by Sandy Herzon
( appeared in Labrador Retriever News Newsletter Summer 1998)
Open up any dog-related magazine and it won't be long before you'll come across full-page ads advertising for Glucosamine, Chondroitin or both in a complex. Read up on the claims made by the companies touting their products and it sounds too good to be true. "Relieves pain, speeds up recovery time on injuries, reduces swelling", and even "helps reduce the incidence rate of hip dysplasia". These and other claims are among those made about both of these two ingredients.
Although most of the products advertised are relatively new on the market, the ingredients, Glucosamine and Chondroitin have been in use with racehorses for decades. Trainers recognized that these food supplements actually enhanced the total performance of the horses. Stiff joints healed 3 to 4 times faster with horses on the supplements. At first it wasn't totally understood what properties Glucosamine or Chondroitin possessed. However the theory was that if it worked you used it. The trainers also claimed that horses conditioned with these supplements in their regular feed, had decidedly smoother and greater range of motion to their gait.
Animals seemed to recover from injury and surgery a lot faster when supplied with the ingredients. Soon thereafter, intense research was done on how these nutrients worked on the system to provide such evident results.
The bottom line in non-medical terms was that both Glucosamine and Chondroitin helped replace fluids normally found between joints that are lost or deprived due to stress, activity or injury, they also helped form other cushioning ingredients in connective tissue and other surrounding joint tissue areas. They helped to reduce normal swelling from over strenuous activity.
It wasn't long before greyhound breeders and trainers were using both supplements in their conditioning programs at dog racetracks. After seeing the great results with greyhounds, other dog breeders and Veterinarians began to prescribe to their clients the use of both supplements to aid in joint and hip related problems.
Our first contact with Glucosamine/Chondroitin was about 12 years ago. One of our show dogs developed a limp that couldn't be diagnosed through x-rays or physical examinations. After several Vets had seen the dog with no conclusive diagnoses, a "Natural Nutrition Practitioner" was consulted. This particular Vet also tended to a large greyhound race track and upon seeing our Labrador take a few strides, he concluded that the dog's synovial fluid reservoir in the joints was very low thus the dog's joints tended to become sore after a lot of activity. "Give him several teaspoons of this product every day in his food and call me back a week from now", he would announce with plenty of long earned confidence.
With some skepticism about this "magic dust" substance, we proceeded and the results indeed were astonishing. That was our introduction to Glucosamine and Chondroitin as a must supplement for all our Labs. Since then, with a judicious breeding program, using only the best individuals to breed to, relying on only the best X-ray results and supplementing all our breeding stock with both ingredients, our percentages of "good" X-ray results have soared to well over 96%.
For Labs on a regular maintenance program we use Lab-Well's Lab Flex DS MAX Glucosamine & Chondroitin PLUS MSM. For those Labs involved in field trials, agility tests, search and rescue, show training & conditioning or other more rigorous activities we use 4 capsules of Lab Flex DS MAX. For Labs suffering from strains, stiffness, and lameness or recovering from any joint related surgery, we encourage the added use of Lab-Well's Lab Glo Rice Bran as it aids in a faster recovery time when used in conjunction with the LabWell's Lab Flex DS MAX. . Another supplement that is added to the many Labradors retrievers under our management is LabWell's Lab Glo Rice Bran product. Rice bran is extremely rich in Tocotrienols, very powerful anti-oxidants that combat degenerative disease, especially those that affect the erosion of articular cartilage. It also contains those special nutrients that keep joints well lubricated, helping to prevent joint related problems before they start and aiding in the healing process when they do occur.
At our training facility, we are able to see first hand the positive results from the use of all of these supplements. The majority of the 100 plus Labradors we see on a weekly basis are given the complex as a daily routine. These particular dogs are participating at many different levels of training and competition. As a whole they seem to be in far better overall condition, have decidedly less training accidents and it seems that their gait and range of movement is smoother, more efficient and with a lot less effort.
There have been several clients whose Labs were either limping or were suffering from soreness, a few had experienced some form of mild accident; all were advised on the use of the Chondroitin/Glucosamine complex plus the rice bran supplements; the majority of the cases responded immediately with outstanding results within a week of administration of the nutrients.
As always if you are in doubt about a product, consult with your health care professional. In cases of prolonged lameness or stiffness, consult with a Vet. or radiologist. Breaks in bones, tears in ligaments and other trauma might need further Veterinary attention.
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