Chondroitin For Dogs
Senior dogs often develop joint problems in their later years. Degenerative joint conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia can pose problems even during a dog’s younger years and become more prominent as the dog ages. Prescription pain medications can be dangerous, especially when they are used to treat chronic pain conditions over a long period of time. Over-the-counter pain medications are unsafe to give to dogs.
It is critical to find a treatment alternative that can relieve your dog’s pain and treat the damage to her joint tissues that arthritis and other conditions cause. The pain from degenerative conditions significantly affects your dog’s quality of life and may become so unbearable without treatment that she cannot do engage in any of her normal activities.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin is a substance that is naturally present in your dog’s body. It is found in the cartilage of joints such as the knees, elbows and hips. It provides cartilage cells with strength and keeps them flexible.
It also nourishes cartilage by drawing moisture from synovial fluid into the cells. Drawing this fluid into the cells enhances the connective tissue’s abilities in absorbing shock from everyday movements and falls. Synovial fluid also encourages healing in damaged tissues.
What Are the Benefits of Chondroitin to Dogs?
Since chondroitin helps to strengthen cartilage and encourage joint tissue to heal after injuries and long-term damage from arthritis, it is helpful for aging dogs. Giving chondroitin supplements to an arthritic dog can prevent further damage by strengthening the cartilage that remains in the joints and helping it absorb shock from everyday movements.
Chondroitin also helps cartilage retain flexibility. Flexibility is important in your dog’s continued joint health, since it helps her remain active. Inactivity usually makes chronic pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia even worse, so remaining active and flexible is important in getting your dog back to her normal routine.
Should I Give My Dog Chondroitin?
Dogs who are living with arthritis, hip dysplasia and other chronic musculoskeletal diseases can benefit from taking chondroitin. These dogs need help in strengthening the cartilage in their joints to prevent further damage to their tissues.
Although your dog may have advanced arthritis, preventing more erosion of her joint tissues is important. Any tissue that can be retained will prevent bone from rubbing directly against bone. When bones rub directly together, they can fragment and cause bone spurs, which will aggravate your dog’s condition.
Chondroitin supplements help strengthen existing joint tissue and prevent further damage to the cartilage. When the joint tissue is constantly being damaged, your dog’s body is continually struggling to heal the erosion. If your dog is elderly, it is likely her body does not have the glucosamine and chondroitin necessary to regenerate the tissue rapidly enough to have a positive effect on the damaged joints. Supplementing chondroitin gives your dog’s body an opportunity to regrow cartilage that has been eroded away.
Although dogs who are already living with a degenerative joint disease can benefit from chondroitin supplements, it is always better to focus on prevention instead of treating symptoms and damaged tissues. Younger dogs who are not yet showing symptoms of arthritis, hip dysplasia or other painful diseases can also benefit from taking supplements.
All breeds of dog can develop degenerative joint conditions, although the conditions tend to vary by breed. Large breeds are likely to develop arthritis and hip dysplasia, while smaller breeds develop neck and back problems. Dogs of all sizes have a tendency to develop patellar subluxation, a condition where the kneecap is loose enough to move around and damage the cartilage in the knee.
Starting your dog on chondroitin supplements while she is young gives her strong, flexible, resilient cartilage throughout her lifetime. As your dog grows, she subjects her joints to stresses and small injuries and tears every day, especially if she is very active. These stresses contribute to dogs’ joint problems later in life and can even cause arthritis as she ages. Giving her chondroitin supplements before these injuries can accumulate prevents the joint tissue from weakening and eroding to the point that she develops chronic pain.
How Do I Give Chondroitin to My Dog?
It is important to give your dog chondroitin supplements that are formulated specifically for dogs. Although the chondroitin in human supplements is the same as the chondroitin found in supplements for dogs, canine supplements are easier to give to dogs and are typically made without artificial sweeteners, flavorings and other ingredients that may be harmful for dogs.
Chondroitin works best when it is taken with glucosamine, so look for combination supplements. MSM is another supplement that works well with chondroitin. Glucosamine and MSM reduce inflammation and nourish the cartilage, helping rebuild your dog’s cartilage and relieve pain.
Make sure that the supplement you give your dog contains only natural ingredients, such as natural chicken flavor and brewer’s yeast, and that they are grain-free. This ensures that the supplement is easy to give to your dog and does not contain unhealthy artificial preservatives, flavorings or other ingredients.
Is It Safe to Give My Dog Chondroitin?
Side effects from chondroitin are rare. They tend to be mild and are usually digestive side effects such as upset stomach and vomiting. No serious side effects from chondroitin have been observed in any clinical trials.
Although chondroitin is safe to give to dogs of all ages, it is best to discuss your dog’s treatment with your veterinarian. Your vet will give you information about lifestyle changes your dog needs to manage her pain, including advice about exercise and other activities that are safe for arthritic dogs.
A vet can also help you through phasing pain medication out of your dog’s routine. Chondroitin is effective in relieving pain and healing cartilage, but it takes time to take effect. Your dog will probably not feel relief until she has been taking chondroitin consistently for at least one month, so she will still need pain medication to manage her pain.