Q. Your recent discussion on NSAIDs for dogs was of interest to me since our last dog, an 85-pound Newfoundland mix, developed painful, vet-diagnosed arthritis in his legs and hips. He would cry and refuse to walk whenever he had to climb steps.
I myself had then suffered arthritis for nearly a decade and was taking an OTC supplement containing chondroitin, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid. The vet offered NSAIDs for the dog, and I asked if I could first try him on my OTC. In about a week Dawson was frisking about like a pup again, just as happy as he’d always been.
The next summer we left him at the kennel for two weeks, and when we returned he had arthritis symptoms again. They disappeared upon resumption of the supplement. He lived to be nearly 16 (extreme old age for a big dog) and never had bad arthritic pain again. We think of this as a de facto single-blind experiment, with no chance of a placebo effect warping the outcome.
A. We are intrigued by your story. A recent double-blind study found that glucosamine did not help build back knee cartilage or significantly change the structur of arthritic knees in humans (Arthritis & Rheumatology, online March 11, 2014).
Veterinarians seem to be comfortable using glucosamine with or without chondroitin, however, and many dogs appear to respond as your Dawson did.