Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Dogs

By Ian M. Stewart
Used with permission.

It’s a fact of life. We, along with our pets, get older. Sometimes the symptoms of aging are the same in both human and canine. When they get older, dogs are susceptible to conditions like arthritis and osteoarthritis, just like we are. You can probably notice a change in your dog’s behavior after walking her a couple of miles. Instead of staying with you, your dog might begin carrying her hind leg.

You take him to the Vet to see if he is dysplastic or a has a problem with his spinal cord or elbows or even the starting of hip displacement. After an X-ray is performed your Vet confirms that your dog has arthritis and recommends some type of drug treatment, such as aspirin, phenylbutozone, and later maybe Rimadyl.

The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin as an alternative treatment is widely known and highly recommended. According to veterinarians, these supplements are widely used in veterinary medicine practices.

Dr. Mike Richards, DVM, who answers questions on the website, has this to say about glucosamine and chondroitin: “In the clinical trials for Rimadyl (Rx) the placebo group was estimated to have improved by 15% of the veterinarians and 25% of the clients. On the other hand, [glucosamine and chondroitin] appear to be safe to use, so why not try it? That is the basis we work on in our practice. To the best of my knowledge there should be no problems using [glucosamine and chondroitin] in lieu of or in conjunction with carprofen (Rimadyl Rx).”

Dr. Mike, as he is called on his website, also says that, “personal experience with glucosamine is that about half of my pet owners feel that it makes a significant difference. As always, consult with your veterinarian before beginning any drug and/or supplement therapy.”

Joint & Cartilage Management Nutrition

Healthy joints are crucial for dogs to engage in physical activity and routine movements, such as walking, climbing stairs, and rising from a seated position. Glucosamine and chondroitin work together to improve the health of joint cartilage. Since joint health depends on the continued health of this cartilage, this is a very important benefit.

Joints, responsible for movement, are made up of a joint cavity filled with synovial fluid, a synovial membrane, and cartilage. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber and a smooth gliding surface for bones to maneuver within the joint. The synovial fluid acts as both a lubricant and a source of nutrition for the cartilage. Cartilage is a matrix made up of collagen, hyaluronic acid (component of synovial fluid), and glycosaminoglycans. Because of the mechanical forces of movement and weight bearing, these matrix components are constantly being replenished in order to maintain strength and resilience. This rebuilding process creates a large demand for the building blocks utilized in this process. If these building blocks are not available in adequate levels, the process will breakdown, and eventually lead to degenerative joint disease.

Two major building blocks for cartilage synthesis are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine is responsible for the synthesis of hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans within the joint and chondroitin, while being one of the major gylcosaminoglycans, acts to inhibit degradative enzymes that promote the breakdown of cartilage.

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Be sure to visit the Glucosamine Product Guide for a review of commercially available glucosamine products.