Glucosamine For Pets: Improving Joint Health
July 15, 2014
For cats and dogs suffering from arthritis or other painful joint issues, glucosamine for pets provides relief from pain and helps increase the range of motion in stiff leg and hip joints. An essential component of connective tissue and bone health, glucosamine is internally manufactured by humans and animals and enhances joint fluids responsible for cushioning and ease of movement purposes. However, the majority of supplements given to pets for joint debility contains glucosamine sulfate, a substance harvested from shellfish shells.
Comprised of the amino acid glutamine and the sugar glucose, glucosamine levels start decreasing in pets that are older than five years old due to a natural reduction in the creation of the chemical. Because glucosamine also assists in building ligaments, tendons and cartilage, pets may also suffer other medical conditions associated with impairment of these particular elements. For example, when cartilage thickness diminishes and fails to prevent joint erosion, osteoarthritis may affect dogs and cats. In general, veterinarians will prescribe glucosamine for pets for the same reasons it is prescribed to adults experiencing joint diseases.
As a supplement for pets suffering from arthritis or pets who may be prone to suffering joint-related disorders, glucosamine is given in tablets, capsules or liquid form (for older pets) marketed as glucosamine sulfate or chitosamine. Chitosamine is simply glucosamine that has been extracted from chitin and hydrolyzed. Chitin is the hard polysaccharides found in the bony coverings of arachnids, insects and shellfish.
Pet Arthritis & Joint Pain Symptoms
Symptoms that a pet may be experiencing joint problems and need their diet supplemented with glucosamine for pets include:
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Slow to rise from a sitting or sleeping position
- Disinterest in taking a walk or playing
- May be snappish when petted or approached
It may be harder to notice symptoms of joint disease in cats because of their agility. For example, felines will try to compensate for joint stiffening and pain by taking smaller jumps instead of one, big leap. They also tend to hide any health problems due to their solitary nature and more ingrained survival instinct. Cat owners should be aware that most cats over the age of 12 have some form of joint disease and could benefit from supplements of glucosamine for pets.
Some pets may experience initial side effects when taking glucosamine such as lethargy, vomiting and sleeping more than usual. Any moderate to severe side effects need to be reported to the attending veterinarian as soon as possible, as too much glucosamine may produce a potentially toxic condition requiring emergency attention.
Diagnosis of joint disease in pets consist of veterinarians obtaining the medical history of your pet along with blood tests and X-rays to determine if any physical damage exists in the joints and surrounding areas. Sometimes your pet's joint fluid may be tested as well because of bacterial infections that are often seen in conjunction with arthritis. Additionally, glucosamine for pets should not be given to animals that are diabetic or suffer from kidney and/or liver problems.