In this post we are going to be looking at the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs.
Many pet parents assume that the slowing down they’ve been witnessing in their dogs – the stiffness, difficulty in getting up out of bed, and inability and/or unwillingness to take long walks, is a natural part of the aging process. In fact it could be the result of joint pain, something your dog may have been experiencing for some time, and kept hidden as long as he could.
If this is sounding familiar, I urge you to book a vet appointment as soon as you can in order to get a proper diagnosis.
What is glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a natural substance in the body, with the highest concentration found in cartilage. The body synthesizes most of its own glucosamine in order to form, repair and keep existing cartilage healthy. As dogs age production slows, affecting the body’s natural repair process.
Ongoing wear and tear on the joints + slower repair time of the cartilage = development of arthritis. This is where supplemental glucosamine can help.
It is found in shells of crustaceans.
What is chondroitin?
Chondroitin is also naturally found in your dog’s cartilage, and when combined with glucosamine is even more beneficial than taking glucosamine on its’ own.
Supplemental chondroitin is from the cartilage tracheal rings of cattle, and cartilage of whales and sharks. If for ethical reasons you are not happy with these sources, you can find “friendlier” options.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are “nutraceuticals” – supplements made from naturally occurring substances found in many foods, and are in the same category as vitamins.
How will glucosamine/chondroitin help?
- Protects cartilage from further deterioration
- Improves mobility
- Improves the body’s ability to repair and strengthen tissues
- Anti-inflammatory helps reduce pain
- Improves lubrication in the joints
- May reduce or eliminate the need for NSAIDS (non steroidal anti inflammatories). They have side effects and only work on pain, not joint repair
Be realistic in your expectations
Many dogs have shown significant improvement, others less so. The one thing supplements cannot do is reverse structural changes such as torn cartilage, scar tissue… It also cannot prevent hip dysplasia which is a genetic condition, but it may help with the arthritis your dog will inevitably get.
Can it be taken with other medications?
Yes it can, but I recommend you consult with your vet before giving your dog anything new. Not only is it important to confirm a product is safe, you want veterinary records to be up to date, and that includes informing them of supplements not prescribed by the practice.
Many dogs are already on pain medication by the time glucosamine is mentioned. Whether or not your dog can rely strictly on glucosamine will depend on the severity of his condition.
Long term use of painkillers can be harmful to his health, and they only treat symptoms not the cause. If glucosamine/chondroitin can replace, or at least reduce the amount of pain medication your dog is taking, that’s a good thing!
How long? Side effects?
Supplements, and alternative therapies in general, tend to take longer to show results than medication, so expect it to take several weeks.
You will need to keep your dog on this supplement for the rest of his life, because joint pain and degeneration of joint cartilage will resume if discontinued.
The only side effects are typically things like nausea, vomiting or diarhea. Usually just reducing the dose and giving the supplement with food will resolve those issues.
If this does happen please call your vet right away. Any of those issues in a senior dog could quickly lead to dehydration, which is life threatening.
Human supplement or pet specific?
Opinion is divided on whether to use a human formulation, or one of the many supplements made specifically for dogs. Generally speaking, human grade is more likely to be better quality, and less expensive than products made specifically for pets.
If you can get the dosage right using the human supplement is fine.
It’s important to note (and this applies to supplements in general)… not all supplements are created equal, and never assume the most expensive guarantees the best quality. Quality can differ drastically as can the actual amount of active ingredients.
Read labels and reviews to find out exactly how much of the active ingredient is present. It won’t work if your dog isn’t getting the recommended amount. You may be surprised to learn how many products contain lower amounts then stated, and some don’t contain any!
When it comes to determining how much to give your dog, following your vet’s advice is best.
Glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs – conclusion
If you share your life with a senior dog, you’ve probably witnessed his difficulty getting up out of bed, inability to jump onto the couch, climb stairs and take long walks. I find it so encouraging to learn how many products are out there that may help.
I hope after reading about the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs, you will speak to your vet about the possibility of using this supplement for your dog.