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Strengthen Your Pets' Joints
The Power of Glucosamine
Traditionally, painkillers have been the conventional approach used for coping with joint pain in cats and dogs. However, these drugs have strong side-effects, and using them for prolonged lengths of time can damage organs such as the stomach, intestinal tract, and liver. Painkillers mask symptoms without addressing the real problems, and there are alternatives. A substance called "Glucosamine" has been getting special attention in recent years, and looks very promising as a way of both avoiding the problems caused by a "painkiller-only" approach and actually improving joint health, eliminating the root causes of joint pain in your pets.

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is an amino sugar found naturally in animals' bodies, most often within cartilage. (Cartilage plays an important role as a cushion inside joints, protecting bones where their ends touch and enabling smooth join movement.) Since cartilage is always in use during most activities (walking, running, jumping around, etc.), it needs to be repaired and maintained regularly. Glucosamine is a key part of keeping cartilage in good condition. Dietary Glucosamine may be obtained through chitin, which is found in the shells of crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.

When the body is still young and healthy, bone tissues are removed and replaced constantly. Most of the time, the body produces enough Glucosamine to repair and maintain joint health, but for various reasons (aging, joint wounds, degenerative bone diseases, etc.) the body may sometimes not be able to produce Glucosamine in sufficient amounts. When this happens, the joints become stiff and painful -- cartilage deteriorates, causing bare bones to rub together, which can be painful whenever an animal moves. Many pets (as well as humans) suffer from this unpleasant condition, known as "osteoarthritis." Supplemental Glucosamine can be very helpful in this situation.

Glucosamine is known to relieve the pain and inflammation of joints associated with arthritis. Also, Glucosamine is considered to slow down further damage arthritis can cause to cartilage.

Many veterinarians prescribe painkillers for pets with arthritic conditions, but these drugs do not help rebuild cartilage. They can only cover pain, hiding it while the situation may actually become worse. Glucosamine, however, actually helps rebuild cartilage. Furthermore, Glucosamine has very few side-effects. Glucosamine has been used effectively in both humans and animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses. Depending on the conditions of the joint problems (or the quality of the Glucosamine supplements), you may begin to see the benefits of Glucosamine in three weeks or so.

Besides using Glucosamine as a dietary supplement, there are other things pet owners can do to ease joint pain. Even in situations where bone growth and cartilage conditions are affected by unavoidable genetic factors, it is wise to do what you can to minimize joint damage as early as possible.

Please make sure your dogs and cats stay slim. Excessive body weight puts a lot of pressure on knees and elbows, wearing away cartilage at an unnatural rate. Feeding your pets good quality, nutritious food is also very important. Bones cannot mend themselves without nutrients, and so the food you give your cats and dogs becomes pivotal in dealing with problems such as joint pains and inflammations. Supplements such as Glucosamine cannot provide maximum efficiency without a good diet providing a solid foundation in the first place. Imagine if you built your house on a sandy hillside. No amount of nails and patching would save your home from sliding away if you didn't improve the foundation first!

When humans began creating larger breed dogs and dogs with longer backs (like Dachshunds), the change in body structure also changed the amount of stress placed on their skeletal and muscular systems. Glucosamine is particularly effective for medium to large breed dogs, old dogs, and dogs with long backs. However, don't forget that cats, too, can suffer from joint pains -- Glucosamine is also beneficial in these animals. Though arthritic pains are not as common in cats as in dogs, about 30% of cats are estimated as suffering from these problems.

There are many Glucosamine products for pets on the market today. When you consider buying Glucosamine supplements for your companion animals, consider products that also contain Chondroitin and other nutrients that support bone and muscle health. Chondroitin, by the way, is another substance helping to maintain good cartilage health. Besides being one of the major components necessary in the creation of cartilage, it is also thought to block destructive enzymes found within joints. Because Chondroitin is found naturally within the body, taking it as a supplement has few side-effects. Furthermore, Glucosamine and Chondroitin work synergistically (they complement each other). True holistic formulas support joints in many different ways.

If you see your pets limping, having difficulty getting up, or showing any signs of physical stiffness, they may be experiencing joint pain. Never forget to give your pet thorough, regular checkups at the vet. Between visits, supplementing with Glucosamine may help your animals regain and retain normal health.

Special Note: Although every effort has been made to present healthy products and useful information to support your pets' health, the products and information contained within this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The contents of this site are not meant as a substitute for consultation with a trained veterinarian. If you are concerned about the health of your pets, you should ask your veterinarian for proper guidance suited to the specific condition of your pets. The owners of this website accept no liability for any consequences resulting from the use of products and/or information provided through this site. Please use your discretion when attending to your pets' health.
Special thanks to Fintan Darragh, Rich Bensen, Maggie, Jiji, and Mary Crissman for providing our pet pictures!
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