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Adequan for Dog Arthritis


Adequan for dog arthritis is a medication that is prescribed to many dogs suffering from joint and mobility issues. As dogs age, they tend to suffer more and more from the pain of arthritis and such pain may have a negative impact on their ability to engage into day-to-day activities and overall, enjoy life. There are many options for providing pain relief to dogs suffering from arthritis ranging from natural supplements, to prescription medications and other treatment options such as acupuncture and chiropractic care. Adequan for dog arthritis though remains one of the most effective treatments. Following is information about Adequan for dog arthritis by veterinarian Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic.

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Adequan for Dog Arthritis 

Adequan is an injectable drug that is FDA-approved for use in dogs and horses; however, unofficially, this drug is used safely in cats for the same indication - joint pain, with great success.

Adequan is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG), a semi-synthetic glycosaminoglycan (sugar), extracted from bovine tracheal cartilage. This glycosaminoglycan (GAG) is similar to glycosaminoglycans already present in the cartilage, so it is easily integrated inside the joint cartilage after application.

Indication for using Adequan include any kind of limp, decreased activity, difficulty to go up or down the stairs, difficulty getting up, lost interest in activity as a result of joint abnormalities and/or arthritis with consequential joint stiffness and pain.

Mode of Action 

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Joint diseases in dogs are very common, and they are defined as the deterioration of the joint cartilage and the following inflammation of the joints. Adequan drug (by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals) was made more than 20 years ago for the treatment of traumatic arthritis as well as noninfectious degenerative arthritis, associated pain, and lameness of synovial joints.

In a healthy joint, when pressure (during movement) is exerted on the joint, fluid moves inside the joint, exchanging nutrients between chondrocytes (the basic and the only building unit of healthy cartilage) and synovial fluid.

During joint disease, cartilaginous matrix starts disappearing and synovial fluid becomes less viscous which leads to friction and causes leukocytes and enzymes to enter and add to cartilage inflammation. This process releases steroids, which kill chondrocytes leading to more damage and degeneration.

The specific mechanism of action of Adequan in joints is not yet well known. Some studies have shown that this drug controls the signs of arthritis by: reducing the inflammation by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandin E2 (promoters of inflammation), inhibiting the catabolic enzymes which degrade cartilage, stimulating the synthesis of GAG, collagen and hyaluronic acid by chondrocytes, which are the building blocks of healthy cartilage; however, Adequan cannot reverse the bone loss or cartilage loss caused by the disease

Adequan is made primarily to help the animal by relieving the pain of arthritis; a main mode of action of this drug can be presented as lubrication of the joint and stimulation of cartilage repair, and preventing further damage and deterioration.

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Dosage of Adequan For Dog Arthritis

Adequan for dog arthritis has a very low molecular weight that allows its distribution to the synovial fluid within 2 hours. Detectable levels of the drug are maintained in the joint for up to 3 days after application (that is why the application is twice a week, once every 3-4 days).

Some protocols consider using PSGAG twice a week for four weeks, then, once a week, and then once a month to prevent relapse or in cases of senior dogs. These protocols are mostly made for senior dogs or dogs during postoperative periods. All of these nonstandard protocols are different, dependent on individual case presentations and should be completely under the control of your veterinarian.

The duration of administration of the drug depends on the condition being treated, and the entire treatment plan should be done according to your veterinarian’s prescription.

"The dosage of Adequan is 2 mg/lb (.02 ml/lb or 1 ml/50 lb) given by intramuscular injection only, applied twice a week for up to 4 weeks (max 8 applications). Adequan is packaged as 100 mg/ml in a 5 ml preserved multiple-dose vial, packaged 2 vials per box. " ~Luitpold Animal Health 

Side Effects of Adequan For Dog Arthritis 

Adequan for dog arthritis is considered very safe but still can cause side effects in a few cases. The most common side effect is the pain at the site of injection with swelling, and the second most common symptom is an upset stomach.

Other side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, while some studies revealed low blood platelet count as a side effect connected to abnormal bleeding, which cleared up after taking the dog off the medication.

Due to the potential prolonged bleeding problems, this drug should be avoided around the time of surgery (before the surgery), as well as in dogs with coagulation disorders.

During safety studies, applying mega-doses of Adequan showed changes in the kidneys and the liver, so it is advised to use it with caution or in lower doses in cases with somehow compromised liver or kidneys. Adequan has not been tested on pregnant or nursing dogs.

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Adequan for dog arthritis costs

The Cost of Adequan Injections for Dogs 

One 5ml vial of Adequan costs around 70 dollars. One vial equals 5 doses for a dog weighing 50 pounds, so the whole therapy (8 shots) would cost around 114 dollars.

Adequan for dog arthritis is not cheap, but the success rates are pretty high. Clearly, there are dogs that do not respond well to this therapy or do not respond in the desired way, but this drug was made to control the signs of degenerative joint diseases, and in more than 75 percent cases this drug will improve the range of motion as the first sign of improvement.

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About the Author

DVM Ivana Vukasinovic is a veterinarian in Belgrade, capital city of Serbia.


She received her B.S from University of Belgrade in 2012, and her master’s degree from Veterinary University, Belgrade.

Before eventually becoming director of Vetanima Doo, company that sells animal food, medicine and supplements, she has worked in many different fields of sales.

After finishing college, she started working as sales person in the biggest Serbian bookshop chain, and being passionate about books, she had reached the position of publisher.

After leaving this field, she started working as a veterinary commercialist, and then landing a job as veterinarian at veterinary pharmacy, in the same company in which she is now acting as director.

When she is not working, she is either glued to some fantasy book or cooking for friends. She currently resides in Belgrade with her cat Mile.

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