The use of natural supplements is common in humans for a variety of ailments and medical conditions, from concerns about aging skin to organ health. In a similar way, natural supplements can be used to improve our pets’ health. One issue aging dogs may develop is pain in the joints and bones from hip dysplasia or arthritis, especially in the knees and hips.
Large breeds of dog are particularly susceptible to severe joint pain because of their size. Use of natural dietary supplements in addition to or as a replacement for pharmacological pain relievers can reduce the dosages needed and therefore reduce the side effects your dog may experience. Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that can both slow down degenerative joint disorders and lessen the pain associated with such disorders.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar compound that is found naturally in healthy cartilage. Cartilage is a flexible type of tissue that cushions joints and prevents the ends of the bones that form the joint from rubbing together.
When cartilage and synovial fluid, the fluid that keeps cartilage and bone lubricated, begin to break down, the ends of the bones rub together, causing the bones to become inflamed or even to erode, leaving fragments of bone or cartilage in the space between the bones and causing even more swelling.
This process is very painful and often debilitating. Glucosamine is a necessary compound for producing and maintaining cartilage: it is a compound that is used in building new cartilage. When glucosamine is present in healthy levels, cartilage can be repaired as needed by the body. The amount of glucosamine in a dog’s body naturally begins to decline as the dog ages, just as it does in humans.
There are no food sources of glucosamine. Glucosamine for dogs supplements are manufactured from the shells of shellfish such as shrimp. Since there is no naturally-occurring source of glucosamine, dogs cannot replace it on their own; this is what causes the drop in glucosamine levels that happens with aging. Increasing the amount of glucosamine in the body with glucosamine supplements can slow or stop the normal effects of aging associated with declining glucosamine levels.
When glucosamine is replaced in the body, it resumes its function in promoting the repair of damaged or degrading cartilage. Depending on how advanced your dog’s condition is, glucosamine may be able to repair the joint damage caused by arthritis and other degenerative conditions.
Scientific studies suggest that giving glucosamine to your dog can inhibit eroding of cartilage by enzymes while also stimulating the cells that produce joint cartilage. Cartilage regrowth can be invaluable to your dog’s quality of life, since it may negate the need for a conventional pain reliever, which the most common method of treating arthritis in dogs.
While pain relievers help to lessen the pain your dog may experience, pain relievers only treat the symptom of the disorder: the pain. Since glucosamine supplements work to replace the necessary compound to rebuild the cartilage in the bones, they actually treat the cause of arthritis pain in some dogs. In addition, the side effects of such pain relievers may include liver damage and problems with the digestive system.
Even if your dog’s condition is too far advanced for the glucosamine supplements to work to rebuild joint cartilage fully, glucosamine can be used in tandem with pain relievers to slow down cartilage breakdown. If cartilage breakdown is inhibited enough, it can stop pain from escalating.
Since the pain may be kept to manageable levels, this can prevent the need to increase the dosage of your dog’s pain medication, which will reduce the severity or occurrence of side effects your dog may experience from the pain relievers.
The results from studies of the effects of glucosamine in dogs are promising. The quality of life of many dogs can be improved or maintained with the use of glucosamine as a supplement in treating arthritis. When a pet’s quality of life is improved, so is the quality of life of its owner. By using glucosamine to repair cartilage and manage pain levels, you may be able to prevent the further degeneration of healthy tissues and the occurrence of damaging side effects from pain medication in your dog.
Although a well-informed dog owner can do much more for their pet than an owner who is not well-read in alternative therapies for arthritis in dogs, only a veterinarian can give you the most accurate information about your dog’s health. The symptoms of arthritis or hip dysplasia look similar to other painful conditions in dogs, and a veterinarian is qualified to diagnose and treat such conditions. Before beginning any new treatment methods it is always best to consult your dog’s veterinarian to ensure you are giving your dog proper and effective care.