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Is Glucosamine Chondroitin Safe for Dogs?

Arthritis is a painful and crippling condition, and in dogs, who have to rely on all four limbs to get around, it can make daily life excruciating. Pet owners who have a pet suffering from arthritis often find themselves wishing for a true cure. While no cure for arthritis exists, some medications and supplements can help stop its progression and reduce its symptoms. For pet owners who are looking for a natural solution for arthritis relief, glucosamine chondroitin shows great promise.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between the bones in a dog’s body becomes thin. This allows the bones to rub against one another, creating pain and discomfort. It’s a common problem with dogs as they age, particularly in large and medium-sized breeds, and can make the dog seem stiff and uncomfortable. Dogs with arthritis won’t be as energetic as they once were and may develop a limp.

What is Glucosamine Chondroitin?

Glucosamine chondroitin is a natural supplement often used in humans to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. It can also help dogs live with the condition more comfortably.

Glucosamine is often used in dogs to alleviate the pain and joint wear common with arthritis and other degenerative conditions like hip dysplasia. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound, also known as a nutraceutical, that contains chondroprotective agents. These agents encourage the dog’s body to repair damaged cartilage, increasing the cushioning between the joints. This helps stop the cycle of damage that occurs once arthritis sets in. Repairing the cartilage and stopping the progression of damage provides excellent relief for arthritis. Glucosamine is found naturally in the shell of crustaceans.

Glucosamine is typically paired with chondroitin sulfate, a substance that helps cartilage retain water. Moist cartilage provides better cushioning and reduces the discomfort from arthritis. Chondroitin is derived from bovine or shark cartilage.

How Does Glucosamine Chondroitin Work?
Researchers are still unsure about how glucosamine chondroitin works, specifically. The supplement appears to improve the body’s synthesis of new cartilage tissue. This happens in the chondrocytes, a set of cells in the body. As the dog ages, the chondrocytes aren’t able to make the cartilage tissue because they lack the building blocks to do so. The rate of old cartilage breakdown is far faster than the rate of new cartilage they can create, leading to arthritis.

Glucosamine provides the chondrocytes with the building blocks they need to make new cartilage. Specifically, glucosamine provides the chondrocytes with the tool to produce glycosaminoglycans, which combine with other substances in the body to create cartilage tissue.

Chondroitin also helps with the creation of glycosaminoglycans, but its primary benefit is the fact that it neutralizes the destructive joint enzymes that are causing the cartilage breakdown in the first place. This combination of stopping joint destruction and adding the right building blocks to synthesize new cartilage has a healing effect on joints plagued by arthritis.

Interestingly, in humans glucosamine has been studied extensively, and many preparations of the supplement were found to have pain-relieving properties on par with prescription drugs. Because of the risk of side effects from prescription drugs, many patients opt to use the glucosamine instead, provided they get relief.

A study specific to dogs at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, took place in 2007. The study looked at 16 different clinical trials for arthritis treatments, and the researchers found that glucosamine supplements had excellent pain relieving properties similar to prescription anti-inflammatory or pain medications.

Many promising studies in Europe have also shown the helpfulness of these supplements in assisting dogs with arthritis. Unfortunately, few completed studies on these products exist in the United States. Still, many vets continue to recommend them because of their natural nature and low risk of side effects as compared to pain relieving medications.

Does Glucosamine Chondroitin Carry Any Risks?

All medications and supplements carry some risk, but according to the AKC glucosamine chondroitin has few reported side effects, especially among dogs. Because the ingredients are derived from shellfish, any known allergies to shellfish can be a problem. Fatigue and insomnia may occur, and high doses may create excessive thirst and urination. Dogs with diabetes shouldn’t start glucosamine supplements until advised by a vet, because the supplement is sugar-based.

This lack of side effects stands in stark contrast to the potential side effects of prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Ongoing use of NSAIDs can cause digestive upset, ulcers, liver failure, kidney failure, and, in high enough doses, death. With this scary list of potential side effects, it’s no wonder most pet owners would prefer a natural solution to their pet’s arthritis problems.

Cab Glucosamine Chondroitin Cure Arthritis?

Glucosamine chondroitin is not a cure for arthritis. The degeneration that contributes to arthritis will continue, and if the pet stops taking the supplement, the arthritis symptoms will return. For this reason, pets who find relief with glucosamine chondroitin supplementation should remain on the supplement for the rest of their lives.

What Type of Glucosamine Chondroitin Should I Buy?

Because glucosamine chondroitin is a supplement, not a medication, it is not controlled by the FDA. Because supplements aren’t regulated as tightly as medications, the products contained within the supplement, like the carrier, are not always created equal. Pet owners who wish to try supplementation with glucosamine chondroitin should look for canine supplements made with human-grade ingredients, which tend to have a higher level of purity than those created for pets. Also, look for a product that contains ascorbic acid or manganese along with the glucosamine, as this helps the dog absorb the supplement more effectively. Products labeled specifically for canines will have clear dosage labeling, which will help ensure you pet gets the right amount.

That said, the glucosamine chondroitin supplements used by humans are typically safe for dogs as well. They just won’t have the additional ingredients that help with the ingestion, and therefore may not be absorbed as readily. Before giving your pet glucosamine supplements intended for humans, talk to your vet about proper dosing.

For pets suffering from arthritis, glucosamine chondroitin provides a natural and safe solution that may provide excellent relief. For pet owners who wish to protect their pets from the pain and discomfort of this crippling condition, but are leery of the dangers of pain medication, this supplement is a great solution.

 

 

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