Side Effects of Chondroitin for Dogs

The use of chondroitin in dogs is an increasingly popular form of alternative therapy for canine arthritis and other degenerative joint and bone disorders. Chondroitin is a flexible substance that occurs naturally in dogs and other animals. It is a key component of cartilage, the connective tissue that cushions joints during movement.

Levels of chondroitin often decline due to cartilage deterioration caused by age, illness or injury. Some animal care experts believe chondroitin supplements may help reduce cartilage loss that contributes to the pain and inflammation of dog arthritis, hip dysplasia and other conditions. Chondroitin supplements, also known as chondroitin sulfate, are also thought to help contribute to the creation of new cartilage in aging or ill pets. Here is a summary of the most frequent side effects associated with chondroitin and information on selecting a quality form of this supplement for your pet.

Side Effects of Chondroitin

Unlike prescription dog medication, chondroitin is considered a nutraceutical, not a drug. Generally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements for people or pets. This often results in fewer studies on the effectiveness or potential side effects of products like chondroitin. Despite a lack of clinical studies, the most commonly reported side effects of chondroitin include elevated blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems like:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting

Owners may reduce the risk of adverse gastrointestinal reactions by giving chondroitin with food. Chondroitin is also a natural blood thinner and may increase the blood thinning effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Owners are advised to consult a veterinarian regarding potential risks of combining chondroitin with NSAIDs or other medications. Because of its anticoagulant properties, owners may want to suspend chondroitin use in dogs scheduled for surgical or dental procedures.

Selecting the Right Chondroitin Supplement

Like other unregulated supplements, chondroitin comes in many forms that may vary in quality. Chondroitin pills, liquids and chewable tablets often contain chondroitin made from cow and shark products. The supplement is frequently combined with glucosamine, another naturally occurring substance. Some experts believe chondroitin and glucosamine products intended for use in people may contain large concentrations of high quality ingredients. Others believe chondroitin designed to help treat dog joint pain and related disorders may be formulated for easier digestion and absorption by your pet. Some of the most widely used chondroitin supplements made for dogs include Cosequin, Glycoflex and Drs. Foster and Smith's Joint Care. These products contain important details on the recommended use and dosage guidelines for chondroitin and glucosamine in dogs.

A growing number of owners and animal care professionals are considering the benefits of chondroitin for older dogs as well as those with arthritis, hip dysplasia and other degenerative joint and bone disorders. Although it has been associated with unpleasant gastrointestinal reactions and potential blood thinning effects, chondroitin is often identified as a safe supplement for pets. Owners may still consider getting advice from a veterinarian or animal care expert before giving chondroitin supplements to their dogs.