I've already talked at length about glucosamine and chondroitin, which constitute the major GAGS in the joint cartilage. Remember that glycosaminoglycans serve as a major component of articular cartilage.
Glycosaminoglycans function by decreasing the presence of harmful pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and other inflammatory enzymes that degrade the cartilage matrix. This results in reduced pain and inflammation, decreased enzymatic destruction of the cartilage, and stimulation of anabolic (cartilage-building) pathways. The GAGS also appear to increase the synthesis of proteoglycans, hyaluronic acid (which acts as a joint lubricant), and collagen.
One novel product called Adequan contains glycosaminoglycans (specifically hyaluronic acid, or HA) extracted from bovine cartilage and is available in an injectable form (HA is not well absorbed orally). The recommended regimen is a series of eight injections, two each week for 4 weeks. If the pet has responded favorably during the 4-week trial, we then give the pet an injection as needed (usually one injection every 1 to 12 months, varying from pet to pet). This injectable product can be used with oral chondroprotective supplements as well. The injectable product can be used to get a faster response than the oral supplements. Further injections are given as needed, or pets can be maintained on oral supplements according to the response seen and the convenience for the pet owner.
Note: This product has also shown effectiveness when flushed into joints during joint surgery, allowing faster and smoother recovery (JAHVMA, August-October 1996). Side effects with GAGS are extremely rare, though dose-dependent inhibition of blood clotting has been reported. If you are concerned, have your dog's doctor regularly monitor blood coagulation parameters.
Excerpt from The Arthritis Solution for Dogs: Glucosamine used by permission of Prima Publications.
Copyright © 2000 by Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M. All rights reserved. Excerpt from The Arthritis Solution for Dogs, Prima Publishing, Roseville, CA.