Adequan: Is It a Steroid?

As pet owners, we often seek to find the best treatments to keep our furry friends healthy, comfortable, and happy, especially when facing conditions like osteoarthritis. One such treatment garnering attention is Adequan Canine. But is Adequan a steroid? Today, we unravel the mystery around this therapeutic agent, its uses, potential side effects, and the critical question of whether it is a steroid or not.

Decoding Adequan: What is It?

Adequan Canine is a prescription injectable medication primarily used to control symptoms associated with non-infectious degenerative or traumatic arthritis in canines. Known in the scientific community as a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG), Adequan is derived from bovine tracheal cartilage.

The key takeaway here is that Adequan is not a steroid. Steroids, specifically corticosteroids, work primarily by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation. In contrast, Adequan has a different mechanism of action. It helps maintain joint health by inhibiting destructive enzymes within the joint, stimulating new cartilage production, improving joint lubrication, and increasing the thickness of joint fluid.

How Adequan Works: Breaking Down the Process

Adequan gets to work by helping to relieve joint pain and restore joint lubrication, reduce inflammation, and rebuild cartilage within the joint. It achieves these results by binding to damaged cartilage and blocking the action of enzymes that contribute to the breakdown of cartilage. At the same time, it stimulates cartilage repair by providing the building blocks needed for the synthesis of new cartilage. Its comprehensive action on joints explains why it’s a preferred choice for veterinarians in managing canine arthritis.

Adequan vs. Steroids: A Comparative Insight

While both Adequan and steroids can be used in managing joint diseases, the way they function is significantly different. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can quickly reduce inflammation and pain. However, their long-term use is associated with potential side effects, including increased risk of infections, weight gain, behavior changes, and possible damage to cartilage.

On the other hand, Adequan helps manage arthritis by directly acting on the joint health, reducing pain and inflammation while helping repair and protect the cartilage. Its side effects are relatively less severe and typically include mild pain or swelling at the injection site.

Long-Term Use of Adequan: Safety Aspects

Regarding the long-term use of Adequan, several studies have demonstrated its safety. The American Animal Hospital Association’s pain management guidelines even recommend PSGAGs, like Adequan, for long-term control of osteoarthritis symptoms. However, like all medications, Adequan should be used under the supervision of a veterinarian who can make the best judgment based on the individual dog’s health status.


In conclusion, Adequan is not a steroid but a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan that helps manage the symptoms of arthritis in dogs by improving joint health. Its unique mode of action and relative safety make it an attractive choice for long-term management of canine arthritis. However, always remember that each dog is unique, and any treatment should be based on the specific needs and health condition of your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions About Adequan Canine

1. How is Adequan Canine Administered?

Adequan Canine is administered through intramuscular injections, typically given by a veterinarian. The recommended dosage is usually twice a week for up to four weeks, although your vet may adjust the frequency based on your dog’s specific needs.

2. When Can I Expect to See Results from Adequan?

While every dog’s response may vary, many pet owners start noticing improvements in their dogs’ mobility and overall comfort within two to four weeks of beginning treatment. However, it’s crucial to remember that Adequan is not a cure for arthritis. It’s a management tool designed to alleviate symptoms and improve the dog’s quality of life.

3. Are There Any Side Effects to Using Adequan?

While Adequan is generally considered safe, there can be mild side effects, including temporary pain or swelling at the injection site. In rare instances, dogs may experience allergic reactions, characterized by hives, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing. If these occur, it’s essential to seek immediate veterinary attention.

4. Can I Use Adequan in Combination with Other Medications?

Yes, Adequan Canine can be used in combination with other medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and nutritional supplements. However, your vet should be informed of any other medications your dog is taking to avoid potential drug interactions.

5. Is Adequan Suitable for All Dogs?

Adequan is generally suitable for dogs of all breeds and sizes suffering from non-infectious degenerative or traumatic arthritis. However, it should not be used in dogs with known or suspected bleeding disorders. Always consult your vet before starting any new medication, including Adequan.

6. How is Adequan Different from Oral Joint Supplements?

Oral joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, are often used to support joint health in dogs. However, these are dietary supplements and not medications. Unlike Adequan, which has a direct effect on the joints and has been scientifically proven to help repair cartilage and reduce inflammation, the efficacy of oral joint supplements varies.

7. Can I Give Adequan to My Cat?

Adequan is approved for use in dogs and horses. Although some vets may use it off-label in cats, it’s crucial to consult your vet before administering any medications to your pet.

8. How Much Does Adequan Cost?

The cost of an Adequan Canine can vary based on factors such as the dog’s weight, the frequency of treatment, and the pricing of individual veterinary clinics. It’s best to discuss the cost with your vet to get a clearer understanding of the potential expenses involved.

9. Can Adequan Prevent Arthritis in Dogs?

Adequan is primarily a therapeutic agent designed to manage symptoms of existing arthritis. While it can aid in slowing down the progression of joint degeneration by protecting and helping repair the cartilage, it does not necessarily prevent the onset of arthritis.

10. How Long Do Dogs Need to Stay on Adequan?

The duration of Adequan treatment depends on the severity of your dog’s arthritis and their response to the medication. Some dogs may see significant improvements with a short-term regimen, while others may require ongoing administration. Regular vet check-ups can help determine the optimal duration of treatment for your pet.

11. Can Adequan Cause Kidney or Liver Damage?

Unlike NSAIDs, which can potentially harm liver or kidney function over time, Adequan is not known to cause damage to these organs. Nonetheless, if your pet has pre-existing kidney or liver conditions, it’s vital to discuss these with your vet before initiating Adequan treatment.

12. Can Adequan Be Used in Pregnant or Lactating Dogs?

The safety of Adequan in pregnant, breeding, or lactating dogs has not been determined. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before administering Adequan to a dog in any of these conditions.

13. Is Adequan a Painkiller?

While Adequan can significantly alleviate the pain associated with arthritis by improving joint health, it’s not classified as a painkiller or analgesic. Rather, it’s a disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug (DMOAD) that works by targeting the disease processes leading to pain.

14. Can Adequan Improve My Dog’s Mood?

Many pet owners report a noticeable improvement in their dog’s mood and overall well-being after initiating Adequan treatment. This change is likely due to the reduction in pain and increased mobility, leading to an improved quality of life for your furry friend.

15. Are There Any Alternatives to Adequan?

There are several other treatments available for managing canine arthritis, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and various nutritional supplements. In some cases, lifestyle changes such as weight management and physical therapy may also be beneficial. Discuss with your vet to understand the best course of action for your pet.

16. Is a Prescription Required for Adequan?

Yes, Adequan is a prescription medication. It must be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian after a thorough examination of your pet’s health status. Self-medication is strongly discouraged, as it could lead to adverse reactions or suboptimal treatment outcomes.

17. Can Adequan Be Used in Conjunction with Physical Therapy?

Absolutely. In fact, combining Adequan with physical therapy can be highly beneficial for dogs with arthritis. While Adequan targets the disease at a cellular level, physical therapy can strengthen muscles and improve joint flexibility, leading to overall better mobility and comfort for your pet.

18. Is Adequan a Suitable Treatment Option for Young Dogs?

If a young dog is diagnosed with non-infectious degenerative or traumatic arthritis, Adequan can be an appropriate treatment option. However, it’s critical to discuss this with your vet, who will consider all factors such as the dog’s age, overall health, and severity of arthritis before prescribing any medication.

19. What Happens if I Miss an Adequan Dose?

If you miss a dose of Adequan, administer it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Avoid giving a double dose to make up for a missed one. Consult your vet if you’re unsure about what to do.

20. How Should I Store Adequan?

Adequan should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from light and out of reach from children and pets. The ideal storage temperature is between 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Always check the expiration date before administering the medication.

21. Can Cats Use Adequan?

While Adequan is primarily marketed for use in dogs and horses, some veterinarians may prescribe it off-label for cats suffering from arthritis. However, its use in cats should be under the direct guidance of a vet due to the lack of extensive clinical trials in this species.

22. Are There Any Dietary Restrictions When Using Adequan?

There are no specific dietary restrictions associated with Adequan use. That said, a balanced diet can significantly impact your pet’s overall health, including joint health. Discuss your pet’s diet with your vet, as dietary adjustments may support arthritis management.

23. What Should I Do If I Notice an Adverse Reaction to Adequan?

If you observe any adverse reactions such as behavioral changes, worsening of symptoms, or any other concerning signs after your pet has received an Adequan injection, it’s crucial to contact your vet immediately. Early intervention can prevent potential complications.

24. Can I Use Human Arthritis Medication Instead of Adequan?

It’s not safe to substitute your pet’s prescribed medication with human arthritis medication without your vet’s approval. Some human drugs can be toxic to pets and could lead to serious health problems.

25. How Does Adequan Differ From Over-The-Counter Joint Supplements?

While both Adequan and over-the-counter joint supplements aim to improve joint health, they work differently. Adequan is a prescription medication that modifies the disease process of arthritis and promotes cartilage repair, whereas OTC supplements mainly provide nutrients that support joint health.

26. Will Adequan Cure My Dog’s Arthritis?

Adequan does not cure arthritis as arthritis is a progressive, degenerative disease. However, it can slow down the disease progression, reduce pain, and improve your dog’s mobility and quality of life.

27. Can Adequan Be Used Post-Surgery?

Adequan may be recommended as part of the post-surgical management plan for dogs who’ve undergone joint surgery. It can help in tissue repair and improving joint function during the recovery period.


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