Glucosamine for dogs – does it really help?


Glucosamine is best known for treating arthritis. But glucosamine for dogs can provide joint support and pain relief for other joint conditions like hip dysplasia.

Providing your dog with Glucosamine can help increase mobility, reduce stiffness, and ease the pain. In fact, it can go a long way to support our dog’s natural ability to repair joints and slow the aging process.

But what do you need to know before you give your dog glucosamine supplements?

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in a dog’s body. Made up of glutamine, an amino acid, and glucose, a sugar, it’s essential for building cartilage.

Cartilage is found in many areas of the body. It’s the tough but flexible connective tissue that plays a vital role in the body’s structure. In fact, cartilage provides padding between the long bones of the body and the joints;

  • Between the vertebrae
  • Ends of the ribs
  • Elbows, knees, and ankles

The production of glucosamine naturally slows down as our dogs get older. Cartilage becomes less flexible and starts to wear away, leading to osteoarthritis. Once the cartilage thins to such an extent that the bones rub against each other, the joints become extremely painful.

The Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs

Glucosamine supplement’s primary benefit is to help with the symptoms of joint damage. Because cartilage absorbs shock, enabling your dog to move without pain, the cartilage’s health directly impacts your dog’s mobility.

Not only does glucosamine contribute to the repair of cartilage, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease joint pain.

  • Anti-inflammatory leading to pain reduction
  • It helps restore and maintain cartilage.
  • Lubricates joints

While it’s best known as a joint supplement, glucosamine also has a beneficial effect on gut health by reducing inflammation in the digestive tract.

Can I Give My Dog Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is readily available in supplement form, and many commercial dog food manufacturers include it in their formulas. But how do you know if you need to supplement your dog?

While it’s common for elderly dogs to experience stiffness in their joints, young dogs can suffer problems too. Both hip and elbow dysplasia are common joint conditions that affect dogs no matter their age.

If you’ve noticed any changes in your dog’s mobility or flexibility, you must get a diagnosis from a vet before giving your dog joint supplements.  There are other, more severe conditions with similar symptoms that need to be ruled out.

However, if your Vet confirms that your dog has joint issues, including arthritis, then supplementing glucosamine is helpful. It will help improve your dog’s mobility by building and maintaining healthy cartilage.

Glucosamine for Dogs is it safe?

Although considered safe, glucosamine is often derived from shellfish, most often green-lipped muscles. As shellfish is a common allergen, be cautious when offering it to your dog for the first time and monitor the effects. If your dog is allergic, there are shellfish-free sources available.

Also, as glucosamine is a sugar-based substance, there is some evidence that it adversely interacts with certain anti-diabetic medications. What’s more, it may increase the time it takes for blood to clot, so it should not be given to dogs with blood clotting issues.

So, always seek medical advice before giving supplements to your dog. Otherwise, side-effects are usually infrequent and mild but include;

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive thirst

A healthy dog has a stable level of Glucosamine in its blood. Any excess detected by the kidneys will be flushed out.

Glucosamine sulfate supplements

Although Glucosamine can be found naturally in certain foods, raw bones or bone broth, for example, the most popular way to give it to your dog is through supplements.

Glucosamine supplements are available as liquid, pill, powder, treats, chews, and flavored tablets and generally contain one of three different forms of Glucosamine;

  • Glucosamine Sulphate
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride
  • NAG – N-Acetyl-Glucosamine

Glucosamine Sulphate

This is the most common form found in supplements. Containing sulfur which helps to build and repair cartilage, it’s produced in one of two ways.

The first is that it’s naturally extracted from the shells of shellfish, and the second is that it’s produced synthetically in a laboratory.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCL)

This form is also from shellfish. While it’s often more concentrated than Glucosamine Sulphate, it doesn’t contain Sulphur.

NAG – N-Acetyl-Glucosamine

NAG is a chemically created derivative of glucose. Combining glucosamine and acetic acid, NAG increases the production of hyaluronan, helping to lubricate the joints.

Often Glucosamine supplements contain a combination of complementary ingredients to help support joint health. Two of the most common are;

Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine chondroitin is often found together in joint supplements. It’s another natural substance, which helps to retain water and stimulates cartilage repair. Chondroitin sulfate is sourced from cow or pig cartilage but can also be found in the shells of oysters, crabs, and shrimps.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM reduces inflammation and pain, improves flexibility, and is an organic sulfur compound found in vegetables, fruits, and grains and naturally in our dog’s bodies.

Glucosamine in Food

While supplements are simple to use with a known dosage, food is also a good Glucosamine source.

Providing your dog with a Glucosamine-rich diet keeps their joints healthy as they age. Foods high in cartilage, such as beef knuckles bones, bone broth, trachea, green-lipped mussel, and chicken feet, are rich in Glucosamine. Of course, if giving your dog raw food leaves you a little on the queasy side, supplements offer a convenient way of enhancing your dog’s intake.


Choosing a Supplement

Always choose a supplement that’s appropriate for your dog. Human pills often contain ingredients unsuitable for our dogs.

You mustn’t try to treat your dog yourself but get advice from your veterinarian, who can confirm the appropriate dosage and rule out an underlying health condition. However, one 500mg tablet per 25 pounds of body weight is suitable as a guideline.

Initial treatment may be weighted so that your dog gets higher doses for a week or two before moving onto a reduced maintenance dose. It can take a couple of weeks to notice improvements and several months before your dog receives maximum benefits.

Glucosamine for Dogs

While it’s impossible to hold back the passage of time, we can do a lot to keep our dogs in good health for as long as possible.

Glucosamine for dogs helps support and maintain an aging dog’s joint health, increasing their flexibility and comfort into their golden years while reducing joint pain.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.