If you have ever owned an aging pet, the following scenario may sound very familiar to you: One day, you wake up to find that your beloved pup, who was once incredibly active and full of life, is having trouble standing, walking, or balancing. You rush your furry best friend to the closest veterinarian in a panicked state. A million thoughts run through your mind - is my dog paralyzed? Did something terrible happen while I was sleeping? What does this all mean?
Your vet finishes their exam, sets their stethoscope down on the table, and looks directly at you. You’re sure they can feel your nerves from across the room as you worry that, whatever the diagnosis may be, it certainly can’t be positive if your poor pup can’t even stand on his own. Your vet speaks in a calm and gentle tone, hoping to put your raging anxiety to rest, and explains that your beloved canine companion is suffering from a prevalent condition known as osteoarthritis.
According to a recent article released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an estimated one in five dogs will experience joint issues in their lifetime, often resulting in changes to mobility and significant pain or discomfort. The medical term for this condition is osteoarthritis. While it can be terrifying when symptoms occur suddenly, statistics prove that this condition is very common and (thankfully) not life-threatening.
While joint problems are known to plague geriatric patients, it is a mistake to believe that only “old” dogs can suffer from joint pain. Joint pain can stem from various causes (age, genetics, activity level, etc.) and can affect even young, otherwise healthy dogs. According to Dr. Jerry Klein of the American Kennel Club, “... there is no cure for canine arthritis, (though) some treatments can lessen pain and improve mobility”. One such treatment is the addition of a supplement known as glucosamine.
Any pet parent looking to improve their dogs’ quality of life should strongly consider glucosamine. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring supplement designed to improve joint health and mobility. Glucosamine is primarily made up of two main ingredients: glucose (a sugar) and glutamine (an amino acid). While glucosamine can be made in a laboratory setting, it can also be sourced from the shells of a shellfish. In humans, glucosamine is used to relieve pain or discomfort from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been proven to have a very similar effect in dogs.
Glucosamine reduces inflammation and joint pain by increasing the production of synovial fluid in the joints, causing a lubricating effect. This lubrication allows the joints to move around more freely and with less resistance, significantly reducing pain and discomfort. The routine addition of glucosamine to a dog’s diet also improves mobility. In fact, many owners have reported that the use of glucosamine has allowed their pets to return to practically normal activity levels once they are no longer experiencing constant joint pain.
Glucosamine supplements are often recommended for seniors who tend to have more joint stiffness and discomfort issues. However, it is not uncommon for some pet parents to add glucosamine to the dietary regimen of younger dogs as well. This is often done as a preventative measure, assisting the joints to continue functioning correctly for much longer than they might otherwise. Larger breeds, such as those in the Shepherd, Retriever, and Spaniel families, are prone to osteoarthritis, so it may be a good idea for these pets to start receiving glucosamine earlier in life.
The known side effects of glucosamine are few and far between. Those reported include lethargy, increased thirst, increased urination, or allergy-type reactions (facial swelling, hives on the body, etc.). If your pet experiences any adverse reaction to glucosamine, contact your local veterinarian for advice on comparable supplements that your pet may better tolerate.
Signs that your pet may be suffering from joint pain include stiffness of the limbs or limping, especially in cold weather or first thing in the morning. Additional signs include reluctance to perform everyday activities, such as a game of fetch or a long walk. Your pet may also have difficulty climbing the stairs, getting into the car, or jumping on or off the furniture. While these signs are most likely to appear slowly over time, arthritis can also be triggered by a traumatic event. If your pet experiences sudden lameness, especially if they are a young, otherwise healthy pet, consult your veterinarian immediately.
In its natural form, glucosamine is found in many dog-friendly foods, such as green-lipped mussels, shellfish shells, ox or pigtails, chicken feet, and beef, goat, or lamb trachea. If the idea of feeding these food items to your pet doesn’t quite suit your lifestyle (or your budget), consider using a glucosamine supplement, such as our Glucosamine For Dogs. In a chewable tablet form, our supplements can be a safe, cost-effective way to add glucosamine to your pets’ daily routine. As a bonus, dogs love the delicious bacon flavor accompanying our supplement.
To summarize, pet parents hoping for a safe and natural way to improve their dog’s quality of life should strongly consider glucosamine. By reducing chronic pain and joint inflammation, you can enjoy many more happy moments with your beloved pup. After all, wouldn’t we all give (or buy) anything for our pets to remain comfortable and pain-free, especially as they transition into their golden years?