Whether the nutriceuticals MSM and glucosamine are effective to help dogs maintain healthy joints depends on who you ask. That's because the scientific jury is still out, although anecdotal evidence abounds and many veterinarians recommend them for arthritic patients. If you supplement your dog with MSM and glucosamine, don't expect an instant response. It can take while -- a month or more -- before you notice a difference in your dog's mobility.
Methyl - Sulfonyl - Methane
Methyl-sulfonyl-methane, usually referred to as MSM, is dietary sulfur. In the body, sulfur aids in connective tissue repair. Supplementing with MSM should increase the level of tissue repair in the dog's body, as well as act as an anti-inflammatory. MSM tablets or liquids are the oral version of dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, a solvent available in industrial and medical grades.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body, aiding in the formation of various structures, including tendons, bone and skin. Manufactured in joint cartilage, it aids with lubrication and repairing damaged cartilage. According to Veterinary Partner.com, glucosamine might have anti-inflammatory properties. The glucosamine source used in supplements originates from crustacean shells. While both glucosamine and MSM can aid to strengthen and repair cartilage, they can't do much for actual structural joint damage, such as heavy scar tissue or calcium deposits.
While MSM and glucosamine supplements are available over the counter, don't give them to your dog without checking with your vet. She might recommend specific brands or write a prescription for a medication available only through vets. Prescription MSM and glucosamine products not only have a guaranteed analysis and contain quality ingredients, but are backed up with research and clinical use studies. Your vet also will advise you on the correct dosage and frequency of administration.
If your dog suffers from severe arthritis, just using MSM and glucosamine probably isn't sufficient. Your vet might prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, which reduce inflammation and provide pain relief, or analgesics, which only relieve pain. Your vet also might recommend hyaluronic acid, injected directly into the joint to aid lubrication. Never give your dog human pain medication used for arthritis, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.