The Importance of Glucosamine for Joint Health in Dogs
Glucosamine is a natural substance found in the cartilage of people and animals. Dogs naturally produce glucosamine in their bodies, but amounts decrease as they age. Eventually, the majority of dogs reach a point where they fail to produce enough to stimulate healthy levels synovial fluid, glycosaminoglycans, and chondroitin sulfate, which are essential for maintaining cartilage health.
This result is a progressive degeneration of joint health that causes canine arthritis. Because of glucosamine's availably as a supplement, treatments have developed to help replenish the supply of glucosamine and prevent the onset of arthritis.
Causes of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis is associated with aging, and most dogs develop it to some degree when they are older. It can also be caused and exasperated by trauma or injury, and certain breeds have developed a genetic tendency for developing canine arthritis.
Arthritis develops when there is a decrease of joint fluid, and can result in a degenerative joint disease called osteoarthritis. With this condition, cartilage gets stiff, loses its elasticity, and in time deteriorates completely. Unfortunately, this condition is often asymptomatic in dogs until the cartilage is gone, leaving them with arthritic related lameness, immobility, and muscular atrophy.
Glucosamine as a Preventative Arthritis Treatment for Dogs
Generally, glucosamine is viewed as a holistic, preventative treatment for canine arthritis. It has not always been readily recommended by the mainstream veterinary community because of a lack of studies verifying its effectiveness.
However, evidence is increasingly demonstrating that glucosamine supplements can counter arthritic development in dogs, and is particularly effective when used as a preventative measure.
The Mayo Clinic states that there is now solid scientific evidence that glucosamine is helpful in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis for both animals and humans.
Other studies conclude that glucosamine reduces inflammation and pain caused by arthritis in dogs, and show that glucosamine both inhibits enzymes that degrade animal cartilage and enhances the activity of important cells necessary for cartilage growth.
Prevention of Canine Arthritis
The most conclusive data on glucosamine treatments for canine arthritis indicate that it is effective as a preventative therapy.
Vets now commonly recommend that dogs start using a glucosamine supplement in the middle years of life. It may be called for even earlier if they are a breed with a predisposition for arthritis, or if they have had an injury that is contributing to stiffness and immobility.
It is worth noting that glucosamine has not proven effective as a quick cure or powerful pain killer. Most supplement manufactures call for a waiting period of at least 4 weeks before expecting any visible signs that your dog's mobility or pain levels have improved.
Glucosamine aligns with medical trends that focus on the goal of preventing disease and maintaining health. This is a holistic philosophy that naturally preserves health rather than reacts only after issues have become serious and debilitating. The regular use of a glucosamine supplement beginning in your dogs' middle years will cost less than invasive treatments for osteoarthritis, and moreover, it will improve the overall quality of your dog's life.