The Surprising Connection Between Protozoa and Your Pet's Joint Pain

The Surprising Connection Between Protozoa and Your Pet's Joint Pain - Saponin Bites™ by Valley Farmstead

Protozoa are microscopic single-celled parasites, or eukaryotes, that feed on debris and organic tissue. There are more than 50,000 species of protozoa. Protozoa are unique in that, although single-celled, they can live, operate, and replicate independently. They love to find homes in nature all around us and unfortunately, in people, livestock, and our beloved pets.

screenshot from cdc website explaining what a protozoa is

Our muscles and joint tissue are primary targets for many protozoa, and as they degrade their host tissue, it promotes another source of inflammation and joint pain. Protozoa mean "first animal" and were originally referred to as "unicellular animals." Giardia, malaria, red tide, and enteritis are all caused by one or another species of protozoa.

Let's examine the main issues and sources of protozoa that affect our dogs and how to address them.

Dogs and Protozoa

Does your dog run in the grass, jump in the sea, or dig in the dirt? Well, if your dog acts like a dog, they are exposed to dangerous protozoa on a daily basis. Protozoa live in nearly every form of nature, and we can't shield our dogs from them. Here are the two most common symptoms of protozoa found in dogs.

Hepatic or Enteric protozoa?

The most common hepatic protozoa are Giardia, Lamblia, and Coccidia. These cause the problems we know as Giardia and Coccidiosis, living in the gut and intestinal tract and wreaking havoc. A dog's most likely sources for hepatic protozoa will be infected water that is tainted with urine or feces from farm or wild animals. Feces is one of the primary points of infection for protozoa that cause hepatic infections. Dogs are also known to eat the feces of other animals, such as chickens, horses, and cats.

screenshot from cdc website of giardia protozoa

Prevention and regular maintenance are always the best and easiest approach, as well as the most cost-effective. Maintaining high-quality ingredients is healthier and more cost-effective than incurring costly vet bills for unnecessary emergencies. Stopping it before it starts is always the best option.

Once dogs get infected and show signs, it's essential to act quickly. Loss of appetite for food and water can set in quickly. Eyes become droopy and sad, and dehydration follows as the protozoa replicate and extract moisture and muscle tone. This is the worst possible scenario as the enteric or digestive system loses moisture due to dehydration.

With progressive dehydration, the mucous lining of the dog's intestinal system becomes almost gel-like, usually leading to enteritis and/or scours. If not dealt with quickly or prevented in the first place, the plasma in the dog's body becomes viscous. If you pull at their skin, you may hear a crackling sound because the subcutaneous mucous layer between their fur and muscle is drying up.

YIKES! At the same time, any food in their digestive tract is stripped of moisture by the protozoa and turned into a rock-hard lump. This "blockage" will usually lead to death or the need for emergency surgery to remove the blockage.

Joint and Hip Pain Protozoa

There are many species on the list of protozoa that cause hip and joint pain. As mentioned earlier, over 50,000 species of protozoa exist or have been discovered. These microscopic parasites live off organic tissue and cause oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress, also known as inflammation, removes electrons from our cells. When all electrons are gone from a cell, it dies. This process of free radicals removing electrons is what causes inflammation. Therefore, it's essential to replenish electrons from a high-quality form of antioxidants when dealing with free radicals causing protozoa.

Antioxidants play a major role in your dog's joint pain recovery. We know that oxidation or cell breakdown is the cause of inflammation and joint pain. Antioxidants are the "anti" or opposite of oxidation. They return electrons that free radical oxidation removes from our cells. When treating joint pain, our dogs need the nutrients required to add electrons.

The bottom line when dealing with protozoa is that you need to:

  1. Eliminate the protozoa parasite.
  2. Repair and replenish electrons with powerful antioxidants.

Let's look at how we can approach both of these steps. Here's what you need to know.

Saponins, Polyphenols, Antioxidants and Their Antiprotozoal Activity 


When looking to eliminate protozoa, saponins are a natural solution. Saponins, which means "soap," is a class of natural surfactants that act as a foaming agent similar to soap.

The foaming aspect of saponins can kill intestinal protozoa through lysis, which is the breakdown of cells by disintegrating the cell membrane. This is thought to be the mechanism by which yucca saponins exert their anti-inflammatory effects.

This is where Yucca Schidigera comes in. Yucca Schidigera, also known as Mojave yucca, is a plant native to Mexico that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Steroidal saponins are the most prevalent type of saponin, and yucca schidigera plants are the number one commercial plant for steroidal compounds.

The plant contains several physiologically active phytochemicals. The anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory properties of yucca have been attributed to the presence of saponins. Saponins are thought to work by inhibiting the activity of certain enzymes, including cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). These enzymes are involved in producing inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

Using saponins ensures that the protozoa are eliminated, and any inflammation they cause is soothed. This makes saponins a great option to get rid of protozoa and relieve any inflammation they may have caused.

screenshot of journal of medicine article discussing yuccas effect on inflammation


Yucca also contains several other biologically active compounds, including polyphenolics and resveratrol. Polyphenolics are a class of plant compounds that have been shown to have many health benefits. They are known to inhibit the activity of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that plays a role in inflammation.

Resveratrol is another polyphenolic compound that is found in yucca. It is known to be a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. These properties may help suppress the production of reactive oxygen species, molecules that can stimulate inflammation.

In a nutshell, the anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of yucca are due to the presence of saponins, polyphenolics, and resveratrol. These compounds work together to inhibit the activity of inflammatory agents, scavenge free radicals, and protect cells from damage.

screenshot from journal of animal nutrition on needing antioxidants after treating protozoa

Antioxidant Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is one of the best mineral therapies and antioxidants available. Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of vitamin C, called it "the most efficient water-soluble antioxidant."

Vitamin C is known to scavenge harmful toxins and byproducts that can damage cellular health, including free radicals, peroxides, and heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Moreover, vitamin C is vital for producing collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep the skin firm and elastic.

Scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, is characterized by bleeding gums, joint pain, and fatigue. In the past, scurvy was common among sailors who spent long periods at sea without access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That is why British sailors carried vitamin C to avoid scurvy, and they got the nickname "limeys" because of the limes they ate to prevent scurvy.

When using antiprotozoal drugs to treat protozoan infections, it's important to carry out an intensive routine of nutritional vitamin and mineral therapy. This will help the body restore the damaged joints, muscles, and connective tissues.

Preventing Hepatic Emergencies 

Preventing hepatic emergencies is the most ideal scenario in cases of hepatic protozoa. Do your best to keep your dog away from situations where contamination is most likely. For instance, avoid beach areas with lots of geese droppings, contaminated water sources like puddles on a dairy, stagnant water where deer can urinate, and eating other animals' feces.

However, it's not always possible to prevent exposure to protozoa in dogs. In such cases, maintenance dosing with steroidal saponins and antioxidants is recommended, especially if the potential for exposure is high. Saponin Bites™ offers great support to minimize protozoa before complications arise.

Preventing Hip and Joint Pain

While genetics can cause some hip and joint pain in dogs, there are ways to help alleviate your dog's discomfort. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is one way to reduce the amount of inflammation in your dog's body, which can lead to less pain. Anti-inflammatory foods for dogs include:

  • Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Nutrient-dense organ meats
  • Flavonoids
  • Green, leafy vegetables

screenshot of journal of animal science article covering link between nutrition and arthritis

Another way is to use Saponin Bites™ to kill joint pain-causing protozoa and destroy free radicals with its powerful antioxidants.

For optimum results, we use sunflower lecithin encapsulation to ensure the vitamin C reaches your pet's bloodstream, where it can directly target the protozoa. Lecithin also aids in cellular hydration and nervous system support.

This supplement is ideal for pets suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, or any other joint pain. It's also great for preventing these conditions in healthy pets, strengthening and supporting joints and connective tissue. Saponin Bites™ is safe for long-term use and can be given alongside other medications.

Wrapping up

The link between protozoa and inflammation is well-established, and the ability of saponins to kill these organisms makes it a great treatment for conditions such as joint pain. While dogs are at high risk for protozoa infections, Saponin Bites™, specifically formulated to address joint pain, can help reduce the risk of such infections.


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