Much like people, dogs tend to slow down a bit as they get older. Some of this may be due to not having quite as much energy as they did when they were puppies, but there are often underlying health issues that contribute to the loss of vigor.
Whether your dog suffers from arthritis, joint pain, or reduced cartilage, glucosamine may be just what your pup needs to get back to her energetic self.
What Is Glucosamine?
This substance is naturally found in your pet’s body, with healthy cartridge being the area of highest concentration. The glucosamine made by your dog’s body creates glycosaminoglycan, a substance that helps to both repair and create tissues like cartilage.
Unfortunately, as your dog gets older, the naturally occurring repair process begins to slow down and leads to stiffness and joint pain. Over time, wear and tear on the joints often leads to arthritis, as the cartilage is not being repaired as quickly as it once was.
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Although glucosamine is most commonly used to treat arthritis, there are a host of other ailments that may be improved through the use of this supplement. For example:
Dogs who have recently undergone joint surgery can experience a shorter recovery time with the use of glucosamine.
It can be used o reduce pain arising from structural problems or hip dysplasia.
Dogs with spinal disc injury may find it helpful in treating their injury.
Athletic dogs in good health can maintain their peak condition and performance levels with the use of glucosamine.
Despite being known for its pain relieving capabilities, glucosamine is not actually a painkiller. Rather, the substance has the ability to elicit anti-inflammatory effects that in turn, reduce the dog’s joint pain.
Additionally, this supplement helps your dog’s body to produce more joint lubrication naturally, which provides a better cushion and improves joint function. Some studies have also found that using glucosamine may diminish or completely eliminate the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Where Does Glucosamine Come From?
Generally, you will find glucosamine supplements in one of two formulations: glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. Sometimes it may also be combined with chondroitin sulfate, a naturally occurring substance that improves cartilage’s ability to retain water.
Most glucosamine supplements are developed from the shells of shrimp, oysters, crabs, or plant sources (these vegetarian options are created in laboratories), while the most common sources of chondroitin are cow and shark cartilage.
A word of caution: you may want to do a bit of research before you buy, if you decide to give your dog glucosamine. This addition to your dog’s diet is regulated as a dietary supplement– not a drug– and therefore is not subjected to the rigorous testing process necessary to pass the FDA’s guidelines for pharmaceuticals.
Glucosamine For Dogs: Does It Really Help With Joint Pain?
Scientists have spent the last three decades trying to determine the answer to this question, but the jury is still out in terms of a definite scientific ruling. Most major studies–in both dogs and humans– report mild to moderate levels of pain reduction and pet owners overwhelming claim it helps their dogs.
Furthermore, one study in humans performed in 2012 found that glucosamine sulfate relieved joint pain as good or better than “commonly used analgesic or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).”
It is important to note that glucosamine cannot reverse or cure arthritis or other joint and cartilage problems. However, regular use can improve and relieve symptoms to help your dog feel better and more like herself. And many people are using it for that exact reason.
In fact, glucosamine is quickly becoming one of the most commonly used dietary supplements for dogs as more than half of dogs over the age of seven will be diagnosed with some degree of arthritis.
Glucosamine for Dogs: What Are the Side Effects?
Since the side effects of using glucosamine are mild, few, and rare, many veterinarians feel comfortable recommending this supplement to the owners of their aging patients. Here are a few of the most common side effects:
Allergies (especially if your dog has a shellfish allergy)
Excessive urination or thirst
High blood sugar (this may be a concern for diabetic dogs as the substance is sugar based)
How Can I Buy Glucosamine for My Pet?
Luckily for owners of picky dogs, glucosamine comes in many forms so you can choose the right form for your pet. In addition to flavored tablets, there are also liquids, powders, and pills. You can buy the supplements at a veterinarian’s office, a pet supply store, or online. Remember never to give your pet supplements made for people. The dosage or ingredients may be harmful to your dog; never assume that the two products are the same!
Generally, it is recommended that your dog receive a dose of glucosamine once per day. However, you should speak to your veterinarian for correct dosing information and to check how frequently you should administer it to your pet. Effects are not immediate and may take several weeks before you notice a significant improvement.
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