A surprising number of dogs are affected by arthritis, and pet owners are always on the lookout for the best medications, supplements and treatments to help soothe their pooch’s pain.
Not to spoil the rest of the article, but yes, both glucosamine and chondroitin can be used in addition to your pet’s existing arthritis medications. Vets tend to agree that arthritis management is best done through combination therapy, meaning a mix of pain medications, supplements (like glucosamine), physical therapy, or even acupuncture.
Virtually any joint could be affected by arthritis, but your dog’s knees and hips are usually the biggest culprits.
Arthritis accelerates the normal wear and tear of affected joints, and occurs when the protective cartilage of the joint wears away, causing bone-against-bone friction (and pain).
Glucosamine and chondroitin are found naturally in animals, particularly within cartilage.
The tricky thing is that most glucosamine and chondroitin consumed by your dog is broken down through digestion, and thus unavailable for use by your dog’s body. That means that animals must create their own glucosamine through internal processes.
In healthy animals, the body is able to keep up with its glucosamine needs—but in older animals or dogs with extensive joint wear and tear, supplementation may be needed.
These substances work through a variety of pretty complex biochemical pathways, so we’ll spare you the details.
Basically, your pooch’s cartilage is made up of several different types of cells. One group is called chondrocytes, which are responsible for creating new cartilage to replace what’s lost during normal joint usage.
As your dog ages, these chondrocytes simply don’t have enough raw materials to keep pace with the damage being done to your dog’s cartilage. Imagine a worker who must constantly replace planks on a bridge that keeps getting washed away, but eventually the trucks delivering supplies come less and less frequently.
Well, glucosamine is exactly what those chondrocytes need to keep your pup’s joints healthy. Chondroitin is slightly different—although it too is a building block of cartilage, chondroitin actually helps neutralize the compounds that eat away at your dog’s cartilage, too.
Rarely, your dog may develop diarrhea or vomit after consuming these supplements. Most of the time, you can prevent these symptoms simply by decreasing your dog’s dose or by giving these supplements with food.
Usually it takes between 4 and 6 weeks to start seeing a clinical reduction of joint degradation. If you see success with glucosamine, your vet will typically recommend that you continue supplementation for the life of your pet.
After the initial 4-6 weeks of taking glucosamine, most owners reduce the dosage to maintenance levels.
Although chondroitin and glucosamine are very safe options for managing dog arthritis, owners should ALWAYS seek the advice of their vet before beginning any new supplement or medication.
For glucosamine and chondroitin, the most expensive (or cheapest) options aren’t always best. Supplements are NOT regulated by the FDA, and some brands may have far more (or far less) of the active ingredient than your dog actually needs.
Dog formulations are available in flavored chews, capsules and chewable tablets, making it easy to give to even the pickiest pooch. Of course, if you’re looking for a well-behaved pup, you can’t go wrong with our puppy finder.
Another excellent arthritis supplement for dogs is CBD oil, which numerous pet owners use to manage joint pain (among many other conditions) in their dogs.
For more info on CBD oil and how it might help ease your dog’s joint pain, check out our recent article on the subject right here.