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Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

Posted November 10, 2010 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Many humans develop arthritis as they age. About 27 million Americans feel stiffness in the morning or might experience some form of joint pain that comes from osteoarthritis. Like humans, animals also suffer from arthritis and related degenerative disc disease. This includes a species you might not consider when thinking of arthritis – the moose.

Population Study

About 100 years ago, the first moose swam out to the 45-mile long, unpopulated Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Michigan University scientists have been studying this moose population and the island's resident wolves since 1958. As the scientists collected moose bones, they discovered that many of the 1,200 they analyzed had been affected by arthritis – and the form looked similar to human arthritis.

The arthritis was mostly found in the hip joints of the moose (see photo). Weakening of such a key joint left the moose vulnerable to the wolves' attacks. In addition to suffering from arthritis, these moose were also small, indicating that they may have also suffered from malnutrition.

Links & Arthritic Causes

The cause of osteoarthritis is not pinpointed to a single reason for arthritis. It may stem from wear and tear on the joints, and obesity could be a factor. In the moose, it seemed that nutrition during the early development stages played a role. If food supplies were scarce, a mother moose would not have been able to provide a healthy environment for her developing offspring. The baby, in turn, may not have turned out structurally correct or strong.

The Michigan University scientists determined that the moose did not experience food scarcity as adults – causing them wear and tear by walking farther to find food. This leaves the earlier life stages, from the womb and beyond, when the bones, joints, and cartilage were developing.

More studies are required to determine whether poor nutrition is a definitive cause of osteoarthritis in humans.

Resources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/health/research/17moose.html?_r=3

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/health-well-being/stories/moose-arthritis-leads-to-new-medical-insights

http://www.thedoctorweighsin.com/moose-arthritis-how-not-to-publish/

http://www.nps.gov/isro/naturescience/

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/science/11/chap3.htm (image)

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#1

Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/10/2010 10:59 AM

Reading the title, I came prepared to offer consolation to CR4 member Moose.

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#2
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/10/2010 11:56 AM

Thanks, Doorman! Yep, this Moose isn't immune either. Fortunately, naproxen helps. Still, I don't recommend leaving feeders with the stuff out in the wild.

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#3
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/10/2010 1:28 PM

Moose - I hope your bones look a little better than that picture!

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#4

Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/10/2010 5:19 PM

SavvyExacta, please forgive me if the answer to this lies within your reference links.

If I read your text correctly, the moose involved were those limited to the island. Is there information regarding the available foodstuffs on the island that would be the diet of a moose? You mention food available to them in sufficient quantity, but also mention malnutrition. This seems an indication of insufficient nutritional value in their diet.

As far as Moose's diet, if he is like me, pizza, fried chicken and beer make up pretty much the entire food pyramid. I assume you guys are feeding him sufficient quantities of these nutritional cornerstones.

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#5
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/11/2010 6:57 AM

Hi Doorman,

The various references explain the malutrition in terms of feast/famine. I'm trying to recall from memory so I could be incorrect in my explanation here: there were times of ample food supply and times of scarcity. It was thought that the times of scarcity didn't necessarily cause arthritis in the adult moose that were living at that time, but in the babies they were carrying and perhaps the very young moose.

I read in one article (I may not have cited it) that the moose were eating a lot of branches and needles from trees.

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#6
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/11/2010 9:04 AM

As I recall, moose are fond of forbs and tree shoots. These provide little sodium, and moose get a lot of their necessary sodium intake from aquatic plants. If the island provided a limited supply of pond feeding, that would be a significant shortcoming in their nutrition. I am not sure if sodium deficiency contributes to arthritis, but... it certainly cannot be helping.

I put lots of salt on my pizza and chicken and I still have 'Rice Krispie' bones.

I would offer an observation from experience: I have seen many large wild animals that suffered from bad teeth... if your teeth hurt, you do not eat, and malnutrition sets in, and the inevitable end arrives.

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#7
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/11/2010 9:32 AM

I vaguely remember one of the articles mentioning something about moose teeth but don't remember the details. Most of them were trying to draw conclusions between young moose malnutrition leading to arthritis as adults equating to the same thing in humans.

Malnutrition doesn't necessarily mean a shortage of food for humans - as you say, it could be from eating too much salty pizza. (For me, the cheese is salty enough - and I do love pizza!) I'll be finding out the state of my own bones soon - I'm getting a bone density scan next month.

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#8
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/11/2010 6:27 PM

I confess I have not read all the links provided, but are there still wolves in the study zone?

If not then I'd suggest lack of predation forces and limited gene pool are the things to look at before diet.

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#9
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Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

11/13/2010 6:51 AM

Yes, wolves are still part of the study. It indicated that moose were often preyed on because of arthritic hips. This left them unable to run away from the wolves very well.

I thought about the gene pool issue myself. It is a small island. The articles I read didn't mention whether or not new animals were introduced to the population.

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#10

Re: Moose Suffer from Arthritis, Too

07/28/2011 1:04 AM

Moose get Lyme, too...read about Borrelia burgdorferi and how it mimics many other 'diseases' and how it's three morphed 'cyst' forms are most likely the cause of MS, Alzheimer's, osteoarthritis, heart arythemia, Parkinson's, and a host of other symptoms that are 'diseases' without a cause.

A lot of research has been done in Europe over the last few years that isn't really accepted in the US because it wasn't done by major drug companies.

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