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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Chondroitin For Dogs: Does It Really Work?

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

Chondroitin for dogs is actually one of the most sought after treatments, especially among owners of older dogs and working or active breeds like the Australian Shepherd, which are often faced with painful and debilitating degenerative joint issues. Just as in humans, when the joints begin to break down the result can be limited movement, inflammation and chronic pain. If your dog is suffering from this type of degenerative joint condition, you may want to ask your vet about using chondroitin to help ease his pain.

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So what is chondroitin and why is it so helpful? Chondroitin is one of several natural substances, called glycosaminoglycans or GAGS, which are found in cartilage and help to provide shock absorption for the joints by promoting water retention and elasticity. It can also work to inhibit inflammation, particularly when used in conjunction with glucosamine. While chondroitin has been synthesized in laboratories, it is more often sourced from shark or cow cartilage.

While the effectiveness of chondroitin and glucosamine in humans has long been proven, less has been known about chondroitin for dogs. What is known is that many dogs are diagnosed with osteoarthritis and other joint disorders every day. As in humans, these disorders cause the layer of cartilage between the bones, which acts as a natural shock absorber, to break down. Once this happens the bones start to rub against each other, causing chronic pain and loss of mobility. As a result, many vets have begun to recommend the use of chondroitin and glucosamine in dogs, cats and horses.

Red merle Australian Shepherd running on snow.

hemlep /

Australian Shepherds are high energy and very athletic, which also means they can put a lot of wear and tear on their joints.

In dogs, particularly those that are very active, the joints can endure a lot of wear and tear over the years. Dogs can also be susceptible to other forms of joint problems including hip dysplasia, and spinal disc injuries, and chondroitin has been shown to help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by these conditions as well. Since it is nearly impossible for working dogs and dogs that participate in agility competitions to avoid joint damage from repeated motions, anything that can help to alleviate their symptoms is extremely advantageous.

Though any dog can experience joint damage, older dogs, like their human counterparts, are particularly susceptible. Larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia and active breeds like the Australian Shepherd can also have a tendency to develop joint issues, making them all very good candidates for the use of chondroitin for dogs.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Consult With Your Vet Before Using Chondroitin For Dogs

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While there has been much research into the use of glucosamine and chondroitin in humans, there is less proof of their efficacy in dogs, however clinical results have been very positive for dogs and cats, many of whom have responded quite well. It's not possible to know for sure which dogs will benefit the most but if your dog is suffering from joint pain you might want to consult with your vet about the possibility of using chondroitin to help alleviate his pain.

Chondroitin for dogs can be administered orally in pill, powdered, or liquid form and it is sometimes included, along with glucosamine, in dog foods formulated specifically for older dogs and performance dogs. It does not require a prescription and has no serious side effects, but it is still recommended that you only administer it to your pet after consulting with your veterinarian, who can recommend a dosage and a brand that is safe to use.

Remember that the formulations of chondroitin intended for humans are not the same as those for dogs, so you should never give your dog the human form of the medicine.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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