Medications and Supplements for Dogs with Arthritis
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.