Glucosamine for Dogs

Posted by Elizabeth Racine D.V.M. on

Glucosamine for Dogs

If your dog suffers from arthritis, your veterinarian may have recommended a product called glucosamine. Or perhaps you’ve taken glucosamine yourself and you’ve wondered if it could benefit your canine companion, too. 

Glucosamine helps dogs with arthritis by reducing inflammation, improving joint lubrication, and facilitating cartilage repair. Glucosamine also has a protective effect on chondrocytes – the cells that make up cartilage, which cushion your bones. 

Read on to learn more about the benefits of glucosamine for your dog and how pet parents can give this supplement to your dog should you choose to use it.

What is Glucosamine?

Cartilage is a connective tissue that cushions the joints in your body. It can break down or suffer with normal wear and tear.

Glucosamine is a compound that is found naturally in healthy cartilage. Glucosamine supports healthy cartilage by functioning in the maintenance and repair of cartilage, and it also plays a role in the synthesis of new cartilage.  

In conditions such as arthritis, cartilage gradually degenerates, leading to pain and inflammation. Supplementing glucosamine helps support cartilage repair, reduces inflammation, and provides protection for cartilage cells called chondrocytes. 

Glucosamine is often supplemented in combination with chondroitin sulfate, another natural compound found in cartilage. Glucosamine supplements may include other ingredients to support joint cartilage health as well, such as green lipped mussel, MSM, egg shell membrane, boswellia, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Glucosamine Benefits for Dogs

dog running on the beach

Glucosamine is used as a joint supplement in dogs for several conditions affecting cartilage and joint pain and health. 

Glucosamine may also be recommended as a preventive measure for conditions which may result in arthritis.  Your veterinarian may recommend glucosamine supplements for your dog for a number of conditions.

Conditions that may warrant glucosamine supplements include:

  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Conformational abnormalities

Glucosamine for Dogs Side Effects

Glucosamine is generally safe for most dogs when dosed appropriately. Most dogs tolerate glucosamine well without any side effects. 

When side effects do occur, they may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased drinking and increased urination at high doses

Many glucosamine products for dogs are flavored and are available in the form of treats or chews, which can make them exceptionally tempting for your dog. 

Unfortunately, this also increases the risk of overdosage because your dog may try to ingest many treats at once if left unattended. Always keep glucosamine out of your dog’s reach and do not exceed the recommended daily dose. 

If your dog ingests more than the recommended daily dose, contact your veterinarian for advice.

How Much Glucosamine for Dogs?

dogs running in the forest

There are hundreds of glucosamine products for dogs available on the market. Glucosamine products are not FDA approved and are not regulated. Formulations, concentrations, and dosing regimens vary widely between products.

Glucosamine is generally dosed based on your dog’s current weight and typically starts with a higher loading dose for several weeks, then the dose is decreased to a lower maintenance dose. However, this can vary depending on the product and its concentration of glucosamine. 

In general, it is best to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for dosing glucosamine for your dog. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate glucosamine product for your dog, and will advise you on how best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosing the product.

Glucosamine for Dogs Dosage

In addition to the hundreds of glucosamine products available for dogs, there are also hundreds of glucosamine products available over the counter for humans! 

Glucosamine is the same whether it is marketed for humans or for dogs so, theoretically, you could use a human glucosamine supplement for your pet.  However, veterinary glucosamine products often contain additional supplements like green lipped mussel and MSM, which provide additional benefits for your dog’s joints. 

Veterinary products are typically flavored and come in the form of treats, which make it easier to get your dog to take the supplement. If you do decide to use a human product for your dog, be sure to discuss the proper dosage with your veterinarian first.

Where to Buy Glucosamine for Dogs

The best place to buy glucosamine for dogs is through your veterinarian. 

Your veterinarian undoubtedly has a glucosamine product that he or she recommends and has seen good results with. Your vet can prescribe a product that will be safe and effective for your dog and that has proven results.  Alternatively, there are hundreds of glucosamine products available over the counter through pet stores and online.  

These products are not regulated and may vary in their dosing regimens and efficacy. If you choose to use one of these products, follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions on the product label to ensure your dog receives the correct dose of product.

How to Administer Glucosamine to a Dog

Vet, dog owner, and bulldog at the clinic

Glucosamine is available over the counter in a variety of formulations.

Most veterinary glucosamine products for dogs come in the form of a flavored treat or chew that you can easily administer to your dog by mouth. These products are highly palatable and your dog will likely enjoy eating them!

If you are using a human glucosamine product such as a capsule or tablet, or if your dog does not like the taste of the veterinary product, try hiding the glucosamine in something extra tasty like a bit of cheese or peanut butter.

To trick your dog into taking the hidden glucosamine, first offer a treat without the glucosamine, then immediately offer the treat with the glucosamine hidden inside, then immediately follow it up with another treat without glucosamine in it.

If you do this quickly, your pup will be so busy taking these tasty snacks, he won’t even notice he swallowed a dose of glucosamine at the same time!

Alternatively, there are also prescription veterinary diets that are supplemented with glucosamine for joint health. These diets are intended for patients with joint disease and are generally prescribed by your veterinarian if your dog has arthritis.  Your dog may be a good candidate for one of these diets if he is generally healthy and does not have any other conditions requiring nutritional management.

Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate joint supplement or joint health diet depending on your dog’s individual needs.

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Author

Elizabeth Racine D.V.M. is a small animal veterinarian with a passion for improving the lives of pets. She has worked in the veterinary field in various roles for more than a decade, with professional interests in behavior, nutrition, and palliative care. As a writer, her work has been featured by several world-renowned pet health and wellness brands. Dr. Racine shares her home with her dog Dasher - a beagle with his own storied career training new veterinary students - and her trouble-making orange cat named Julius.