Arthritis in older dogs is fairly common, and glucosamine hydrochloride, or glucosamine HCI, is often recommended by veterinarians for the treatment of arthritis and joint pain, says Oklahoma State University's Center for Veterinary Science. Like humans, dogs produce glucosamine naturally in their bodies, but this amount may be insufficient to lubricate older or damaged joints. Glucosamine hydrochloride is typically given as an oral supplement.
Glucosamine is found naturally in many foods as well as being produced in the body, according to Drs. Foster and Smith. Glucosamine nutraceuticals or supplements are usually made from shellfish. There are two forms--glucosamine sulphite and glucosamine hydrochloride. Both are equally effective, but Drs. Foster and Smith maintain that glucosamine hydrochloride is a more pure form and is more bioavailable to the dog. Glucosamine is available alone in a supplement, but is often formulated with chrondroitin, another naturally occurring substance that may help lubricate joints.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage doesn't have the ability to rebuild, and the joint loses cushioning fluid and often becomes inflamed. Glucosamine helps the cartilage naturally repair itself, thus slowing down or even reversing the damage to arthritic joints.
The glucosamine in formulas made for humans is no different from that made for dogs, and your dog can safely take your glucosamine supplements. However, glucosamine sold for dogs is often flavoured to make it more palatable for them--it has a naturally unpleasant taste. It's available in pills, capsules and liquid formulas, which can be drizzled over the dog's food. Some farm and horse suppliers have a malt-flavoured glucosamine joint formula that can be given to dogs as well as horses and other livestock.
According to Oklahoma State, glucosamine is very well tolerated, although some dogs will have mild, temporary diarrhoea when first starting it. There is no reason why a dog can't take it for its whole life. Oklahoma State notes that not all glucosamine formulas are effective and it can take six to eight weeks before you'll know if it's working for your dog.
Oklahoma State says that studies on the effectiveness of glucosamine are conflicting, and some studies on both dogs and humans have shown no difference between glucosamine and a placebo. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it works for many dogs and since it is generally safe, it's worth keeping your dog on glucosamine if it appears to work.
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