Winter Weather and Your Pet's Arthritis
As the cold of winter settles upon us, making our lives more difficult with the shoveling of snow and icy driving conditions, it also can make life more difficult for our older pets. As pets age, they, like humans, can get arthritis in the joints. This can make it harder for them to run and jump and climb steps. The cold, damp winter weather can make the pain of arthritis increase. One way you can help your pet with their arthritis is to add a nutritional supplement containing glucosamine to their diet.
Glucosaminoglycans are found in the cartilage of the joints. As pets (and people) age, the joint linings deteriorate, resulting in arthritis and pain. Glucosamine sulfate is not commonly found in the foods we eat or feed our pets, so the glucosaminoglycans in the joints do not repair well. Adding a supplement of glucosamine sulfate to your pet's diet will aid in rebuilding the joints, thereby reducing the pain. It is NOT a pain reliever, so with severe arthritis some form of pain reliever such as Rimadyl may be required. But, over time, glucosamine supplementation will rebuild the cartilage layers of the joint, consequently lessening the pain.
Normally the glucosamine supplements are given twice daily for about 4-8 weeks, or longer, until improvement is noted indicating that the glycosaminoglycans have increased in the joint tissue. Slowly the frequency is decreased, until the pet may be given the supplement only once or twice a week to maintain comfort. If pain increases, such as during colder weather, then the dose can be increased again. Remember, it does not stop the pain immediately, as it is helping to rebuild the joint, which will take time, but ultimately will reduce the pain and increase the pet's activity.
The usual dose of glucosamine is 375 mg per 50 pounds of body weight. This is slowly increased or decreased as needed to maintain the pet's comfort level. The glucosamine comes in tablet form, often with additional supplements such as vitamins, chondroitin, or MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), all of which will also help heal the joint tissues and increase the lubricating joint fluid. Some pet foods already contain these nutritional supplements added in, but most do not. Check the label on your dog or cat food bag. If it does not, try the oral supplements such as the Missing Link Glucosamine Plus, Nutri-Vet Hip & Joint Soft Chews, Cosequin tablets, or Curaflex 2 Chewable tablets. Your pet will thank you for it - and possibly become more playful again!