One of the hardest things to do as a dog owner is to watch your dog age. Inevitably we start to see our pups walk a little slower, jump a little lower, and begin to sport that distinguished, classy gray muzzle. Many dogs, especially those from larger or giant breeds, need dog joint care as they age. The deteriorating health of their joints can lead to arthritis, causing pain and trouble getting around for your beloved canine.

Regular exercise is essential for a healthy dog of any age; pain in locomotion can make exercise difficult for an older dog. The lack of movement can lead to even more stiffness and joint pain. Dog joint care should be one of your top priorities for your older dog. Joint supplements are one major way to stave off the effects of aging joints. The main ingredients in most joint supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin.

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What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are both natural cartilage building blocks necessary for healthy joint function. These ingredients can lessen the pain associated with arthritis in dogs by promoting the formation of healthy cartilage.

Dog Joint Care: What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring substance found in your pet’s healthy cartilage. Glucosamine produces glycosaminoglycan, which forms and repairs body tissues, cartilage included. As your dog ages, their production of glucosamine slows. This process slows your dog’s body’s ability to repair their cartilage. As your dog creates normal wear on their joints, their body cannot keep up with repairs. Falling behind on repairs leads to deterioration of the joints and cartilage, causing painful arthritis. 

Some research shows that supplementing your pooch with the glucosamine they cannot make themselves can help rebuild cartilage. Rebuilding cartilage restores joint function and your dog’s activity levels. 

Not only does glucosamine help rebuild cartilage, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties, improves lubrication in the joints, and may reduce or eliminate your dog’s need for NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), which can have negative side effects. 

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Dog Joint Care: What is Chondroitin?

Chondroitin is another substance that occurs naturally in your dog’s cartilage. When paired with glucosamine, the two have a beneficial effect on your dog’s joint health. The fact that these substances naturally occur in your dog means that instances of overdose or side effects are rare.

Arthritis and Dog Joint Care Supplements

Canine joints function much the same way as ours do. A joint is a place where two bones come together, and a thin layer of cartilage covers each bone-end. This spongy layer acts to absorb shock as your dog moves and protects the bones from rubbing one another. A liquid called synovial fluid encases the bone and cartilage to act as a lubricant, enabling the joint to move easily and without pain.

Arthritis is a progressive disease characterized by joint inflammation, stiffness, lameness, and loss of mobility. Injury, infection, or obesity can cause arthritis at any age, but many dogs begin to show symptoms as they grow older.

In the case of arthritis, cartilage and synovial fluid break down either from age or overuse. This makes movements stiff and uncomfortable. Over time, this lack of cushion from the spongy cartilage and synovial fluid allows the bones to rub together painfully, and eventually, bone spurs may form from the contact.

Treating arthritis with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements allows the body to begin to repair the cartilage, making movement easier and more comfortable for your dog.

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How do I know if it’s working?

Though it may take a few weeks to see signs of improvement, slowly, you will start to see an increased activity level in your dog. Typically you will start on a higher dose, and as you start to see improvement, your dosage will be lowered to a preventative “maintenance dose.” Always follow all instructions on dosage and weight requirements when giving your dog a supplement. 

Your dog will become more active and playful over time, exhibiting fewer signs of stiffness and pain. Dogs will be more willing to go up and down the stairs, go on walks, and initiate more play sessions with family members.

Although there is no way to return your dog to the youthful body of years past, a joint supplement may enable your beloved pet to regain some of the activity and mobility they enjoyed in younger years. You may be surprised at the improvements you witness just by adding a joint supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin into your dog’s diet.

Benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements

Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin are beneficial treatments for healthy joints for several reasons.

  1. Because your dog produces these substances naturally, glucosamine and chondroitin are considered “nutraceuticals” as opposed to “pharmaceuticals.”
  2. These supplements can consequently be purchased over-the-counter and do not require a prescription from your veterinarian. 
  3. Due to their natural occurrence, glucosamine and chondroitin are not very likely to produce allergic reactions.

Now that you know the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, should you start supplementing your dog’s diet? The best way to determine whether your dog could benefit from a joint supplement, or any other supplement for that matter, is to talk to your veterinarian. Always consult your vet before changing your dog’s diet or adding supplements to their diet.

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