Glucosamine for Dogs
As your dog ages, you may notice that he is developing a limp. Some dogs even experience so much joint pain that convincing them to go outside is difficult or even impossible. Getting exercise is often out of the question.
When your dog develops arthritis or another degenerative joint condition, your vet will prescribe him pain medications. These medications can be harmful when taken for long periods of time, forcing you to choose between your dog’s mobility and his liver health. It is crucial in these cases that you find an alternative to treat your dog’s joint pain and his other symptoms.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a chemical compound that is found naturally in your dog’s body. It is found in cartilage, where it encourages the growth and repair of new connective tissue.
The normal wear and tear on your dog’s joints causes small tears and injuries. These small injuries are not a problem when your dog is young and healthy, but as your dog ages, the amount of glucosamine in his cartilage decreases. As glucosamine levels decrease in the cartilage, the joints lose their ability to heal themselves. The small injuries and tears accumulate over time until they begin to erode the cartilage.
Cartilage forms a cushion in between the bones that form the joint. When this cushion is worn away, your dog begins to feel pain, often developing a limp that gets worse as your dog gets older. Some dogs develop arthritis, a condition where the ends of the bones in the joints rub together. This is very painful and can be debilitating for your dog.
What Are the Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs?
Dogs who have arthritis, hip dysplasia and other degenerative joint diseases often cannot take prescription pain medications for long. Since these conditions are chronic, they are lifelong problems that must be managed, but pain medications can cause liver and kidney problems when they are used regularly over time.
Replacing your dog’s glucosamine through the use of supplements is a viable alternative to using pain medications. Glucosamine treats your dog’s disorder directly as opposed to treating only the pain symptoms.
Supplemental glucosamine acts exactly the same as the glucosamine found naturally in your dog’s body. It causes the production of synovial fluid, a gel-like fluid that lubricates the joint and nourishes the cartilage. Synovial fluid absorbs shock in the joint, keeping the cartilage from eroding through friction against itself.
Glucosamine also acts as an anti-inflammatory, preventing swelling and inflammation in the joint. Dogs with arthritis experience a lot of inflammation in their joints. Much of the pain your arthritic dog experiences occurs because of inflammation. Reducing your dog’s inflammation is important in managing his pain.
When your dog’s pain is under control, he is more likely to remain active. This is important in maintaining flexibility and muscle tone. A dog who loses flexibility and muscle tone is likely to experience more pain. Reduced and controlled inflammation helps you prevent inflexibility and muscle weakness from inactivity.
Should I Give My Dog Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is useful for dogs with a variety of joint problems. Since it restores your dog’s ability to heal damaged cartilage and to grow new cartilage, it helps to relieve your dog’s pain in the long term.
Dogs who start taking glucosamine as a method of treating arthritis and relieving its symptoms usually show some signs of pain relief after about one month. Since its effects are long term, it is important to use other medications to manage your dog’s pain until the glucosamine starts taking effect.
Although glucosamine is often effective in treating the symptoms of arthritis and repairing damaged tissues, treating symptoms is not as effective as preventing them. Glucosamine can be used as a preventative joint tissue damage before arthritis sets in.
It is important to be proactive in maintaining your dog’s joint health. Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop arthritis and other degenerative joint conditions than other breeds are.
- Large breeds have the most problems with arthritis because of the strain on their joint tissues.
- Hip dysplasia is also common in German shepherds and other large breeds. This is a condition where the hip socket is not properly formed. The cartilage in the hip is eroded over time.
- Small dogs often develop neck and back problems, since they are likely to jump on and off furniture and from other elevated areas.
- Many dogs also develop patellar subluxation, a condition where the kneecap slips in and out of place, damaging the cartilage each time this occurs.
Almost all dogs are susceptible to developing some type of joint condition. Supplementing glucosamine from an early age can ensure that your dog’s joints remain healthy and the cartilage remains strong and flexible. Maintaining joint health throughout your dog’s life is the best way to prevent debilitating joint pain as your dog gets older.
Talk to your vet before giving your dog any supplements, especially if you want to replace prescription pain medications. Your vet can give you advice about phasing out these medicines while managing your dog’s pain.
Is Glucosamine Safe for Dogs?
Glucosamine is safe to give to all dogs. Side effects are rare and tend to be mild. Most side effects occur because of the way glucosamine is manufactured.
Glucosamine is derived naturally from shellfish. It is also occasionally derived from plants such as corn. Dogs with sensitivities to shellfish or corn and other grains may develop a mild allergic reaction to glucosamine.
Other side effects include digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. These usually occur when the glucosamine dosage is too high and can be alleviated by decreasing the amount of glucosamine you give to your dog.
Look for glucosamine products that are easy to give to your dog, such as treats. Some glucosamine products are made with grains, artificial flavorings and other ingredients that are unhealthy for your dog, so make sure that the supplements you give to your dog contain only natural chicken flavors and are grain-free.