Thursday, January 2, 2014

Glucosamine Benefits in Older Pets... and Declawed Cats

Some of you may recognize Caleb from previous posts. He was a venerable old cat, regal and dignified. He passed away just shy of his 20th birthday, back in 2005.

Keenly intelligent and quite the hunter, Caleb moved with feline grace until the age of 17, when he began to show signs of osteoarthritis. About the only thing that surprised me at the time was that it didn't present itself sooner!

Like so many pet parents with cats and dogs who suffer from this ailment, we made adjustments for him, placing makeshift steps near favorite places he loved to frequent to make getting around easier.

Caleb at 10. Handsome seal point Siamese. You'll read more about him in this fall's anthology,
"Rescue Me: the Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes" by FitCat Publishing.

Then our veterinarian suggested we try glucosamine. Humans have been taking glucosamine for decades, and the debate has raged as to whether there is actual benefit, or people are experiencing the placebo effect.

Within a week, I was able to put that debate to rest. It worked. And no one told Caleb the powder we were sprinkling over his food was going to ease the pain in his joints, so no placebo effect to worry about!

The following Saturday after we began giving the supplement, Marty pointed to Caleb and asked me if I saw what he'd just seen: a cat nimbly jumping up onto the kitchen counter (where he should not be!).

I was too thrilled to scold him. ;-)

The Mayo Clinic states that "evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis ... by strengthening cartilage".

Both dogs and cats suffer from this condition, and both can benefit from the use of a species-appropriate supplement such as the ones made by Lintbells

There's another reason - a very important one - that I'm very pro-glucosamine.

Declawed cats.

Maxwell, looking as sweet as ever
Dr. Jean Hofve of Little Big Cat states that arthritis is a very common result you see in declawed cats.

And until the U.S. catches up to other countries such as the U.K., Europe and Australia, we will be left with the aftermath of this surgical amputation procedure.

Our deaf rescue boy, Maxwell, is declawed. I watch his gait, I compare it to Faraday's, and I worry. And I watch.

And at the first sign of possible arthritis - even at a young age - I'm going to be giving him glucosamine supplements.

Arthritis is also becoming increasingly more common because of another health situation: pet obesity.   We've mentioned in previous posts that pet obesity has increased at an alarming rate, to the point that technically it meets the requirement to be called an epidemic.

Extra weight causes unnecessary stress on joints. (I'll bet you know where we're going with this!)

Extra stress on joints can hasten the onset of arthritis in both dogs and cats. If it doesn't hasten it, it can most certainly exacerbate the existing problem.

Little Miss "I'm just big-boned" is on a diet.
We don't want her to suffer as she ages!
And if your New Year's resolution to help your pet shed those extra pounds includes increased exercise, arthritic pain could pose a problem.

That's where glucosamine can help. Your pet will be much more open to exercise if he doesn't hurt while doing it.

And, according to the web site Arthritis Research UK (among may others), another supplement in addition to glucosamine may be beneficial:
Omega 3. 

The University of Maryland Medical Center states that "a number of small studies have found that fish oil helps reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including joint pain and morning stiffness."

If your pet suffers from arthritis, you might also consider giving a supplement as a complement to glucosamine. (Not instead of, but in addition to, as studies are still gathering information on Omega 3's arthritis effectiveness, whereas glucosamine is well-established.)

One quick note on which products to use: please, please don't treat your pet with human pills! Aside from the fact that pet-formulated glucosamine will have appropriate dosages, they are also formulated to ensure that no ingredients that are harmful to pets are included. (Plus may of them add tantalizing flavors to encourage your pet to accept them more readily)

Wishing you all a healthy new year, for both you and your pets.


FTC Disclaimer:  I have written this post on behalf of Lintbells, a U.K.-based health supplement company. I am helping spread the word about Lintbells, however, all opinions stated in this post are our own. A Tonk's Tale only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.  


University of Maryland Medical Center
Mayo Clinic
Arthritis research UK
Little Big Cat

Monday Medical Disclaimer: 
I am not a veterinarian, and the information provided here is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional veterinary care. Nor should it be used to self-diagnose for your pet. This information is for educational purposes and to provide you with reputable documentation you can use to pose informed questions of your own to the veterinarian of your choice.


  1. Some things help sometimes, an we is glad that stuff helped Caleb.

  2. We are big fans of glucosamine here. And we have also read that it helps mancats if they are likely to have a build up of urine crystals - something about dispersing nasty particles that can cause blockages.

    And Äiti takes the human form!

    Thank you for another informative post.

  3. We too use Glucosamine here. Very interesting. Have a tremendous Thursday and we hope you had an awesome start to the new year.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. My human sometimes wonders if we should be getting glucosamine - we aren't exactly youngsters! But we are pretty active and don't seem to be having any trouble - I think not being overweight may be helping us avoid arthritis for now.

  5. Again, as always, a wonderful article. xox

  6. What an informative blog, thank you!!! Our dog gets Glucosomine treats, but have been thinking of trying something better. I never would have thought about declawed cats needing it, but this makes complete sense!!

  7. merci beaucoup c'est très intéressant.
    Meilleurs voeux de bonne année 2014 et bonne santé.
    Laurence, Opale et SOnye

  8. Thank you so much for this excellent and informative post. Lily Olivia will be 15 on her next b'day, and Mom continues to watch her right rear leg for signs of problems as that leg was dislocated and broken when she was hit by a car at about age four. She does favor it some when it is cold, but it hasn't stopped her from running, jumping and doing whatever else she wants. Now we know there is something that can help her if this happens. Thanks again! Happy New Year! Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Lisbeth, Astrid and Calista Jo

  9. Oh wow. Thanks for sharing this! Very interesting!

    My two Ragdoll cats are declawed:-( I didn't do it. I am a HUGE anti-declaw person, and refuse to declaw Star and Saphira.

    I believe that declawing is awful and WRONG. It is the equivalents of cutting your fingers off at the first knuckle!
    How painful and hurtful. Makes me furious!

    Did you declaw Maxwell? Or did you get him like that?

    Ragdoll Mommy~

    1. We totally agree - declawing is mutilation. It's awful! Have you ever seen the documentary, The Paw Project? We did over the holiday break and recommend it for all cat lovers. And we applaud ask the cities in California who are the first in the US to ban such an inhumane practice.

    2. Nope, never seen the Paw Project movie, but I have heard of them; and I SO want to see the movie!

      Is Faraday declawed?

  10. Thank you for this information. With only Annabelle being the teenager around here the others are older kitties and this may be something I should check into for them.

  11. Since Whisky developed osteoarthritis in her hips, I've been researching all I can about it. I recently added Krill Oil (for the Omega 3) to her diet in addition to the glucosamine and I must say there has been noticeable improvement in her mobility. I'm hoping for more improvement with longer term use of the Krill Oil. :)

  12. that is very interesting. our old mancat still gets around pretty well....but mom worries about a certain (round) girl cat

  13. manee thanx guys for de info frum thiz post...frank lee we never hurd bout de clawing N arthur itis bein linked.....we wuz all dee clawed when we bee picked up frum de shelter...gram paw dude wuz on glucosamine for a wee while N it seemed ta help him :)

  14. That is a very interesting post. I like how you always put information from many sources together for us. It is really helpful!

    We didn't know Maxwell was declawed. My human still cannot comprehend how you can do that to a kitty...

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Tex! We agree with your human. But we think there is an entire generation of well-intentioned but completely uneducated cat owners out there who simply don't know better. That's why our Allie is Poster Girl for alternatives at our shelter. ("See? You can use soft paws instead!")

  15. Glucosamine is also good for the bladder..

    I wonder if giving it prior to seeing an issue with arthritis would help prevent things from cropping up

  16. Excellent post friends. My sisfur's kiteties both have Arfritis and the both take glucosamine, which has helped them lots. We highly recommend it - it's not a cure all, but it does help them move easier.

  17. Veterinarians rarely seem to explain what declawing surgery really is, and people trust their veterinarians to do what's right for their cat. I think it's the veterinarians we need to work on.

    I'm so glad this comes in sprinkles now! Years ago I tried to use it for Moses who had been feral and had underdeveloped hind legs, especially her "knee" and "ankle" joints. I had to give it to her in this huge pill and she put up with it for a month, then said she wasn't going to trust me anymore. I had worked so hard to win her trust, it wasn't worth it, and she managed, but I know it was always painful.

  18. Likewise, Ms. Stella is 18 and she takes the glucosamine in treat form. She does much less favoring of one shoulder when when she is good and takes her treats. I can tell when she's missed some.

    Great post

  19. We have read that a large percentage of cats over 7 have at least some arthritis, so this is good to know.

  20. The mom gives me glucosamine because of my back issues.


  21. Maybe we should try giving some to Carl. At 16, he is showing signs going up stairs. Other than that, he seems to be ok and in purrfect health.

  22. GLOGIRLY: I should ask about glucosamine for Katie at her next visit. Although she doesn't like to talk about age, she's technically turning *senior* GASP! this year.

    KATIE: SENIOR???? Uh, who's the one that's received not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR AARP cards this year.

    KATIE: And Allie...I feel your (hunger) pain. Good luck on the whole diet thing. Just don't make yourself look like Marie Osmond. ; )

    WAFFLES: Who's Mary Ozman? Is she related to the Wizard?

  23. Thanks much for another well written article that can help many.
    Our elder, Buddy, was quite obese when Dad Rescued him and had a pronounce limp that was worse with small jumps such as off the couch. After loosing some 8 pounds he zooms around like the rest of us.
    Good to know about this supplement though as non of us are getting any younger.
    Purrs and a nod
    Timmy and Dad

  24. I do not think my comment went through so will just say Thanks for another great post!
    Timmy and Dad

  25. My human sprinkle´s a powder with green-lipped mussel on my food.
    There is a lot of Omega 3 in that and that is good for you :)



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