Cosequin and Glucosamine for Dogs

Cosequin contains glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate. These substances help rebuild joint cartilage in dogs suffering from arthritis. Adding these ingredients to a dog's food allows damaged joints to be rebuilt and helps reverse the process of arthritis.

The articular cartilage covering the ends of bones and the synovial fluid bathing the joint work together to lubricate and cushion the area from the impact of running, walking or jumping.

Arthritis is caused when a joint is damaged, often resulting in a cascade of enzymes being released which adversely affect cartilage and lowers the quality of the synovial fluid. This results in a joint which is painful and has reduced mobility and flexibility.

The initial damage to the joint may simply be the result of years of wear and tear, or from an acute injury such as a ligament tear or a joint dislocation. Dogs with underlying conditions such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia do not have the correct joint conformation, so the bones do not line up quite correcrtly. This can lead to abnormal wear on the joint surfaces and makes the development of arthritis more likely.

Cartilage is formed by cells called chondrocytes (chondro meaning cartilage). Chondrocytes have no direct blood supply - they rely on the surrounding tissues for all their nutritional requirements. The synovial fluid bathing a joint is particularly important.

"In a diseased joint, there is an accelerated breakdown of cartilage, and the rate of breakdown may exceed the rate at which the chondrocytes can rebuild."

Cartilage has two components - a fluid made up of water and electrolytes, and a solid matrix made up of woven collagen fibers holding together a 'ground substance' comprised of proteoglycans linked together to form long chains of sugars and proteins. The three major components are glucosaminoglycans (GAGs), called hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and keratan sulphate1.

Due to the continued stress the cartilage is under when the dog moves, the matrix is constantly being replenished to ensure continued cushioning of the joint. As a result the chondrocytes require a source of the cartilage building-blocks for maintanance. In a diseased joint, there is an accelerated breakdown of cartilage, and the rate of breakdown may exceed the rate at which the chondrocytes can rebuild due to a shortage of building blocks.

Many of the natural medications, or neutraceuticals, used for arthritis treatment are based on supplying these building blocks to enable the cartilage to be rebuilt more quickly. Two of the more common ingredients in neutraceuticals are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

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Glucosamine is the major building block used in the production of GAGs. This helps with both cartilage and synovial fluid synthesis in the joint. Glucosamine has also been noted to have anti-inflammatory effects, possibly as a result of an antioxidant-like effect, by removing potentially damaging free radicals from within a joint2.

Chondroitin sulfate is the major GAG in cartilage. It also helps to inhibit the destructive enzymes responsible for continued joint damage2.

Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are natural products. Glucosamine comes from sources such as lobster shells and cattle cartilage, while chondroitin sulphate comes from from shark and cattle cartilage or green-lipped mussels2.

Cosequin contains both glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate, as well as manganese,which is also required for production of cartilage. The three components together have a synergistic effect, making them more effective when used together3 rather than individually.

No prescription needed

Cosequin is available in capsule form, which can either be given whole or pulled apart and sprinkled onto food. It has been shown to be effective in being absorbed and transported into joints via the bloodstream after oral dosing. The daily dose depends on the weight of the dog. Capsules should be given for at least six weeks before assessing the result.3 Cosequin is available without a prescription. Adverse effects are uncommon, but may include stomach upsets3.

Pet Shed recommends you contact your local veterinarian if you suspect your dog has arthritis as they can diagnose the condition correctly and recommend an appropriate management plan.

1. Ross MH, Romrell LJ. Cartilage. In: Histology: a text and atlas. 2nd edition. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1989:123-129.
2. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate for Pets. The Arthritis & Glucosamine Information Center.
3. Cosequin DS Capsules Product Profile. Nature Vet Australia.

Cosequin is a registered trademark of Nutramax Laboratories Inc.