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By Steve Marsden, DVM ND MSOM LAc DiplCH AHG, Shawn Messonnier, DVM and Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH

Alternative Therapies

What is perna? perna-1

Perna (Perna canaliculus), the green-lipped mussel, is a shellfish that is a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) including chondroitin. It also contains a number of other nutrients, including essential fatty acids, carotenoids, and other compounds that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory effects of the extract (marketed as Lyprinol®), are significant and are achieved at doses far below those typically used for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and routine omega-3 fatty acid supplements. As with NSAIDs, enzymes that break down cell walls to generate inflammatory compounds are inhibited by Lyprinol, including cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase.


Why recommend administration of perna to my pet?

Perna is an effective supplement for pets with arthritis that has been used by veterinarians interested in alternative medicine for several years. The product is safe for use in both dogs and cats.

"Most clinical experience has been obtained in the treatment of dogs..."

Most clinical experience has been obtained in the treatment of dogs, given their pronounced predisposition to musculoskeletal disorders.

perna-2How much research has been conducted on this supplement?

Perna and its extracts are one of the few alternative treatments that have been repeatedly confirmed effective in multiple well-controlled clinical trials. Most trials used the Lyprinol extract of perna. Interest in clinical trials has been fuelled by the fact that Lyprinol has been shown to produce "very significant" improvements in asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory disorders. Dogs fed perna likewise experienced improvement in arthritic signs in a 2002 study in the Journal of Nutrition. The improvements seen are estimated to be several hundred times greater than those achieved with regular omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

How can my pet benefit from perna?

Owners should expect to see improved mobility and decreased pain in arthritic pets. Asthmatic pets may cough less and breathe easier.

How safe is perna?

"...very low incidence of side effects associated with its use."

One of the benefits of perna is the very low incidence of side effects associated with its use. This stands in contrast to the adverse effects of NSAIDs, with which its benefits are comparable. Adverse effects of NSAIDs include vomiting, gastric ulceration, hepatotoxicity, and hemorrhage. Shellfish poisoning has been raised as a possible concern associated with the use of perna. Ideally, products should be screened during manufacture for any shellfish toxins using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Where do I obtain perna and do I need a prescription?

Pet owners are cautioned against buying supplements without knowledge of the manufacturer, as supplements are not highly regulated and some supplements may not contain the labelled amount of ingredients and sources may not be properly screened. A prescription is not needed for perna. Your veterinarian may have preferred brands or sources of supplements that he or she will recommend.

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