Glucosamine products have been studied and used for the healing of skin wounds, stomach ailments, and joint problems. Their use in the relief and healing of the symptoms of joint disease is currently their biggest use. Glucosamine and chondroitin have been successfully used in humans, horses, dogs, and cats. This post is one in a series that deals only with glucosamine and chondroitin and their therapeutic use for osteoarthritis in the dog and cat.
There are many different joints that can be affected by osteoarthritis in the dog, but by far, the most common is the hip joints. Hip Dysplasia is very common in many of the larger breeds of dogs. This condition greatly exacerbates the normal wear on the smooth cartilage protecting the bony surface of the joint. When this cartilage wears away there is a bone to bone contact, which creates the pain seen with arthritis. Even dogs that do not have hip dysplasia may have a decrease in this cartilage as they age, and will show signs of arthritis. In addition, aging dogs may also have arthritis in their knees, elbows, and shoulders and cartilage loss or damage that respond to glucosamine and chondroitin.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are also often used as an aid in the treatment of spinal disc injuries or post operatively in dogs that have undergone joint surgery.
The typical patient that is placed on and responds to glucosamine and chondroitin therapy is a middle aged to older medium to large breed dog. Dogs may show symptoms of limping or stiffness especially in the morning and during cold weather. They usually loosen up as they move around and exercise. Some dogs have difficulty climbing stairs or getting into or out of a vehicle. Many dogs respond to treatment with buffered aspirin (Do NOT give your cat aspirin unless prescribed by your veterinarian) or carprofen (Rimadyl), but when the product is discontinued the pain and symptoms return. Osteoarthritis also affects small dogs and cats and glucosamine and chondroitin have been used very effectively in relieving their symptoms.
In my experience I would say that most older dogs suffer from some level of osteoarthritis. Many owners attribute the loss of activity to old age and may not even identify it as a problem. And they never appreciate how much their dog’s activity level was being reduced by the arthritis until they place their dog on glucosamine and chondroitin therapy and see the return of normal function.