What They Are and What They Do
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements are fast becoming the most widely used supplements in dogs’ diets. The reason is this: Arthritis in dogs is one of the most common health problems seen by veterinarians. And quite unfortunately dog owners and veterinarians rarely notice the early warning signs of arthritis in dogs because these animals have the character to ignore soreness and discomfort until the arthritic changes in the joints have progressed significantly. Recent widespread availability of nutraceuticals such as GLUCOSAMINE and CHONDROITIN SULFATE Athletic dogs need super strong bones and joints. have proven to be significant contributors to easing the discomfort of arthritis in dogs. Plus these substances actually promote healing and tissue repair. (Take a look at a portion of a memo at AAFCO regarding Nutraceuticals.)
What Is Arthritis?
We do need to get something firmly fixed in our minds, though, before we get into a discussion of supplements and their effects on arthritis in dogs. If any joint in the dog’s body (and this is true in humans as well) has significant structural changes from normal, no amount of consumed nutrients in any form will correct that structural damage. If there are calcium deposits, scar tissue, cartilage tears and dissolution, contour changes to the bones at the joint surfaces from long term abnormal forces being applied… these abnormalities will remain present and will continue to affect the animal regardless of nutritional intake. Supplements to the dog’s diet such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate, Omega Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, Selenium, and MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) all assist in decreasing inflammation and improving the body’s ability to repair and strengthen tissues. Supplements will not reverse structural changes in a joint such as torn cartilage, calcium deposits and advanced scar tissue. Take a look at a normal hip joint radiograph on the left and an arthritic hip joint on the right. The best you can expect from an arthritic joint such as on the right when providing supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin is a decrease in pain sensation, an improved resistance to additional joint tissue breakdown, and rejuvenation (improved health) of some soft tissues.
Normal Hip Joint
Abnormal Hip Joint
* No supplement, Vitamin or mineral, magnetic therapy, gold salt, chiropractic manipulation, herbal remedy, heat treatment or “special diet” will make the hip on the right ever return to the condition of the hip on the left. The time to address potential abnormal joint changes is before chronic stresses impact the joint conformation and structure. Genetic and environmental factors play a major roll in the development of the joint structures and lay the foundation for joint parameters affecting eventual joint health or disease. There is no cure for arthritis. Management is the key.
(For information about Hip Dysplasia, look at this page.)
Take a look at the arthritic spine of an eleven year old dog below. It is surprising that the dog can even walk, or wag its tail in joy, with all the arthritic changes present along the spinal column. These changes take years to occur, but if optimal environmental and dietary principles were followed, beginning at a young age, these changes may have been minimized.
Causes of Arthritis
There are various causes of arthritis (inflammation of a joint). Some of the most common are: Genetic malformation of bone structure that creates a misalignment of joint structures, trauma or infection to joint surfaces, torn supporting ligaments or tendons (see Anterior Cruciate Ligament [ACL] surgery), poor nutrition, overweight puppy during the growth process, and auto-immune disturbances. The ultimate outcome of these factors is a joint that simply isn’t working properly and where the sensory nerve endings in the supporting joint structures are irritated. These irritated nerve endings in the stressed joint tissues send pain and discomfort signals to the brain. The result is a dog that limps, rests often and is reluctant to move in a normal fashion. And since there is no nerve cells in articular cartilage, when pain is present it is coming from the joint capsule, ligaments and supporting tissues.
These changes in a joint can occur rapidly, such as after a fracture and unsatisfactory healing, or progress with subtle but long term damage as with moderate forms of hip dysplasia. Gradual degeneration of the spine such as in the image above is very common and takes years to develop. Since there are no blood vessels or sensory nervesClick to browse the pet food and supply store in a new window! ENJOY! in joint cartilage, damage to cartilage can be quite advanced before the surrounding supportive tissues become inflamed and sore.
Treatment of Arthritis
Unfortunately, since we cannot remodel the joint without surgical intervention, attempts are made to reduce the inflammation at the nerve endings so that the dog is at least comfortable even if range of motion may be compromised. Very effective medication such as the steroids Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and other corticosteroids will markedly reduce swelling and inflammation to affected joints. But there is a downside to the use of steroids for long term palliation of arthritis. Intermittent use may be indicated; long term use should always be questioned. Long term corticosteroid use can actually contribute to additional joint damage and breakdown. Steroids and NSAIDs do not promote healing of joint tissues, whereas the Nutraceuticals described here can.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Rimadyl and Etogesic can have noticeable beneficial effects on the arthritis patient. These medications, too, have a down side in some patients and must be very carefully regulated to avoid bleeding disorders, gastric ulcers, and liver and kidney dysfunction. Do not use NSAIDs without consulting your veterinarian first!
By their nature, nutraceuticals are substances that are consumed orally as an addition to a normal diet. These substances are much safer than traditional “drugs” in that they can be considered a form of food or nutrient. Toxicity levels are rarely attainable if they are used in reasonable amounts. Today, the most commonly used nutraceutical in pet health care is GLUCOSAMINE and CHONDROITIN SULFATE. The reason these two substances are so widely used is that in many patients, after a few weeks to two months of administration, very noticeable improvement in comfort, mobility and attitude are noticed. Because these substances tend to be incorporated into regenerating tissues the benefits of nutraceutical use are not generally seen “right away”. With drugs, we would see apparent comfort and improvement almost immediately… but at the expense of potential undesirable side effects. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used nutraceuticals…
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound composed of a sugar and an amino acid and is involved with the body’s production of joint lubricants and shock absorption necessary to maintain healthy cartilage and joint function. It is Old dog… old joints. It’s time for some high quality food and supplements. manufactured in the body in the joint cartilage and is one of the major components involved with the formation of the critical lubricants and shock absorbers necessary to maintain and restore healthy joint performance. Any degeneration or injury to joint cartilage can result in the failure of the joint to produce sufficient cartilage repair and maintenance substances. The net result with time is a wearing down of the joint cartilage to the point where pain and swelling can substantially reduce joint function. This is what is commonly called degenerative joint disease (DJD) and Osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine Sulfate plays a role in other body structures besides joints. It is involved in the formation of nails, tendons, skin, eyes, synovial fluid, bone, ligaments, heart valves and in mucous secretions of the digestive, respiratory and urinary tracts. It is created in the production of proteins associated with cellular growth and structure. Test tube and animal studies show glucosamine supplements help increase cartilage production and reduce inflammation. Absence of Glucosamine Sulfate in the diet can result in early aging of cells, loss of cellular function, susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infection, and cell death. Glucosamine Sulfate is one of the building blocks of the basic substance of articular cartilage. Glucosamine Sulfate may also aid in the rebuilding of damaged cartilage.
Glucosamine as a nutritional supplement is extracted from crab, lobster or shrimp shells. There are three forms of Glucosamine so when purchasing it, look for the Sulfate form because it seems to be absorbed and utilized the best. Because dietary supplements are unregulated, the quality and contents may vary widely. Be sure to choose a product sold by a well established company, and read and understand the product label ingredient list.
For some excellent meat-based diets and high quality supplements such as he Missing Link, NaturVet Glucosamine Plus Tablets, Prozyme Natural Enzyme Food Supplement Powder and more… shipped to your home or office, visit…
Much of the research on Glucosamine Sulfate has taken place over the last ten years and it’s supplementation
|Inflamed joints, discs, and sciatic nerve||Breakdown and inflammation of synovial fluid||Damage to muscles and ligaments|
|Premature aging of cells||Wearing down of articular cartilage||Inelasticity of intervertebral discs|
Research on Chondroitin Sulfate suggests its use may be beneficial in preventing stress injuries to joints as well as aiding in the repair of damaged connective tissue. This substance aids in keeping cartilage tissue from dehydrating and assists in cushioning impact stress. Some studies suggest that supplementation with Chondroitin Sulfate can reduce joint pain significantly. Other studies have shown that combining Chondroitin Sulfate with Glucosamine might improve each substance’s beneficial effects, but agreement on this issue in not unanimous. Unlike pain killers which only serve to dull the pain, Chondroitin Sulfate addresses the disease process itself. Chondroitin Sulfate may actually help the body to repair damaged cartilage and help restore joint integrity. It may protect existing cartilage from premature breakdown. Because chondroitin production by the body decreases with age, supplementation with this compound may be especially helpful for older dogs with arthritis.
Other Joint Sparing Products
he green-lipped mussel called Perna canaliculus, is a source of chondroitin and other beneficial nutrients. The sea cucumber is believed to provide assist in the elimination of pain. They provide essential nutrients required by cartilage. Another arthritis fighting supplement is called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). It provides sulfur compounds that may inhibit pain.
View the radiographs below that demonstrate cases of arthritis
* Severe arthritis of the spine
* Arthritis of the hip joint
* Cartilage flap removed from a shoulder joint. See the explanation and surgery.
Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if the dog or cat is consuming an optimum diet. In some cases, adding a supplement such as DermCaps, a popular Omega Fatty Acid supplement with a number of beneficial ingredients, is the key factor in avoiding repeated episodes of Hot Spots and other skin afflictions. If your dog or cat seems to lack good coat and skin health, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula and adding a supplement such as DermCaps.
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