Of course! Arthritis is actually very responsive to natural remedies. The main ones I recommend are glucosamine sulfate (250 mg per day) and MSM (200 mg per day). Glucosamine is a building block of cartilage and has anti-inflammatory properties; MSM is a building block of connective tissue and is also anti-inflammatory.
My latest discovery is hyaluronic acid, which is another building block of cartilage. It comes in capsules (100 mg per day), but the most amazing formulation of it is called Hyalun. It is made for horses, but it works fabulously in people. It's a liquid; the horse dose is only 1 ml per day. That is a very low dose, but for some reason in this form it works much, much better than the capsules. I take 1/2 ml per day, and within just a couple of days my arthritis was WAY better! A cat would only need a couple of drops; just as well because it's expensive. The cheapest place I know of is www.horsewarehouse.com.
The herb Boswellia is supposed to be excellent for arthritis, but I don't have any experience with it. Yucca is also good; I use it in my cats' food, but for another reason--it is a great "poop de-stinkifier"! Yucca is extremely safe.
Homeopathy can also help. In most sunbeam-loving, warm-lap-seeking cats, the main remedy would be Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy), 30C, once a day. Nowadays though, I use mostly homotoxicology. A combination of the BHI-Heel products Traumeel, Zeel, and Discus Compositum is a real miracle-worker. My first patient to try this, a Lab-Newfie mix who could barely get off the couch, was dragging my sorry butt up a mountain a couple of weeks later! Quite a few vets are using these remedies now; you can check www.holisticvetlist.com and scroll down to pick "homotoxicology" under Select Modality to find vets who use these products.
Do you have any recommendations for specific brands of glucosamine/MSM supplements? My vet is recommending Dasuquin. Also, do have any experience using Duralactin? We have been using that in combination with the 3V Caps (which I have to give as pills since he doesn't like the way they taste). It seems to help Odo some, but I'm thinking of adding the Dasuquin to replace the Hip Action treats I've been using. I'd hate to give him four pills per day though (the Duralactin is a 2x day supplement)--would you suggest removing one of the other components?
I just get 'em at the health food store. The vet product, Cosequin, is loaded up with all sorts of other stuff, which makes it expensive, but not a lot better, than just plain glucosamine sulfate. I'm not familiar with the other one.
There are some supplements that contain both glucosamine and MSM, but they are universally too low in MSM. Just get them separately.
Treats don't usually contain enough glucosamine to matter; the correct dose is 250 mg per day. If you find one that has that much, I'd love to know!
When I've heard people talk about Cosequin (and Dasuquin, which is made by the same company), they always emphasize that it is better because of its lower molecular weight chondrotin and because there have been studies done with it that show its effectiveness. My understanding is that most supplements have not been tested in pets and some can't prove that they have adequate amounts of the active ingredient even in the people version.
Is there a reason to use glucosamine sulfate instead of glucosamine hydrochloride?
The cat version of Zuke's Hip Action treats have 50 mg per treat, so I give Odo about 4-5 per day. I ignore their recommended guidelines, which would be too low for an arthritic cat. Their dog version has 300 mg per treat. I find it easier to give the treats than try to cram another pill down Odo's throat, since he's currently getting 2-3 pills per day on a normal day.
Many studies have proven that glucosamine hydrochloride is less well absorbed and utilized by the body. A brand new study found that "Following oral administration of a clinically recommended dose of glucosamine sulphate, significantly higher synovial fluid concentrations of glucosamine are attained, when compared to an equivalent dose of glucosamine hydrochloride." In 2007, a meta-analysis of published studies concluded, "On the basis of the results of recent randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses, we can conclude that glucosamine sulfate (but not glucosamine hydrochloride) and chondroitin sulfate have small-to-moderate symptomatic efficacy in OA" (osteoarthritis). And another study published last year put it more succinctly: "Glucosamine hydrochloride is not effective."
Glucosamine sulfate has a lot more scientific support than chondroitin, although chondroitin alone still appears to be effective. Chondroitin is expensive, and jacks up the price of the product; I'm not surprised by the story in your link.
Being a cheapskate myself, I just get plain glucosamine at Vitacost.com or Whole Foods, and it works just fine.
Yeah, yeah, I've heard that about Cosequin and its cousins, but I get great results with just plain ol' glucosamine sulfate. It's true that chondroitin is poorly absorbed, so they have done some chemical magic to change that...but these products still have a lot of extra stuff in them--IMHO mainly so they can charge an arm and a leg for 'em!
For the variable cats...you could probably split the 250 mg between your two smallest, although it's really safe and probably doesn't matter. It would save you a few bucks, though, and the cats might take it better if given a little less.
Bear in mind that it typically takes 3-4 weeks to see changes, so be persistent.
Do you have a dose recommendation for a 100-lb newfoundland mix?
My 7 year old Chewbacca has arthritis in his front legs. When he was diagnosed from our vet they gave him a shot of steroids and put him on rimadryl. After some research I went searching for alternatives.
Currently we feed him dog food with glucosamine and for the most part this has deterred any flareups. But when he does show pain, we now give him aspirin instead of the rimadryl.
Chewy is still young (at heart) and I would love to get him back into carting if his health would allow. I am encouraged about your newf-lab climbing mountains!
Sorry this isnt cat related... but was hoping since we were on the subject you might have a suggestion.
I treated Sophie with homotoxicology alone in the formula I mentioned. For your dog he'd do best with 750-1000 mg each of glucosamine sulfate and MSM per day.
A large breed dog is considered elderly at age 7. So even if Chewy gets to feeling great, I would not recommend any joint-stressing athletic activity like carting. He's an old man--let's let him enjoy his retirement! ;-) Note: Sophie didn't have a choice on the mountain thing since she lives on one...but that strain will likely limit her abilities in the long run.
Oh thank you very much. After you mentioned the dosage in treats, I thought perhaps he should be getting more than what his food is providing.
I know that Chewbacca is considered a senior now, but thought maybe some exercise would be good for him if he was feeling well, he actually loves carting and assumes the position the minute he sees his harness, but he hasnt been able to do it for awhile. Thank you for steering me straight!