Glucosamine and Your Dog
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
“Dog’s lives are too short… Their only fault, really,” said well-known author Agnes Sligh Turnbull. She, like anyone else who has owned a dog until the end of his lifetime, understands that one of the very few downsides of owning a dog is that you will, with any luck, eventually have to watch him grow old. Fortunately, there are many measures one can take to keep the spring in Fido’s step into his golden years, one of which is supplementing his diet with Glucosamine.
One of the first ways your dog will show his advancing age is through symptoms of joint pain. If he is no longer excited about going for a walk and lags behind when you do walk; if he resists climbing stairs, and jumping into the car or up on the couch; if he’s a normally outgoing dog who begins to shy away from being touched; if he growls or whimpers when even gently petted; if he has trouble getting up, especially when he’s been laying down for a while; or if he has developed a limp, he may be displaying symptoms of osteoarthritis. If these symptoms begin to show in your dog, you should first take him to the vet. You never know if these seemingly benign symptoms are the result of something more serious, so better safe than sorry.
Osteoarthritis is essentially the breaking down of the protective cartilage in the joints. This lack of cushioning and lubrication causes the joints to grind together, leading to discomfort. Once you have ascertained that this is the problem, it is time to discuss management of the condition with your vet. Many vets immediately prescribe some sort of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like aspirin. The problem with this kind of drug is that it does nothing to treat the condition itself, so it continues to get worse. Long term use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach upset, stomach ulcers, and liver damage. A safer and more beneficial way to ease your dog’s pain is the addition of Glucosamine to his diet.
Glucosamine already exists in the joint cartilage and synovial fluid (lubricating fluid within the joints). It has been found that supplementing your dog’s diet with Glucosamine, which has anti inflammatory properties, can drastically reduce pain, help rebuild cartilage, and slow the progress of osteoarthritis. In most dogs, pain relief is experienced within 10 to 15 days of the start of Glucosamine supplementation, but it can take up to 30 days. This may seem like a long time to wait, but one must remember that though it may take a little time to see results, the results are long lasting treatment, not just symptom relief.
It is important to note that all Glucosamine supplements are not created equal. Many supplements are choc-full of fillers and do not contain enough of the active ingredient to bring about the desired result. Vets recommend that to be effective, 750 mg of Glucosamine HCI and Glucosamine Sulfate be administered per 50 lbs of weight daily. Many vets also suggest that liquid Glucosamine is more effective than capsules. Liquid supplements can be added directly to your dog’s food, ensuring that he receives the entire dose. Tablets that are to be chewed can often get stuck in your dog’s teeth, and capsules that are to be swallowed can be spit out by uncooperative dogs.
All changes and supplements to your dog’s diet should first be discussed with your vet.