What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements?

Glucosamine is a substance that is synthesized by the body. After eating, it is formed via a synthesis of glucose and the phosphates found in fructose (a type of plant-based sugar). The derivative products of glucosamine perform a variety of functions in the body, including regulating aspects of the immune system and central nervous system. However, the main job of glucosamine is to maintain the integrity of the joints. 

Chondroitin is formed from complex sugars that are produced as a byproduct of digestion. Their main purpose is also to maintain the integrity of the dog's joints. In situations where the joints are starting to incur, or be placed at risk of incurring, damage, a vet may advise a dog owner to give their pet glucosamine and chondroitin supplements as a means of preventing a serious problem from developing.

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Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements Procedure in Dogs

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements both come in the form of a pill that has to be taken orally. In order to administer such medication, it is not uncommon for some owners to simply 'force-feed' it to dog, placing the pill in their mouth and ordering them to swallow. However, a more practical way to handle the supplements is to disguise them in the dog's food, which is far less stressful for the dog. However, this raises the possibility that the dog may simply miss the pill when eating from its bowl, or it may fall out of its mouth. Thus, many vets will advise owners to simply hide the pill inside a small snack item that the dog will be enthusiastic about eating. This will allow the owner to ensure that they eat the pills.

Efficacy of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements in Dogs

Whilst the supplements are quite effective at rejuvenating cartilage, it may take some time before any noticeable results appear. That said, the cartilage all around the dog's body will also be receiving a boost, lessening the chances of damage occurring elsewhere. Despite this, some owners may feel that a more decisive option is needed to treat the underlying condition. Hip dysplasia, for instance, can arguably be tackled better with the use of surgical methods such as a 'femoral head excision'. This would seat the bone far deeper in the joint and thereby prevent further dislocations whilst restoring the dog's range of movement.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements Recovery in Dogs

After the treatment has commenced, the dog will need to undergo a rest period of several weeks to prevent further damage to the joint. During this time, physical activity should be kept to a minimum. The vet may wish to book regular appointments to check on the dog's progress and make sure that it is responding properly to the treatment. Physiotherapy may also be needed in order to strengthen the supporting muscles and correct any imbalances in the dog's posture or gait that could wear down the cartilage. Without surgery, the dog may only need a month or so until it starts to see a significant benefit from the supplements and physiotherapy, allowing it to return to a normal exercise routine.

Cost of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements in Dogs

Fortunately, the price of glucosamine and chondroitin products is quite low, as there are no patents controlling the manufacture or distribution of the substances currently in place. A regular bottle of thirty pills can be expected to cost roughly $10. Surgery, meanwhile, is not so affordable, with a femoral head and neck excision procedure costing in excess of $1,000, depending on the age of the dog and the availability of surgeons. Physiotherapy can be relatively expensive, with sessions running between fifty and two hundred dollars each, but it is worth it in the long run, as the dog stands to regain a significant amount of mobility if given the proper training.

Dog Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements Considerations

Whilst chondroitin and glucosamine have been proven to play an essential role in the regeneration of damaged cartilage, some owners are more in favor of a surgical solution to joint problems. This is mainly due to the amount of time that the supplements require in order to have an effect, whereas surgical correction of the problem offers an immediate fix. That said, for elderly dogs (who are the primary sufferers of conditions like osteoarthritis) surgery may be too great of a risk due to the strain that general anesthesia can place on their respiratory system. Instead, a less invasive option may be more appropriate.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements Prevention in Dogs

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that some breeds are especially predisposed to, meaning that there is no way to avoid the problem. Some vets might advise owners of dogs with dysplasia to have the animal sterilized, so as to prevent them from passing it on to future generations. Regular joint degeneration, meanwhile, is far easier to avoid as it is mostly due to environmental factors. These typically include overuse of the specified joint and bad nutrition. By addressing these two problems, owners can eliminate much of the risk of severe arthritis occurring. Injuries can also play a part, as they may cause a dog to unnaturally alter its gait, putting unwarranted stress on the joint. By making sure that the dog sees a vet after any serious injury to the leg becomes apparent, such a problem can be stopped before debilitating cartilage damage takes place.