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What Are Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Supplements?

This A+ FRR Pet Food Nutrition FAQ discusses glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements and the benefits these chondroprotectants can have on preventing and managing bone and joint health issues and disorders.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are naturally occurring components that act as building blocks for the functioning of healthy cartilage and flexible joints. These organic supplements work by minimizing cartilage damage and swelling, increasing joint lubrication, helping to rebuild the cartilage that cushions and protects joints, and enhancing new cartilage production.

Numerous studies on the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin have found these components to be critical nutrients that assist in supporting flexibility, comfort, and range of motion — for pets as well as for humans.

Chondroprotectants (chondro - cartilage) such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are being prescribed increasingly by conventional as well as holistic veterinarians. The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has been found helpful in relieving inflammation and may even reverse the degenerative process in some dogs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are widely recommended for their potential value in helping pets suffering from or genetically predisposed to suffering from arthritis and joint pain, including aches and chronic pain from osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, and osteochondrodysplasia.

These supplements work by nourishing the cartilage and increasing viscosity of the synovial fluid (the joint's lubricating system), thereby reducing friction and pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin attract fluid into the joint's cartilage system and help the body repair damaged joints while keeping the cartilage-destroying enzymes under control — all with equal or better results than anti-inflammatory drugs.

In short, chondroprotectants:
•  Help to lubricate joints
•  Provide a mechanism for nutrient absorption
•  Produce an anti-inflammatory effect on joints
•  Regulate activity on cartilage
•  Inhibit enzymes that break down cartilage
Flint River Ranch has developed two glucosamine and chondroitin-fortified products to assist in the possible prevention and holistic treatment of arthritis and joint-related pain: our Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and our Jubilee Wafer dog biscuit treats.

There is no need to wait for the symptoms of arthritis to become pronounced to start using Jubilee Wafers or the PLUS pet food formula because the wafers and kibble work as great preventatives. A regular diet of Flint River Ranch Plus or a steady supplement of Jubilee Wafers can even be started in young dogs known to have a predisposition to osteoarthritis, joint dysplasia (hip, elbow, knee or shoulder), degenerative disc disease, osteochondrodysplasia, or related health issues.

Chondroprotectants like Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate should be a part of a complete care program supervised by your veterinarian.

Symptoms and Holistic Treatment

The most common problems dogs encounter as they age include osteoarthritis, rheumatism, schleroderma and arthritic diseases. Genetic disorders include Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Herniated Discs / Degenerative Disc Disease, Myasthenia Graves, Degenerative Myelopathy, Osteochondritis Dissecans, Panosteitis and Leg-Calve-Perthes Disease. Symptoms often include pain, lameness, reluctance to climb stairs, stiffness, joint distortion, wobbly and uncoordinated gait.

Treating your dog's pain and stiffness from an age- or genetic-related issue is essentially management of the arthritis, as in some cases nothing can be done to correct the underlying problems of joint laxity or to reverse the degeneration of the bones. On the other hand, alleviating the inflammation and pain of arthritis without negative side effects is often enough to restore function to the joint and a meaningful quality of life.

A Scientific Primer on Chondroprotectants and GAGs

Cartilage consists of four parts. Chondrocytes are the actual living cellular part. They produce and deposit two construction macromolecules called collagen and proteoglycan around themselves, creating an elaborate criss-crossing meshwork matrix, like a felt pad. The fourth part is water, as a permeating matrix infusion, comprising 65 to 80 percent of the cartilage mass. This very high water content is essential in preventing cartilage deterioration.

Each proteoglycan bears several thousand special water-loving molecular attachments, called glucosaminoglycans, or GAGs for short. GAGs are powerful water "magnets" that attract and tenaciously hold inside the matrix the 65 to 80 percent water content of cartilage. The principal GAG is called Chondroitin Sulfate, and accounts for 66% of the GAG production. The GAG concentration in the matrix is a crucial focal point in any efforts to arrest cartilage deterioration.

Specifically, Glucosamine is one of the major components involved with the formation of cartilage and is key in the development of critical lubricants and shock absorbers necessary to maintain and restore healthy joint performance). Glucosamine facilitates the renewal of cartilage and helps keep cartilage lubricated to maintain its naturally slippery texture. These mechanisms of action improve the structure of joints.

Chondroitin is a natural polymer of protein and disaccharides and is composed of glucosamine, galactosarnine, and glucuronic acid. Collectively, chondroitin sulfates make up a major portion of the GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) in cartilage, and glucosamine, a precursor of hyaluronic acid and other GAGs, helps with cartilage repair. Hyaluronic acid is a principal component of cartilage and helps with inflammation and discomfort. Chondroitin works together with Glucosamine to promote the healthy flow of water and nutrients into cartilage producing cells.

GAGs and Flint River Jubilee Wafers

Flint River Ranch's Jubilee Wafers are specifically formulated for dogs as tasty treats that may function to inhibit cartilage degradation by helping to stimulate the body's ability to produce more GAGs. The cartilage makeup of the Jubilee Wafer formulation may help with the hydration of joints because of the formula's polyanionic characteristics, which provide the lubrication needed in joints for proper function.

The GAGs in the Jubilee Wafers are in the form of a functional and natural food rather than the traditional oral pill form. The natural, organic makeup means that feeding Jubilee Wafers in conjunction with arthritis medication by your veterinarian can be useful with no side effects. They are not a substitute for treatment, but rather a supportive means to assist with canine discomfort.

Recommended Products: Related terms: Chondroprotectants, glycosaminoglycans (GAG's), cartilage repair, chondrocytes, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, osteochondrodysplasia

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