Glucosamine: going the way of echinacea (and with just as many hanging on to their belief – in spite of all evidence)

I’ve seen several pieces in the last year or so questioning the efficacy of glucosamine for arthritis treatment: the research is clear that it provides no benefit in humans, and a recent spate of study is increasing the likelihood that it’s not much use in dogs, either.

Which, understandably, can make some people who love pooches suffering from arthritis anxious and upset: NSAIDS have their own associated worries (though some of those fears may be inflated), and there aren’t any other good options.

Gilly’s gradually diminishing joint-capacities completely freak me out: I want him to be pain free and I also want him to live a long life (with happy kidneys and a functional liver) that isn’t compromised or shortened by medication side effects.

The main reason it freaks me out is because it’s visible sign of his mortality, and damn it, I don’t like that.

When a couple of different vets recommended glucosamine as being worth a try in spite of uncertainty about whether it works, I gave him solid 3 month trials on several incarnations of the stuff, from the most basic pills to the fanciest and most expensive chewies: none of them made any appreciable difference, so we stopped, which also made no appreciable difference, except to my wallet (which was hurting more than his joints by then). I’m glad we tried it, because now I won’t doubt that I left something of possible help undone.

What does seem to make some real difference is keeping him slim, muscled, good and fit but with less and less indulgence in high impact sports like ball and stick-throwing, and making sure he’s generally healthy — all that and having nice, clear, dry days.

All but that last thing I can help him to maintain.

And none of these things will make him immortal, or immune to aging. Damn it.

Skeptvet has an interesting post up about the placebo effect and why we sometimes remain committed to things that don’t work, even when the most ethical and loving thing is to let it go and do what does:

Cognitive Dissonance In Action: Glucosamine No Matter What!


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