Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan?

Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan/PSGAG (brand names: Adequan®, Chondroprotec®) is an arthritis medication used to prevent joint degeneration and to protect the cartilage in the joint.

While its use in dogs and horses is FDA-approved, its use in cats, rabbits, rodents, and small mammals to treat arthritis is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan given?

Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan is given by injection, usually in the hospital setting. It can be given into the muscle or directly into the affected joint.

This medication can take up to a few weeks before full effects are noted, but gradual improvements are usually noticeable.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects are unlikely when used as an injection into the muscle. When administered into the joint, joint pain and swelling may occur. Rare side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, or sleepiness. Serious side effects include bleeding or unusual bruising.

This moderate-acting medication should stop working in a few days.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan should not be used in pets that are allergic to it, or pets with a known or suspected bleeding disorder. It should be used cautiously in pregnant or nursing animals, or pets with kidney or liver dysfunction.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with polysulfated glycosaminoglycans: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other anticoagulants.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working. If the medication is administered into the joint, monitor your pet at home for joint swelling or signs of infection. Monitor your pet for serious side effects.

How do I store polysulfated glycosaminoglycan?

Store at room temperature between  68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C), with excursions permitted at 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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