Nutraceutical – just a made up word or something that can prolong our dogs lives? Pt II

After my investigations into Green-lipped Mussel, I couldn’t just leave it there, I needed to know what the 28% Glucosamine Chloride in my dog’s Yumove did too.

So investigation part two is here 🙂

Firstly there is more than one form of Glucosamine, this is usually Glucosamine Chondroitin or Glucosamine Hydrochloride, although these are also written and Glucosamin Sulphate and Glucosamine Chloride. Its no wonder us dog owners go with what the vets/internet suggest, its so difficult to find out what the ingredients actually are never mind what they do and whether they are helping our dogs!

But don’t worry, I kept digging and I will try to keep this non-sciency so we can all follow it.

The main difference between the types of Glucosamine are just the delivery vehicle the Glucosamine is carried in to allow the body to absorb it. Glucosamine Sulphate comes from Shellfish and contains 75% Glucosamine and a higher level of salt than Glucosamine Hydrochloride which comes from vegetables and contains 83% Glucosamine. So I’m thinking I prefer the Hydrochloride version which by the way is the type in Yumove.

But whichever type is in your dog’s joint supplement or specially formulated dog food/treats, does it do any good anyway?

Well, the next problems was finding studies that looked at Glucosamine on its own rather than as a combination nutraceutical. I only found one. It compared Glucosamine to injections of snail mucin or saline after surgically inducing osteoarthritis in young dogs! Details of the study are in the reference section, but I felt it was highly unethical. The results showed that Glucosamine slowed the progression of osteoarthritis in the joint. Injecting snail mucin, in case you wondered, caused painful swelling of the joint so don’t go scouring the back garden for snails.

The remaining studies used a combination product containing Glucosamine and Chrondroitin, which is a popular combination in several nutraceuticals marketed for improving joint health. Yumove ‘contains naturally occurring Chondroitin’ though the quantity is not stated on the ingredients.

The studies on this combination range from double-blind, randomised clinical trials (the gold standard in research) to subjective owner assessment (with a high chance of the placebo effect). Because osteoarthritis is a painful condition, most of the trials used a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), usually Carprofen, as the comparator rather than a placebo.

Whether treatment was monitored over 40, 70 or 90 days the Glucosamine + Chrondroitin supplement did not fair particularly well. With only one study (McCarthy et al 2007) suggesting that by day 70 pain and weight-bearing had improved, but not lameness or joint mobility which seems contradictory to me. If the dog isn’t in pain then why would it be showing signs of lameness?

The same study found that the dogs treated with Carprofen showed improvement in all measures including lameness and joint mobility, at much earlier point (42 days).

There is some evidence that Glucosamine + Chrondroitin may slow the process of osteoarthritis by slowing the degeneration of cartilage in the joint, but the evidence is not clear and shouldn’t we be spending our money on something that has been proven to work rather than something that ‘may’? If our dogs are in pain today, giving them a supplement that may slow further joint degeneration is clearly not adequate, we should be looking at reducing their pain first.

The Green-lipped mussel studies I talked about last week saw the greatest improvements in dogs that were being given both the nutraceutical and NSAIDs and so, as much as I am now dubious about some of the contents of these nutraceuticals, the studies has shown very few adverse effects (occasional stomach upsets in a minority of dogs) so as long as they are being used alongside medication from the vets for those dogs that already have degenerative joint disease then I feel they can’t do any harm. And perhaps for younger dogs to hinder the process of the inevitable arthritis we know will slow them down as they age, joint supplements could be a good idea.

For me, with two dogs that I know are struggling with osteoarthritis and are medicated for it, I’m going to shelve the Yumove and look at other supplements with a higher level of green-lipped mussel.

Further Reading:

Ajadi, A., Gazal, O., Otesile, E. and Kasali, O., 2013. Evaluation of Glucosamine and Snail Mucin on the Progression of Experimental Knee Osteoarthritis in Dogs. International Journal of Morphology, 31(1), pp.280-286.

Alves, J., Santos, A. and Jorge, P., 2017. Effect of an Oral Joint Supplement When Compared to Carprofen in the Management of Hip Osteoarthritis in Working Dogs. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, 32(4), pp.126-129.

Bhathal, A., Spryszak, M., Louizos, C. and Frankel, G., 2017. Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review. Open Veterinary Journal, 7(1), p.36.

Evans, R., Conzemius, M. and Scott, R., 2017. Efficacy of an oral nutraceutical for the treatment of canine osteo arthritis. Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 30(05), pp.318-323.

McCarthy, G., O’Donovan, J., Jones, B., McAllister, H., Seed, M. and Mooney, C., 2007. Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. The Veterinary Journal, 174(1), pp.54-61.

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