Glucosamine & Chondroitin For Dogs: How Do They Work?

As dogs age, arthritis can increasingly become more of an issue. Arthritis occurs when cartilage (which serves as the cushioning between bones), begins to wear away. As cartilage between bones thins out, the bones rub against each other.

Dogs are extremely active animals, and years of leaping on hind legs to catch frisbees and chasing after squirrels can result in some pretty extreme arthritis and joint issues by the time canines hit their golden years.

There is no cure for canine arthritis, just as there isn’t a cure for human arthritis. However, certain treatments can reduce arthritic pain and help your pet move more fluidly.

What is Glucosamine & How Can It Help My Dog?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in living animals, with its highest concentration found in animal cartilage. 

Healthy animals can synthesize enough glucosamine naturally to keep their cartilage healthy, but as animals age, damaged cartilage is unable to keep up with the canine’s body. Glucosamine supplements can aid in this, helping your dog’s body build new cartilage.glucosamine chondroitin for dogs

Many canine joint and arthritic supplements include both glucosamine and chondroitin.

Chondroitin is another naturally occurring element found in animal cartilage. While Glucosamine is responsible mainly for helping to build new cartilage, Chondroitin blocks destructive enzymes that break down cartilage in your dog’s joints. Chondroitin holds back the enemies while Glucosamine does the repairs!

While dogs can experience all different kinds of joint pain and arthritis pain, the most common problem is with hip joints.

Hip Dysplasia is especially common in large breeds of dogs, such as Great Danes and Labradors, but dogs of all breeds and sizes can be susceptible.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are very popular methods for treating arthritis and other joint issues (including hip dysplasia) – most dog joint supplements include both these.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin can be purchased over-the-counter, making them very convienent to obtain for owners. They are natural substances, so side effects are uncommon and generally quite mild.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help with:

  • Repairing damaged cartilage
  • Alleviating joint paint & heal joint disease
  • Easing recovery from joint surgery
  • Aiding in spinal disk treatment
  • Treating hip dysplasia and potentially avoid surgery
  • Healing skin wounds
  • Helping with stomach ailments

Signs Your Dog May Be Suffering From Joint Pain

Many owners may see their senior dog slowing down and assume it’s simply a cause of old age. However, most older dogs do suffer from some joint pain that can potentially be lessened. You may be surprised to see much of your dog’s previous activity level come back as a result of glucosamine treatment or other canine joint supplements.

Some signs that your dog is suffering from arthritis and might benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin supplements include:

  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Trouble getting in and out of vehicles
  • Limping and/or stiffness (especially in the morning and during cold weather)

Does Glucosamine Work For Curing Dog Arthritis?

Unfortunately, the jury is out on this one.

Some studies have shown Glucosamine does help, while others claim the drug is largely ineffective.

Other studies report that one form of glucosamine – specifically, glucosamine sulfate – did offer substantial pain relief on par with other drugs, while it’s counterpart – glucosamine hydrochloride – was ineffective.

When it comes to studies specifically for glucosamine’s effect on dogs, there is even less to go on. However, one study in 2007 by the College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Georgia found that glucosamine offered a “moderate level” of comfort that matched some prescription drugs.

glucosamine for dogs

The good news is that, while definite answers regarding the benefits of glucosamine are still hazy, glucosamine rarely has any side effects (and when it does, the side effects are very minor), making it a very safe option for managing dog arthritis pain.

As noted, side effects are uncommon. When they do happen, they can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive thirst and urination (at high doses)
  • Allergies (specifically for canines allergic to shellfish)

It’s also worth noting that, since glucosamine is a sugar-based substance, it may prove problematic for dogs with diabetes.

In this video, veterinarian Dr. Bob Pane talks about the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin, and why it’s important to use quality supplements.

Issues With Glucosamine & Research

You may be wondering – why isn’t there more data available about the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin if they can potentially be so beneficial?glucosamine research

The main reason why there is so little data about the effectiveness of these substances is because glucosamine and chondroitin can’t be patented. This means large pharmaceutical companies can’t make much money off of them, so they don’t bother spending money researching and developing these supplements.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are also classified as nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals are naturally occurring substances that are present in many food products – in fact, nutraceuticals fall into the same class at vitamins.

Nutraceuticals aren’t controlled by the FDA, and therefore have little independent research backing them.

Where to Get Glucosamine For Dogs

Glucosamine for dogs can be found in many canine supplements available on the market. These dog glucosamine supplements come in a variety of forms, including:dog glucosamine medicine

  • Liquid
  • Pills
  • Powdered
  • Tablets

Glucosamine designed for dogs will often contain ascorbic acid or manganese to help in the uptake of glucosamine in the canine body. Products designed specifically for dogs will also often be flavored, or coupled with other minerals.

Make sure to compare ingredients across products, as pricing isn’t always reflective of quality.

While supplements designed for dogs offer many advantages, it’s also worth noting that in many cases, human grade glucosamine can be a higher quality (and also will come in a purer form, so if you do choose to give your dog human glucosamine, make sure to pay careful attention to dosages, as dogs will require a lesser dose).

How Long Before I’ll Know If The Glucosamine Is Helping?

Generally, owners shouldn’t expect to see changes in their pet for at least a few weeks, and veterinarians recommend putting your pet on glucosamine for at least three months before evaluating the treatment.

With any luck, after taking glucosamine for a month or so, you’ll begin to see a change in your pet.

During treatment, your dog will need to take glucosamine every day – even multiple times a day depending on your dog’s size and the dosage form.

If you see that the glucosamine is helping your dog, he’ll need to take it the rest of his life to continue to stay comfortable – the supplement will only work if it’s continually given to your dog. Cartilage degeneration will begin to reoccur 4-6 months after you take your pet off glucosamine.

How Much Glucosamine and Chondroitin Can You Give A Dog?

We recommend giving your dog Glucosamine and Chondroitin together, as the two elements work most effectively as a pair,

Consult your vet for exact dosage instructions, but generally, vets recommend around 500 mg of Glucosamine and 400 mg of Chondroitin per 25 pounds.

For oral Glucosamine supplements, here’s the daily dosage that one veterinarian recommends:

Dog WeightGlucosamine Dosage
5-20 lbs250-500 mg
20-45 lbs500 mg
45-90 lbs1,000 mg
90 lbs +1,500 mg

Here are the same recommendations for your dog’s daily dosage of Chondroitin:

Dog WeightChondroitin Dosage
less than 80 lbs900 mg
over 80 lbs1,800 mg

What Are The Best Glucosamine Supplements For Dogs?

There are tons of glucosamine supplements for dogs available online and in stores. A few popular choices include:

1. Dasuquin Chewable Tablets for Dogsdasuquin-for-dogs

About: Dasuquin from Nutramax is made with glucosamine, chondroitin, as well as MSM – a natural organic compound that also assists in gut and joint health.

Dasuquin also contains avocado and soybean unsaponifiables (aka ASU), which further prevents cartilage erosion. Dasuquin was formulated from over +10 years of research and clinical tests – see where to get Dasequin.

Price: $$$
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2. Cosequin Chewable Dog Tabletscosequin for dogs

About: Cosequin is another supplement from Nutramax, also made with glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM – see where to get Cosequin online.

Price: $$
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3. Flexpet

flexpet glucosamineAbout: Flexpet is another glucosamine dog joint supplement that contains a mix of elements that work together to improve your dog’s mobility and promote joint health.

It comes in a chewable form and has received high praise for its effectiveness – See where to get Flexpet.

Price: $$
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Have you used glucosamine supplements to ease your dog’s arthritic pain? What were the results? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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