Treating Cat Arthritis With Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin, treatments for cat arthritis, had been used in Europe for over twenty years with remarkable success, before slowly gaining recognition from both doctors and veterinarians as a viable method to treat arthritis, osteoporosis and other joint disorders.

Glucosamine and Chondroitins' Functions

Glucosamine and chondroitin perform two essential-and very complicated-functions in building bone and cartilage.

The first basically provides the groundwork for building cartilage. The two main structures of cartilage are proteoglycans and collagen, and the construction occurs through cells known as chondrocytes. In the body, cartilage naturally wears down and is replaced. However, when arthritis is present, the chondrocytes are not properly rebuilding the cartilage because they do not have the building blocks necessary to do so. Glucosamine provides this by allowing for the production of glycosaminoglycans. These glycosaminoglycans will then combine with hyaluronic acid to form the proteoglycans, which the chondroytes will then use to rebuild the cartilage.

It is important to note that there are two types of glucosamines: glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. The latter is considered the purer form as it has a higher concentration of glucosamines, though has not shown to be as effective as glucosamine sulfate.

Chondroitin helps to block destructive enzymes that break down cartilage in joints. While chondroitin is necessary for the production of glycosaminoglycans on some level, it primarily neutralizes destructive enzymes in the joint. In arthritis or cases of abnormal wear, the level of these enzymes is increased and the destruction accelerated. By adding chondroitin to the diet, these levels are lowered and the destruction decreased.

Treating Cat Arthritis

Glucosamine and chondroitin therapy functions the same way in cats as it does in humans. When added to the diet, they help build cartilage and reduce its destruction, which can relieve arthritis. However, for a cat, treatment will usually be required for the rest of his life. If a treatment is stopped, arthritis can reoccur in as little as six months.

Dietary Supplements

There are several products available on the market for treating cat arthritis through glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Animals should not be given the same pills given to humans, as the dosages are drastically different. Some products available for cats include:

  • Syn-Flex
  • Glyco-Flex
  • Joint Care Primary 1
  • SeaFlex
  • Arthrix

These medications generally consist of both glucosamine and chondroitin in one dose.

Side Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin

As the therapy has little to no side effects, your cat can safely take supplements for years without issue. It has been reported in rare instances that a cat vomits or has diarrhea, though this occurred when given the supplements on an empty stomach. Likewise some cats are inclined to vomit pills, so crushing them and putting it into the food may be a viable alternative. Liquid forms of the medication are also available.

The use of glucosamine and chondroitin is growing in popularity as an effective treatment for cat arthritis. Though your cat will likely need treatment for the rest of his life, it has shown to allow joint cartilage to rebuild and thus greatly reduce arthritis.