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Home > Dogs > Glucosamine For Dogs: The Benefits & Uses (Vet Answer)

Glucosamine For Dogs: The Benefits & Uses (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Kim Podlecki

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s not uncommon nowadays to be bombarded with online ads for all types of supplements for your dog. One of the most common ones you may see is glucosamine for dogs. But are there benefits to giving your dog glucosamine? What is the best way to administer it? Is glucosamine worth all the hype? Keep reading to find out more about glucosamine for dogs.

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What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body as a component of cartilage. Cartilage is the shock absorber of the body. Cartilage is found in different forms at the ends of bones, within joints, and connecting joints to help with movement and shock absorption of those areas.

Cartilage also helps with mobility by assisting in joint lubrication so that the bones do not rub painfully against one another. Glucosamine is just a small piece of the puzzle and one component of what helps to make up cartilage. Glucosamine can commonly be found in three different forms: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. Glucosamine sulfate is the most common form used in supplementation. You should make sure that you are not giving your dog anything your doctor may have prescribed for you, as it could be a different form of glucosamine and potentially toxic for your dog.

glucosamine powder and capsules
Image By: ElenVik, Shutterstock

What is Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

Chondroitin is another component of cartilage. It can also be found as chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined in a single supplement. They are just two of the components of cartilage. By giving them, hope is that they may help repair damaged cartilage or even help with the production of new, healthier cartilage.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are most often found in treats, pills, or capsules labeled as “joint supplements” for your dog. Some foods even have glucosamine and chondroitin in their ingredients list.

Keep in mind that most joint supplements are considered a nutraceutical.  In the United States, nutraceuticals are widely unregulated and/or monitored by the FDA. Extreme caution should be used when ordering or giving any type of glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to your dog.

What Are The Benefits of Glucosamine?

Your dog may suffer injury to areas where cartilage is found. This is especially common with the knee joints (stifles) in dogs, especially in large breeds. Common injuries include meniscus injuries, cruciate ligament tears, and general soft tissue injuries. Likewise, dogs can often develop arthritis in any of their joints, very commonly the knees and hips.

The potential benefit of supplementing glucosamine to your dog is that it may help to both heal injured cartilage and also help grow new healthier cartilage. Over time, this may help your dog walk with less limping, and most importantly, to be more comfortable overall.

dog injury
Image By: Blanscape, Shutterstock

Will Glucosamine Hurt My Dog?

There is always the possibility of toxicity, as with almost anything. If your dog gets onto the counter or into the cabinet where the glucosamine treats are found, they may eat the entire bag. Toxicity can absolutely occur in cases of acute, high-dose ingestion. The ASPCA Poison Control Center has the most up-to-date data on the toxic ingestion of glucosamine in dogs, how much they ate, and what problems they developed.

Unfortunately, because nutraceuticals and supplements are widely unregulated by the FDA, there is no way to know if you are giving your dog a glucosamine supplement that is harmful or not. In other words, there may be other ingredients in the supplement that may be harmful to your dog. Or, the levels of glucosamine and/or chondroitin in the supplement may either be a toxic level for your dog or conversely, such a low level that it won’t even help.

In general, glucosamine supplementation is considered benign, or safe. However, always take caution when giving your dog any type of supplement. Be aware of where you store the supplement so that your dog does not get into the supply and accidentally cause toxicity to themselves. There are some well-known, trusted veterinary glucosamine supplements out there that your veterinarian may carry in their office.

veterinarian checking up of an australian shepherd dog at clinic
Image By: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

What Type of Dog Should Use Glucosamine?

Any dog who has suffered any type of injury may benefit from glucosamine supplementation. Dogs who have suffered a cruciate tear, or who were born with hip dysplasia, may find some relief from getting glucosamine.

As dogs get older, just like us, they may develop and suffer from arthritis. How affected your dog is depends on their body size, breed, underlying issues, and activity level. Your older dog may benefit from just being on a senior formula food with glucosamine added. If your dog is very arthritic, painful, and/or having mobility issues, adding glucosamine to a veterinary-recommended pain medication regimen may give them some relief.

volunteer holding a senior dog's head
Image By: Serhii Ivashchuk, Shutterstock

Where Can I Buy Glucosamine for My Dog?

Your best bet is to ask your veterinarian what brand of glucosamine supplementation they recommend. There are so many products available in pet stores and online that your head will spin. Many of these products have never been tested and may contain potentially toxic ingredients. Other times, they may not even have helpful amounts of glucosamine in them. Your veterinarian can best direct you which products are safe, and trusted, and that they may even give to their own dogs.

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Glucosamine is a natural component of cartilage within the body. Cartilage helps to cushion joints, and aid in shock absorption and joint movement. Giving glucosamine as a supplement to your older arthritic dog, or a dog that has suffered a joint injury, may aid in their comfort.

While there are no clear studies stating the efficacy of glucosamine, many anecdotal reports claim improved mobility and movement. The thought is that glucosamine can both aid in the repair of injured cartilage and stimulate the growth of new cartilage. Always use caution when purchasing any type of glucosamine supplementation for your dog, and speak to your veterinarian about what they recommend.


Featured Image Credit: ElenVik, Shutterstock

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