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Medications and Supplements for Dogs with Arthritis

Chondroprotectants

These compounds appear to modify the progression of osteoarthritis by preventing further breakdown of cartilage. Breakdown of cartilage is the first step in the development of degenerative joint disease. Chondroprotectants are most effective when used early in the course of osteoarthritis.

Adequan (a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan similar to glucosamine) is a chondroprotective given by intramuscular injection twice a week for four or more weeks. It can be used as a preventive in dogs who are at high risk of developing degenerative joint disease, such as those with hip dysplasia.

Other chondroprotective agents are nutraceuticals-products that lie somewhere between a nutrient and a drug. Nutraceuticals are believed to have medical value based on subjective evidence of their effectiveness, although clinical evidence based on controlled studies is lacking for many of these. Unlike drugs, nutraceuticals do not undergo an approval process and are not regulated by a federal agency. Numerous controlled studies in humans, limited studies done on dogs, and canine anecdotal reports suggest these substances do have medical value for arthritic dogs.

Most nutraceuticals used to treat osteoarthritis contain glucosamine, polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, and chondroitin sulfates-compounds known to be involved in the synthesis and repair of joint cartilage. Examples include Cosequin and Glycoflex. These compounds are given orally and can be considered as follow-up therapy after Adequan, or in any condition in which joint damage is anticipated or expected, such as trauma, surgery, degenerative joint disease, or immune-mediated arthritis.

Chondroprotectives may be given along with an NSAID. The combination reduces pain and alleviates joint inflammation. The chondroprotectants can also be used to help prevent the development of osteoarthritis. There are now some prescription diets that include chondroprotectants in their formulation. Always check with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to avoid adverse interactions with medications your dog may be on.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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