Recent advancements in pet health and food quality have secured a longer lifespan for our beloved dogs. Not to mention, veterinary care has also been improving through the years, and having access to a good veterinarian helps our pet with any health problems. However, they are not exempt from the chronic conditions that come with aging and genetics. Joint health is a major problem among older dogs.
As such, many pet owners are concerned about how to maintain healthy joints throughout their dog's life. There are new findings of using glucosamine for dogs in the form of dietary supplements or nutritional supplements.
This might be the first time you are hearing about glucosamine for dogs - but don't worry. Here is everything you need to know about possible glucosamine treatment for aging dogs.
Why Do Dogs Experience Joint Pain?
Just like us, all dogs have a higher risk of health problems as they get older. Joint pain, arthritis, and stiffness are common among dogs reach a certain age, but this can manifest earlier for dogs of larger breeds who struggle to carry their own body weight.
Joint problems occur because as your dog ages, they lose the natural ability for cartilage repair. If there is no joint fluid, your dog will experience some arthritic pain.
Can Dogs Get Arthritis?
You might be familiar with the term arthritis for humans. But yes, dogs can get arthritis - which simply means inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Just like humans, dogs can have inflammatory or degenerative arthritis.
Most commonly, dogs experience degenerative joint disease, also known as arthritis or osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a complex and progressive disease that affects joints, thus causing pain, weakness, and stiffness. Joint health suffers as dogs get older but there are other risks and factors affecting their healthy joints..
Degenerative joint disease is caused by the enzymatic degradation of the cartilage in their joints, but pinpointing when and where this starts is unknown. However, the theories include underlying joint diseases like hip dysplasia or trauma, or even bodyweight, lack of exercise, or cartilage problems.
On the other hand, your dog can get inflammatory arthritis. This occurs from infections, crystals in the joints, or immune-mediated diseases where your dog's immune system will attack the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of immune-mediated condition which is more painful as it causes bone erosion, swelling of the joints, and even the surrounding joint membrane called the synovium.
Generally, arthritis occurs in middle-aged to older dogs of all breeds. However, there are other immune-mediated diseases that are specifically observed in certain breeds or health conditions. If you are wondering if your dog is prone to any of these, we suggest taking a quick trip to your trusted veterinarian.
There is indeed a higher risk of arthritis among older dogs. But keep in mind that genetics is also a factor, as well as injuries or other environmental factors.
Oftentimes, the breeds affected by dog arthritis are large or even giant breeds because their joints have more weight to bear. These breeds include German shepherds, golden and Labrador retrievers, Alaskan Malamute, and others. However, there are some small dogs like dachshunds who are also at risk.
Being overweight or even athletic, despite their breed, have a higher risk to develop arthritis. Usually, this is because their joints experience more physical activity - thus hastening the wear and tear of the joints. Cartilage plays an important role and it is produced naturally among young dogs. It strengthens your dog's condition and keeps them agile so they can be active without any problems or joint issues.
This simply highlights the need to keep a healthy lifestyle for your dog. It sounds like a lot of work, but it will surely go a long way. The recommended minimum exercise for dogs is at least 30 minutes every day, but if your dog is very active, why not spend more time playing? It not only stimulates their mobility but their mind and social skills are being developed as well.
But if you do find your dog exhibiting symptoms of osteoarthritis, don't worry. There are many joint supplements available, with natural ingredients to repair joints and even aid in pain relief.
This is where chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs come in.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in our bodies, and it is most popular for being an effective remedy against arthritic pain. There are other natural substances also known as chondroprotective agents which are used to treat arthritis in dogs, horses, and even humans.
Glucosamine for dogs is known to:
- Relieve joint pain
- Aid in recovery from joint surgery
- Treat spinal disc injury
- Improve overall physical health, especially for performance dogs
Veterinary practices now include glucosamine recommendations especially if the aging process is taking a toll on dogs' bodies. Joint damage can be very painful on dogs and pet parents will do everything they can to ease their pain. Glucosamine supplements can boost the repair process of damaged articular cartilage. This cartilage is very important because it is the cushion between joints. Without joint cartilage, dogs' joints are rubbing against each other and causing some pain and mobility problems. Since older dogs cannot repair joint cartilage as well as they used to, it would be best to take a supplement like glucosamine that lubricates joints.
Glucosamine is a natural amino sugar-acid produced by the body. It is often used with another natural substance called chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate is also aimed at stimulating cartilage repair among older dogs, and it's made from cow or pig cartilage but it can also come from the shells of crabs, oysters, shrimps, or created from natural plants.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has regulated these products as supplements, not drugs. This means you can purchase them over the counter and generally they are accessible and affordable. The FDA regulation also means they have been evaluated for safety so you don't have to worry if chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs are safe.
How Does It Work?
The science behind chondroitin and glucosamine is simple.
Chondroitin promotes water retention and elasticity in the cartilage cells of dogs. This helps dogs absorb shock as it lubricates joints and promotes better joint function. Other than that, chondroitin inhibits the production of destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage. It is also known to reduce clots in small blood vessels and stimulate the production of glycosaminoglycan or GAG. GAG is very important in the cartilage of animals because it is made up of glucosamine, which is a very important building block.
Glucosamine regulates collagen synthesis in joint cartilage and even has mild anti-inflammatory effects because it can scavenge free radicals in the body.
Younger dogs have no problem with joint support. But the risk factors for arthritis increase as dogs get older, so there is a need to take joint supplements to treat osteoarthritis.
Luckily, glucosamine and chondroitin are beneficial and effective. They can increase joint flexibility, mobility, and even prevent joint damage.
Are There Any Side Effects?
You might be concerned if there are any side effects or adverse reaction to expect when you give glucosamine to your dog for the first time. But there is no need to worry. Since these are natural substances, joint supplements are well-tolerated in dogs and side effects are minimal.
Here are some of the side effects that are known to occur but very unlikely:
- Excessive thirst at high doses
- Allergic reaction to shellfish
- Soft stool or gas
Regular use of glucosamine and chondroitin can help improve your dog's overall health and activity level. It can even be a preventative measure against aging, which means you can administer glucosamine for dogs even before arthritis symptoms occur.
What Are The Common Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs?
You should definitely consult a veterinarian first. Here are the general symptoms of canine arthritis you should keep an eye out for:
- Stiffness in joints
- Weakness with jumping or climbing
- Moving slowly to rise, walk, or run
If you observe one or more of these symptoms, then it is surely time for a visit to your local veterinarian. It is the perfect opportunity to ask about using a joint supplement and even rule out other physical conditions your dog might have.
How Much Glucosamine Should My Dog Take?
Once you get the go signal from your veterinarian, you can start purchasing a joint supplement and give it in the correct dosage to promote healthy cartilage in your dog's joints. It is essential to follow the recommended dosage for your dog's body weight when using joint supplements and even with general medications used in veterinary medicine. Following the correct dosage is imperative because health risks can arise if you give too much glucosamine treatment.
Check the product label for recommendations on dosage, but the anecdotal recommendations are generally 15-30 mg/kg per day based on the chondroitin amount.
Be patient as it will take a few weeks to notice any improvements in your dog's condition. We also recommend pet parents be careful to not switch supplements before they see any improvements or effects in their dog. There are different concentrations and formulas from the various companies in the market, so switching or stopping during treatment is not advisable.
At best glucosamine can become a preventive measure as it promotes health and mobility for your dog even before arthritic symptoms occur. You can also keep an eye out for your dog and if they are developing symptoms of osteoarthritis before you start giving the recommended dosage of glucosamine chondroitin.