BCPs are specific, highly purified hydrolysed collagen peptides with a neutral taste and odour. The average molecular weight is approximately 6.0 kDa. They are suitable for protein enrichment in pet food applications such as treats or complete pet foods (wet and dry).

The product complies with Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 and Regulation (EC) No. 999/2001, which lays down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including amendments regarding country classification and specified risk material.

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Various international bodies have declared collagen peptides to be safe. GELITA collagen peptides are food and non-food additives and therefore carry no E-number. The Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) has performed virus risk assessments and demonstrated that collagen peptides are safe. In the US, collagen peptides have been granted “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)” status by the FDA (Docket Number 77N-0232).

In summary

The oral administration of PETAGILE has beneficial effects on dog mobility and generally contributes to the maintenance of joint health in preserving flexibility and quality of life. In elderly animals, for example, it increases activity, promotes mobility and flexibility, and augments well-being.

In active animals, it supports mobility and flexibility, optimises joint health, function and comfort, and increases performance. Furthermore, PETAGILE exhibits excellent solubility, is easy to formulate and contains no fat, purines, cholesterol, additives, colourants or synthetic aromas. And, in a palatability test with dogs, PETAGILE showed great acceptance.


  1. N. Weide, “Der Einsatz von Gelatinehydrolysat bei Klinisch-Orthopädisch Gesunden Hunden und Hunden mit Chronischen Erkrankungen des Bewegungsapparats,” PhD thesis, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Germany (2004).
  2. K.J.F. Hesse, “Supplementation by Collagen Hydrolysate in Dogs Suffering from Osteoarthritis,” Kleintiermedizin 1, 17–22 (2006).
  3. Michael Schunck, et al., “The Effectiveness of Specific Collagen Peptides on Osteoarthritis in Dogs-Impact on Metabolic Processes in Canine Chondrocytes,” Open Journal of Animal Sciences 7, 254–266 (2017).
  4. B. Dobenecker, et al., “Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides (PETAGILE) as Supplement for Horses with Osteoarthritis: A Two-Centred Study,” J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr. 102(Suppl. 1), 16–23 (2018).