If your dog suffers from joint pain, this twice-weekly injection may help.
Advertisement
dog running through water; adequan for dogs
Credit: Christian Müller / Adobe Stock

It's hard to watch your once agile, spry pup struggle with joint pain and lameness. Many dogs experience joint degeneration as a result of aging, past surgery, or injuries. Fortunately, there are many treatments available to help our canine companions feel more like their old selves. Adequan is one such option, and it can even be used along with other joint therapies.

Dogs with joint disease may show improvement on Adequan. Read on to learn more and decide if Adequan injections may be helpful for your dog.

What Is Adequan?

Adequan is the brand name for polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG), an injectable drug that may slow the progression of degenerative joint disease. It's used in veterinary medicine to treat dogs and horses with joint diseases like arthritis

The exact mechanism of Adequan is not known, but according to the manufacturer, it may work in the following ways:

  • Protect joints and prevent or slow further joint damage
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Stimulate cartilage activity (but it cannot restore cartilage)
  • Improve synovial fluid in joints

Few studies have been conducted in recent years, but a 2007 study revealed that PSGAG is effective in reducing lameness in some dogs with osteoarthritis. Adequan Canine is approved by the FDA to manage signs of "non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic arthritis of canine synovial joints."

How to Use Adequan for Dogs

If your vet recommends Adequan, they'll likely give the injections in the clinic as part of an outpatient visit. However, your vet may be able to show you how to give injections at home if you're up for it. Adequan is only available for purchase with a valid prescription from your vet. If you decide to give the injections at home, you'll also need to purchase needles and syringes (which sometimes require a prescription, too, depending on your area).

Adequan injections are generally given into a muscle. Treatments are usually recommended twice weekly for up to a month (eight injections maximum) at a dosage of 0.02 milligrams per pound of body weight. Your vet may recommend slightly different dosing depending on your dog's needs.

Adequan will not cure joint disease, but it can reduce your dog's symptoms for a period of weeks, months, or more. If your dog begins showing worsening signs of pain and lameness after the initial series of injections, your vet may recommend maintenance injections of Adequan.

Adequan tends to work best when given in the early stages of arthritis because it can slow down joint degeneration. Although it may also slow the progression of joint disease and ease some pain, it's typically more effective when used in conjunction with other treatments to manage osteoarthritis. Your vet may also recommend joint supplements, NSAIDs (such as carprofen), physical therapy, acupuncture, and even herbal remedies.

Adequan Side Effects

Side effects are uncommon, but some dogs experience temporary bleeding, swelling, or pain at the injection site. Diarrhea was reported in a few animals in the studies. These side effects typically resolve on their own without the need to stop Adequan injections. However, report any side effects to your vet right away. Though rare, some dogs may not tolerate the drug well. 

Warnings and Precautions

Adequan is considered safe to use in dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. However, it has not been researched in pregnant or lactating dogs. Adequan should be used with caution in dogs who have kidney or liver disease

Because PSGAG is a synthetic heparinoid (it has some pharmacological similarity to the blood thinner heparin) it may cause some excess bleeding. Because of this, Adequan should not be used in dogs with known or suspected bleeding disorders.

Before starting Adequan for your dog, be sure to tell your vet about any medications or supplements your dog gets. Although there are no known drug interactions, some drug combinations may lead to undesired effects.