Cosequin Review: Does It Really Work? (We Asked A Vet)

Cosequin For Dogs
As a veterinarian, I see more and more elderly patients. On one hand, this is wonderful to see our loved fur-babies living long healthy lives but unfortunately, I also see more arthritis and mobility issues that impact upon the quality of life for these pups and their owners. We have no cure for these ailments, all we can try to do is help slow progression of these degenerative diseases and to ease any pain felt by our canine companions, though as you have probably heard throughout your life – “prevention is better than cure” which is why there are so many supplements available for both ourselves and our fur-babies. One well-respected company is Nutramax which makes a range of products for dogs and cats, including Cosequin for dogs.
In this article, we’re going to review the following Cosequin for dogs products:

Cosequin DS PLUS MSM

132 tablets

Cosequin DS

250 chewable tablets

Cosequin DS MAX

110 capsules/chewable tablets

Table Of Contents

Cosequin joint health supplement, produced by Nutramax Laboratories is one of the leading products available to support your pup’s joint health. In fact, the company claims to be the Number 1 Veterinarian Recommended Brand which is a bold statement. This statement is backed up by peer-reviewed veterinary studies so that’s saying something!
One great aspect of Cosequin for dogs is the variety of formulae that are available to meet all your fur-baby’s needs and activity levels. Manufactured using high-quality ingredients under strict quality control measures ensure that every batch of Cosequin meets it’s label claims.
The primary target market for Cosequin are all dogs that are developing age-related mobility issues. The company advises that you should start your pup on this supplement under veterinary guidance to proactively try to maintain your dog’s typical lifestyle. Cosequin may also help cartilage metabolism following joint surgery or in cases of congenital diseases such as hip dysplasia.
  • Choose a supplement with glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) or glucosamine sulfate, some supplements have glucosamine potassium chloride (KCl) which some consider to be of poorer quality than the others.
  • Supplements with both chondroitin and glucosamine are most appropriate as they may work synergistically to prevent destruction of joints.
  • A supplement that also includes methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may help with digestibility while MSM is also known to prevent cartilage breakdown.
  • Chondroitin can interfere with blood’s ability to clot so if your fur-baby has any blood disorder, then you should consult your veterinarian before starting any supplementation.
  • Glucosamine is often derived from shellfish so you should ensure the source is suitable for your pet if they have any food sensitivities or allergies.
  • Don’t expect fast results, while some people notice a difference within their pet’s mobility and interest in play within a few weeks it can take over 6 weeks to see a significant improvement in your fur-baby’s comfort levels.
  • Consider how you will get your pet to take this supplement (capsule, liquid, chew treat, etc). This may be particularly important if your pup is fussy with food.
  • Value! Supplements are expensive so you should ensure you’re getting appropriate concentrations of the active ingredients for the price you’re paying. Independent certification of a product is generally a good indicator that the product contains what’s stated on the package.

(132 tablets)

Our Rating

4.6/5
Cosequin DS PLUS MSM
This chewable tablet form of Cosequin is a safe and highly digestible treat. Containing the Cosequin proprietary formulae of Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, these treats also have added MSM which helps to support a healthy cartilage matrix within your fur-baby’s joints.

What We Like About It

  • Available in a range of concentrations for all size pets
  • Safe with scientific literature to support claims

What We Don't Like

  • May not be suitable for very fussy eaters who don’t like tablet form treats
  • Some pets may have mild gastrointestinal upsets if given without food

(120 soft chews)

Our Rating

4.4/5
Cosequin MSM Plus & Omega 3
These yummy soft chews also have added omega-3s along with their trademark glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM formula. Not only will your pup’s joints be supported but this formula also helps to maintain skin and fur health.

What We Like About It

  • Also helps with your dog’s skin to give a glossy coat
  • Delicious soft chews loved by most pets

What We Don't Like

  • Needs a higher dose in the initial loading phase for 4-6 weeks
  • Not suitable for pups under 10lbs

(250 chewable tablets)

Our Rating

4.6/5
Cosequin DS 250 chewable tablets
These yummy beef and cheddar flavor tablets contain double strength chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride to help support your pooch’s joint health and protect against arthritis

What We Like About It

  • This formula is also available in capsules
  • Scientifically proven formula

What We Don't Like

  • Glucosamine is derived from shellfish which may not be suitable if your pet has allergies
  • May not suit very fussy eaters

(110 capsules/chewable tablets)

Our Rating

4.6/5
Cosequin DS MAX (110 chewable tablets)
These easily delivered capsules are packed with proprietary glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate to maximize support of your fur-baby’s cartilage health. Also available in chewable tablet form, these easily digestible treats can be used to help with training without your pup even realizing they’re taking something healthy.

What We Like About It

  • Scientific research backs up the supplement’s claims
  • Easily administered via either chewable tablet or capsule that can be hidden with food

What We Don't Like

  • Glucosamine derived from shellfish which may be of concern if your pet has allergies
  • Some very fussy pets may not like the capsule form
We mentioned Cosequin DS Plus MSM chewable tablets earlier in this article but here we’re going to look at this supplement in more depth.
Cosequin DS PLUS MSM

Some Key Features:

Not new to the market, Cosequin has been around for more than two decades4 but research regarding joint health is continuing to this day and will continue, improving our understanding of joint repair mechanisms. Through research, Nutramax has developed proprietary formulations of glucosamine hydrochloride and sodium chondroitin sulfate to support and maintain canine joint health. Earlier studies showed that these ingredients aid in maintenance of the joint’s cartilage matrix while preventing its destruction5.
Cartilage is the cushioned surface within joints that is very resistant to destruction when accompanied by the lubricating joint fluid and strong bones underneath. One problem is that cartilage doesn’t have it’s own blood supply and relies on the bone and joint fluid to provide nutrition. If damage occurs in any component of a joint, enzymes are released that start to break down areas of the joint, and if left unchecked serious damage can occur which leads to pain and arthritis. While research is continuing to reveal more factors related to cartilage breakdown, Cosequin has been shown to help maintain a healthy turnover of cartilage4.

FCHG49TM* Glucosamine

Glucosamine acts as one of the building blocks for a healthy cartilage scaffold by providing this essential nutrient to support cartilage cell function.

TRH122TM* Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin has an anti-inflammatory role which helps to stop certain destructive enzymes.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

This natural sulfur-containing compound helps to aid in manufacture of the collagen in cartilage while also providing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.

Manganese ascorbate

Manganese helps with enzyme functions throughout the body and your pup's bones and skeletal system needs sufficient manganese to maintain strength.

  • Improved comfort when exercising
  • Increased interest in exercise and returning to normal energy levels
  • May slow progression of joint disease
  • Delay onset of painful signs of osteoarthritis
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Traumatic injury of cartilage
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cruciate and stifle disorders
Short answer? Yes! Long answer? Also yes, though you should discuss with your veterinarian if your pet may benefit.
Nutramax Labs recommend a loading dose course of 4-6 weeks until improvements in your pooch’s mobility are evident, though some people report seeing signs within 2-3 weeks.
Always discuss specific dosages with your veterinarian, particularly if your pup has any health concerns or is a sensitive soul as recommended doses on the package may need to be adjusted for your fur-baby.
Cosequin is recommended to start at an initially higher ‘loading dose’ daily for 4-6 weeks or until you notice positive effects. You may then reduce to the maintenance dose, usually administered every other day, just ensure your canine companion remains comfortable on the lower dose.
The actual dose will depend on the concentration of tablet or capsule purchased and the size of your pooch. Most Cosequin products are not recommended for pups under 10lbs but a ‘mini’ version of these formulations are available for these beautiful micro-pets.
One of the safest products on the market, a study on Cosequin has shown no adverse effects on blood parameters including clotting and biochemistry markers which is a concern with any medication. This is one of the significant advantages Cosequin has over some prescription arthritis medications, however, it isn’t a cure and your veterinarian may still need to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication for your pooch.
The most common side effect (and it’s not that common) seen with Cosequin is mild gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting or diarrhea. This is naturally more common with pets who already have sensitive stomachs and offering Cosequin with food is usually enough to stop these side effects.
Remember the majority of these studies have been applied to Cosequin only and are not necessarily applicable to any supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Always use supplements in consultation with your veterinarian.
the woof on the street
So after all the science, what are people whose pups have tried Cosequin saying!
I have a Sussex Spaniel/Chocolate Lab mix, named Duke. He is the sweetest dog who ever lived and whoever will live (although admittedly, I am biased). He just turned twelve this year, and I have been afraid he may develop the notorious Lab hip problems, so I have always kept a close eye on him. About 3 months ago, Duke started having problems with stairs. When we would go upstairs to bed, Duke would pace back and forth, hesitate at the bottom of the steps and whine before finally coming up the stairs; he was in pain. It broke my heart. Some nights he stayed downstairs, and I know he didn’t like being away from us. He also started sleeping on the bathroom tile during the day, I think the cold felt good on his sore joints. After about a month of this behavior, I realized it was not just a pulled muscle or something temporary, so I started researching supplements. Enter this product. The directions say to give the dog 2 pills a day for the first months, and then go down to 1 pill a day after that as a maintenance dose. That means this one bottle will last Duke 4 months, which is very convenient for us and our wallets (although I would gladly spend any amount of money to make my Big Brown Boy feel better). It has been 3 and a half weeks since starting this supplement. Duke is a whole new dog. He is active, jumping up and down, and even wrestling with Chunk, his 5-year-old Yorkipoo brother. I can actually see it in Duke’s face that he feels better. He is happier. He has a sparkle in his eye that you usually see in much younger dogs. My Big Brown Boy has become my Big Brown Bouncing Boy, and I am so happy that he is probably going to be feeling better a lot further into old age than I previously thought possible, all because of this supplement that has absolutely changed his (and our) lives. Now, Duke goes up the stairs for bed with ease, and we are confident that his golden years will have a much better quality of life.
“My vet gave me some great advice on choosing the right kind of joint supplement for my then 6year old lab, Phoebe. Phoebe wasn’t in pain, but I noticed she was slowing down during play time. My vet told me to do my research on which joint supplement to buy and don’t just buy the most expensive one assuming it’s the best. Well, I did my research and this one seemed to have all the right reviews, that I decided to purchase it. Within a week, I noticed a difference. Phoebe was back to her youthful self. She was jumping high to catch her frisbee, able to take longer walks, and wanted to play ball for longer times. Phoebe has even gone back to her old ways of out-running me when she is misbehaving. This use to infuriate me but to be honest, I was a little happy this time that she was too fast for me to catch her. Phoebe is almost 8 and she is still very active. This is a great joint supplement and I highly recommend it. I should note that this supplement needs to be given every day, not just once in a while as it will not work. I once ran out and decided not to purchase anymore as I didn’t think phoebe needed it anymore but within a couple of weeks, I saw her slowing down again. I quickly purchased more and she’s back to normal. Also, unlike her monthly flea pill, Phoebe LOVES to take this supplement! It’s like a treat to her.”

Similar to ourselves, our fur-babies can suffer from joint pain, either due to trauma, old age degenerative changes or some congenital diseases such as hip or elbow dysplasia. Some breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors or Spaniels are prone to certain joint diseases such as cruciate disease, osteoarthritis or inflammation of growth plates. Joint supplements may be invaluable for some of these dogs and you might consider starting your pup on a supplement before any clinical signs of discomfort are evident.

Veterinarians have advocated for the use of joint supportive compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin which have been shown to have positive effects on dogs with osteoarthritis1. Not all supplements, however, are created equal so you may wish to undertake some research into any products you may consider. This review article aims to help provide you some more information about one of the well-known brands on the market, Cosequin2. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both involved in building cartilage and may prevent a further breakdown during osteoarthritis. Glucosamine may also have anti-inflammatory action while supporting production of synovial fluid which provides lubrication within the joints.

Deciding when to start your pup on any supplementation can be a difficult decision; it’s important to remember that these are not treatments but may help support your pet’s joint health. You may want to start your fur-baby on such a supplement before any signs of pain are evident, particularly if their breed is one at an increased risk such as many large and giant dog breeds. If, however, you’re beginning to notice some of the signs listed below or your pooch has been diagnosed with a hip or joint mobility disorder they may still benefit from the support provided by these supplements.
  • Limping, reluctance to jump
  • Stiff or slow to rise or lie down
  • Reluctance to exercise or starts resting more than usual
  • Difficulty using stairs and steps
  • Excessive panting, particularly on a relaxed walk
  • Crying or whining when getting up or guarding an area from being stroked
If you notice any signs of discomfort in your pup, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible and allow your pet to rest if needed.

In conclusion

Not sure if your pup needs a joint supplement? Chat with your veterinarian to discuss your pup’s needs in the first instance. When choosing a product for your pup, you want a supplement that’s affordable but has good quality ingredients to maximise the benefits to your pup’s joints. Companies that have independent certification like Nutramax are highly recommended by many veterinarians.
Joint supplements are not just for aging pets and if your pup is a breed that’s predisposed to orthopedic issues then early introduction of glucosamine and chondroitin to their diet can help reduce mobility issues in the longer term, not to mention, helping to keep veterinary bills low.
Remember the majority of these studies have been applied to Cosequin only and are not necessarily applicable to any supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Always use supplements in consultation with your veterinarian.

References

1. McCarthy, G., J. O’Donovan, B. Jones, H. McAllister, M. Seed and C. Mooney (2007). Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. The Veterinary Journal 174 (1) pp54-61

2. Buyue, Y. and J.P. Sheehan (2009). Fucosylated chondroitin sulfate inhibits plasma thrombin generation via targeting of the factor Ixa heparin-binding exosite. Blood 114 (14) pp3092-3100

3. Das Jr., A. And T.A. Hammad (2000). Efficacy of a combination of FCHG49TM glucosamine hydrochloride, TRH122TM low molecular weight sodium chondroitin sulfate and manganese ascorbate* in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 8(5) pp343-350

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