Many dogs – perhaps yours – take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. But what are they, and how do they contribute to your dog’s health?
What is glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a type of amino sugar produced in the body that plays an important role in forming and repairing joint cartilage. Cartilage is the main tissue that cushions and protects joints during movement. Glucosamine provides the raw materials needed to strengthen cartilage, while also inhibiting enzymes that break down cartilage.
What is chondroitin?
Chondroitin is an element of cartilage, which functions in a way similar to glucosamine. It is part of a large protein molecule that gives cartilage elasticity.Does my dog need a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement?
As your dog gets older, the amount of glucosamine and chondroitin his body produces decreases, leading to stiff joints, lessened mobility and joint pain. Decreases in glucosamine also contribute to conditions such as arthritis. Joint injuries or surgery can also affect the amount of cartilage protecting your dog’s joints.
Supplementing your dog with glucosamine and chondroitin can help replace lost glucosamine and restore the proper glucosamine balance.
Benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements
Your dog can benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin supplements if:
He is very active and exercises regularly
He participates in agility events and other high impact activities
He has previous joint injuries
He has had joint surgery
He has signs of pain and stiffness of joints
He is a senior dog (7 years or older)
He is limping or lame
Because glucosamine and chondroitin are a naturally occurring substances in the body, there are very few side effects. There have been no reported drug interactions with glucosamine.
However, take the following precautions before giving your dog glucosamine and chondroitin supplements:
Consult with your veterinarian if your dog is diabetic — glucosamine may increase insulin resistance
Discontinue use one week prior to surgery, as it may have a mild blood-thinning effect
Do not use if your dog is on medications that thin blood
May cause mild digestive upset such as nausea and diarrhea
If lameness worsens or persists, consult your veterinarian
Safe use for pregnant animals or animals intended for breeding has not been proven