Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
Can dietary supplementation help cats and dogs with arthritis? If so, which ones have proven to be useful and what can I expect if I use them?
As with humans, finding true pain relief for cats and dogs suffering from arthritis can be extremely challenging. Certainly the two most common forms of arthritis we are confronted with in veterinary medicine are hip dysplasia (ball and socket joint of the rear legs become eroded away) in dogs and cats, and ankylosing spondylosis of the lower spine (bony fusion between vertebrae). Both of these are observed in cats, but with less frequency. Twenty years ago, the only viable options we could present to owners whose animals were in obvious discomfort were corticosteriods and several surgical procedures. These are still used commonly, but if we can eliminate the need for surgery with appropriate and safe dietary supplements, this is the ideal situation. Remember, surgery should be a last resort, not a first.
Chondroitin Sulfate/Glucosamine and Prozyme are the two supplements that have become universally accepted in veterinary medicine. The beauty about these two supplements is that neither is a "drug", if you will. They are naturally occurring compounds in the body. Chondroitin Sulfate/Glucosamine are the natural components of cartilage and have been proven to delay onset of clinical signs if used in the early stages of arthritis. It will help repair damaged cartilage and dramatically increase the amount of synovial fluid (joint fluid that gives cushion to our joints). Clients must be cautioned that four to six months may be needed to see expected results, although many owners report their animals are more comfortable much earlier than that.
Prozyme, a supplement made up of naturally occurring pancreatic enzymes, was originally formulated for gastrointestinal problems in people (Tymezyme) and animals. It is known that 15-25 percent of the protein eaten by animals is never digested. Using this product, it was found that less than five percent is undigested; therefore, a greater percentage of protein is now available to be used for reparative purposes or stimulating the immune system.
The key is to consult with your veterinarian about what will work best for your beloved pet!