Your service dog or emotional support dog has been moving a little slower in the mornings. Or maybe you’ve heard an audible “pop” when they get up (you know that sound — your joints probably make it, too). Perhaps you’ve even overheard comments about limping or a favored leg (a scary concern for service dogs). Such symptoms could point to the development of osteoarthritis (the clinical term for arthritis).
Wait, arthritis? “But my service dog (or emotional support dog) is only a couple of years old!”
Like people, arthritis has the potential to start early. Luckily, there’s a supplement available that can heal and slow the progression of canine arthritis. Have you heard of glucosamine? Glucosamine is just the supplement to protect, repair, and ease the joints of your service dog — keeping him or her comfortable and able to report for duty.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced by the body. (Don’t worry: it’s not involved in the glucose pathway.) It’s found naturally in cartilage and bone (especially trachea), green-lipped mussels, and shellfish shells. Supplements are available in a lot of forms:
— Chewable tablets
— Powders to sprinkle on foods
You should discuss starting glucosamine with your veterinarian, but prescriptions aren’t required. You can find glucosamine for your service dog at the vet office, online, or in pet stores. NEVER use human glucosamine for your dog — it often contains Xylitol, which is toxic to animals.
1. Understanding Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is, unfortunately, a natural process of aging. Cartilage, the shock absorber between the bones, starts to grow thinner and wear away. As a result, the bones rub together. Ouch!
Aging alone isn’t responsible. If your service dog suffered previous trauma or orthopedic disease, this process happens faster. As a result, you might observe:
— Difficulty sitting or standing
— Trouble jumping
— Refusal to use stairs
— Swollen joints
— Lack of interest or inactivity
— Lethargy or depression
— Weight gain
— Tenderness in the affected region
What does this have to do with glucosamine? It turns out glucosamine is produced within the joints of the body! It combines with collagen and helps repair cartilage. Ta-dah!
Unfortunately, as the body ages, glucosamine production decreases. The lower the glucosamine levels, the lower your service dog’s ability to replenish that weakening cartilage. And arthritis trots in the door to make your poor canine companion feel miserable.
Supplementation is one of the ways to keep this natural repair system functioning.
2. Minimizing Other Pains
Arthritis is a big enough pain in the neck… er, the joints. However, glucosamine has the potential to aid your service dog in feeling comfortable in other situations. While research is spotty (supplements can’t be patented, so pharmaceutical companies don’t invest much money in such studies), veterinarians have seen glucosamine provide pain relief. Along with traditional therapies, glucosamine is used to treat:
— Spinal disc injury
— Joint surgery recovery
— Hip dysplasia
You hope your service dog won’t suffer one of these conditions. However, knowing glucosamine supplementation aids in pain relief is just one more vote in favor of daily use. If supplementation helps those conditions, imagine the comfort possible for your dog.
3. Glucosamine and Chondroitin: BFF’s
Rarely do you see glucosamine on its own. Most commercial preparations pair it with chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin prevents enzymes from breaking down cartilage. Together, the two have the potential to provide your service dog or emotional support dog with:
— Less joint stiffness
— Healthy bones and joints
— Improved integrity of the joints and other connective tissues
Now, you CAN find chondroitin naturally. It occurs in cow and pig cartilage, as well as the shells of crabs, oysters, and shrimp. However, finding quality sources to protect your service dog from contaminants can be tricky. Also, you want to make sure you’re providing the proper amounts (“I have to feed HOW many crab shells?!”). It’s a lot easier to administer a reputable, high-quality supplement.
4. Benefiting the Athlete
Suppose your service dog or emotional support dog ISN’T showing signs of arthritis. Maybe you have an athletic bundle of energy on your hands. It turns out glucosamine has benefits for these canines, too.
The healthier the cartilage within a joint, the easier it moves. Providing daily glucosamine keeps your dog in peak condition. Athletes put a lot of strain on their bodies. A little extra TLC goes a long way to keeping those joints happier longer.
Your service dog is a natural hard worker. Think of everything that becomes part of his or her routine. While they may not participate in agility training every day, their activity level is similar. Starting intervention with glucosamine NOW, before aging has a chance to take over, is a great way to show them you care.
5. Bonus Benefits of Glucosamine
They aren’t advertised in the commercials or even listed on the labels for glucosamine. Still, the supplement provides additional benefits that may be advantageous for your service dog or emotional support dog. Glucosamine has natural anti-inflammatory properties. While this is (obviously) great for pain in the joints, it also works in other parts of the body.
It turns out glucosamine helps ease inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. While you hope your service dog never has to experience any traumatic issues with their stomach, there’s some peace in knowing their daily supplement will provide comfort.
The same building blocks that create cartilage create skin. Guess what that means? Glucosamine helps heal skin wounds! Again, you hope your service dog never experiences such trauma. But doesn’t it make you feel great knowing their daily glucosamine treat has that potential?
Glucosamine: Wonder Supplement
Whether your service dog is showing signs of pain, or you just want your emotional support dog to remain in top condition, glucosamine has a lot of benefits. This supplement, combined with chondroitin, has the potential to ease inflammation throughout your dog’s body. That should alleviate a lot of concerns for you!