The Dynamic Duo of Dog Joint Health: Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been used to treat osteoarthritis and other joint health issues in Europe for over twenty years. Over the last decade physicians and veterinarians in the United States have increasingly recommended them for their patients. The results have been consistently positive. These products have become one of the safest and best treatments for the crippling effects of joint pain. They also help manage osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia affecting millions of dogs throughout the United States.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are considered nutraceuticals and are not strictly controlled by the FDA. They are naturally occurring substances in many food products and are classified along with vitamins. Many U.S. companies are now producing dog joint pain supplements with these two ingredients. This is due to the increasing number of dogs suffering from joint issues and the growing success in the treatment of these ailments. 

Uses of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Dogs

Glucosamine has been studied and used for the healing of skin wounds, stomach ailments and joint problems. Its highest use is in the relief and healing of the symptoms of joint disease. Glucosamine and chondroitin have been successfully used in humans, horses, dogs, and cats.

A variety of joints can be affected by joint issues and osteoarthritis in a dog, but the most common is the hip joints. You’ll find hip dysplasia in many of the larger breeds of dogs. This condition increases the normal wear on the smooth cartilage protecting the bony surface of the joint. 

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There is bone to bone contact when this cartilage wears away, which creates the pain seen with arthritis. In addition, dogs respond well to glucosamine and chondroitin when dealing with cartilage loss and arthritic joint pain in their knees, elbows, and shoulders.

Glucosamine and chondroitin therapy is generally recommended for larger middle age and older dogs. These supplements are also used for all sizes of dogs. Other factors such as overweight dogs and genetic makeup factor in their use and timing as well.

Many dogs hide their pain in the early stages. So their humans should look for symptoms of limping or stiffness, especially in the morning and during cold weather. You may also see previously active dogs have difficulty climbing stairs or getting into your vehicle.

Veterinarians will tell you most older dogs suffer from some level of osteoarthritis and joint pain. It’s not unusual for many owners to assume their dog’s reduced mobility is simply due to old age. They may not understand how their dog's activity has been reduced by joint pain until they can witness progress from supplements.

Where are glucosamine and chondroitin found?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are normal substances found in the body of all animals. They are found in greater amounts in cartilage protecting your dog’s joints. Unfortunately, any glucosamine found in your pet’s food has reduced effectiveness due to manufacturing and digestion processes.

In normal healthy dogs, the body is able to synthesize enough glucosamine to keep the existing cartilage healthy. The problem comes as your dog ages or has damage to joint cartilage. In this situation, it cannot produce enough to keep up with what his or her body needs. This is where a supplemental form of glucosamine and chondroitin can help.

 The building blocks for new cartilage.

The way glucosamine works is actually a complex process. In essence, cartilage is made of several different cells. One of them is chondrocytes, which are responsible for producing new cartilage. In a younger and healthier dog, cartilage is constantly being broken down and replaced. When a dog has hip dysplasia, joint pain or ages, the elements needed to build enough new cartilage are reduced.

A glucosamine supplement provides the elements needed to produce new cartilage. Glucosamine is necessary for the production of the substances called glycosaminoglycans which, along with collagen, are the main structures of cartilage.Chondroitin blocks harmful enzymes that break down cartilage in your dog’s joint. There is always a low level of damaging enzymes in your dog’s joint. When injury or abnormal wear occurs, these enzymes and agents can speed up cartilage destruction.

What are the side effects of using glucosamine and chondroitin? 

There are very few side effects with using glucosamine and chondroitin. A dog may vomit or get diarrhea in very rare cases. The symptoms usually go away once the dose is reduced or given with food, Once a dog begins using the product, they must stay on it or the erosion of joint cartilage will return.

The dose is often reduced once a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement has assisted with your dog’s joint healing for 6-8 weeks. The safety of this product is well suited for long term use. It can also be used with most other drugs and vitamins without any complication. The owner of any dog taking a medication should always seek veterinary advice before adding any new product or drug.

Where can I get glucosamine and chondroitin?

Glucosamine and chondroitin can be found in many different supplement products. Glucosamine, either alone or combined with chondroitin, can be purchased online, in veterinary clinics and pet supply stores. Not all glucosamine and chondroitin products are created equal. You’ll find differences in dose levels, vitamins, minerals, and purity of the ingredients. In addition, the concentration of actual glucosamine and chondroitin vary from product to product.

Products designed for dogs often have ascorbic acid or manganese to aid with glucosamine intake. Other additives like MSM and Turmeric may be added to help with reducing inflammation. Dog joint care supplements may be flavored or fortified with other minerals helpful to your dog’s health.

It always helps to compare ingredients and read testimonials to ensure you are getting the best product for your dog. Some popular products with glucosamine and chondroitin include Cosequin and Dasuquin by Nutramax, Doggie Dailies and Glycoflex. You can find these and select others on our Best Dog Joint Supplements List here.

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