Ask the Vet by Dr. Paula Terifaj, DVM
Now that you know there is real help for achy joints, let’s talk about the potential pitfalls in the big business of the nutraceutical industry. Nature’s little wonders aren’t monitored or regulated like prescription drugs. So what you see, you may not get. This means that people can be duped into spending a lot of money on products that disappoint. ConsumerLab.com purchased and tested more than 50 human and pet osteoarthritis supplements labeled to contain glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. This watchdog company exposed products that were contaminated with lead, missing certain listed ingredients, or had inadequate labeling. For a small fee you can review this report on-line.
Poor quality products are a witch’s brew of the following: listed ingredients do not measure up to label amounts, made with inferior sources of raw materials, may contain contaminates like lead or pills that fail to pass the dissolvability test for proper absorption. Expensive poop is the end result. Trusted brands could be worth paying more for when companies produce products that contain patented ingredients with ties to respected published research. Furthermore, never pay more for treats and pet foods that sprinkle glucosamine on products like fairy dust. There simply is not enough of the stuff to do anything. A fool and his money are soon parted.
Back when I started my practice back in the 1980’s, the first recognized natural compounds being used as a drug-free way to ease joint pain and stiffness were the glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s). Since they are natural components of cartilage necessary for function and repair, it made sense they might help if researchers could find a suitable method of delivery – meaning get them into joint tissues. It was not until the 1970’s that the code was cracked and we had the first commercially available products, glucosamine sulfate (naturally sourced from shellfish) and it’s synthetic cousin, glucosamine hydrochoride, made in the lab.
Cosequin, made by Nutramax, was the first patented combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate (both GAG’s) – a veterinary forerunner, but pricier than its generic knock-offs sold everywhere. My favorite in this category is Adequan – an injectable GAG formulation that got its impressive start treating injured horses. After four weekly injections, most dogs can be maintained on one to two injections per month.
Strong consumer demand paved the way for Nutramax to develop its next generation lovechild, Dasuquin and Dasuquin plus MSM. Using the same patented source of glucosamine and chondroitin (low molecular weight for better absorption) as in Cosequin, they added ASU for a synergistic effect. Nutramax also developed a feline formulation. Older, cranky cats should be screened for osteoarthritis as it remains underdiagnosed as compared to our canine companions.
Our third candidate has been around for decades. Cetyl myristoleate (CM) is derived from myristoleic acid, which occurs naturally in the African Kombo Nut, whale fat and beef tallow. CM’s healing properties were discovered by a research chemist on a quest to find a human cure for arthritis. Google Harry W. Diehl for a fascinating read – stay tuned for Part Three of this series next week!
Paula Terifaj DVM is owner of the DogSpa Resort & Wellness Center in Desert Hot Springs. To request a holistic consultation for your pet, call (760) 600-0246. More articles on her blog, Dog-Breath, at DogSpaResort.com/blog.