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Animal Medical Clinic - St. Paul

Joint Supplements

Joint supplements are used to help dogs and cats with arthritis. They help reduce pain and inflammation in some but not all dogs and cats. The most common of these nutritional supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, and other glycosaminoglycans, also known as GAGs, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and cetyl myristoleate (CM). All of these products can be given with conventional medications to help your dog or cat experience less pain and inflammation. They also help your pet to move around more easily.

Conventional Medication: Many kinds of medications are prescribed for arthritis. Corticosteroids (steroids) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) are the most common medications prescribed. These medications reduce inflammation and pain, but also have side effects that your veterinarian will discuss with you. These medications may be used for short periods of time or intermittently to avoid the side effects.

How do the joint supplements work?

Glucosamine: This is used by cartilage cells to help stimulate the creation of synovial fluid (joint fluid) and cartilage. It also inhibits the destructive enzymes that breakdown cartilage and proteoglycans (the building blocks of cartilage). It may also work to scavenge harmful free radicals.

Chondroitin: This provides cartilage with the building blocks to repair itself as well as block enzymes that breakdown cartilage. It may also increase the amount of hyaluronic acid in the joints. It also seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): This supplies the body with sulfur, which is used in the formation of cartilage.

Cetyl myristoleate (CM): The exact mechanism is unknown but may act similarly to omega 3 fatty acids (which are found in fish oil, dairy butter, and animal fat) and act as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory.

Conventional medications (steroids and NSAIDs) may relieve pain and inflammation within 48 hours. Nutritional supplements may take 4 to 8 weeks before improvement is seen. These supplements may have a residual effect, even after the product is no longer being given. These products are generally considered safe with minimal side effects. It is best to follow the dosing instructions given by your veterinarian and consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.