Joint health is very important for all dogs, as it affects their mobility and Quality of Life.
Joints are made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, and all of these components must be in good shape for a dog to remain active and healthy.
All breeds of dogs are susceptible to joint problems–aching joints are often a part of getting older—for people and animals alike, but larger canine breeds are more prone to them.
Common joint problems in dogs include arthritis and joint injuries, while some dogs even inherit or acquire joint disorders, such as hip dysplasia, which may lead to arthritis at younger ages.
In order to maintain joint health in dogs, there are a few things that owners can do.
One of the most important is to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise. Regular exercise can help keep joints lubricated and strong, as well as decreasing the chances of joint injuries.
It’s also important to make sure that your dog’s diet is balanced and contains all the nutrients necessary for joint health. As we’ll see, supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, are very beneficial for your dog’s joint health.
Here’s what you need to know about glucosamine for dogs.
What Is Glucosamine?
In a nutshell, glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound made of glucose (a sugar) and glutamine (an amino acid) that plays a role in developing cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and is essential for maintaining healthy joint function.
As building block of the cartilage matrix, glucosamine helps protect and cushion the joints to avoid ‘bone-on-bone’ contact and stimulates the growth of cartilage cells.
Glucosamine has also been known to normalize the synovial fluid which lubricates joints.
But while glucosamine is produced naturally by your dog’s body, over time, their normal, natural production becomes inadequate at preventing joint damage and must be supplemented.
If you have a dog suffering from arthritis, joint supplements containing glucosamine (which is usually derived from certain shellfish such as shrimp, oysters, or crabs) help boost their reserve of this crucial nutrient.
Glucosamine is one of the more popular over-the-counter arthritis remedies. It is one of several natural substances, or nutraceuticals, that are known as chondroprotective agents, used in the treatment of arthritis in humans, dogs, horses, and other animals.
In dogs, glucosamine is commonly used to:
- Alleviate joint pain caused by structural changes (Hip Dysplasia),
- As adjunct medical care in the treatment of spinal disc injury,
- Provide cellular repair & support in recovery from joint surgery,
- As a means to keep high-performance dogs in peak condition.
Proven Benefits of Glucosamine – Does Glucosamine Actually Work?
Dog joint supplements containing glucosamine can have tremendous benefits for your dog’s joint health, so the proposed benefit is that supplementation with glucosamine will help prevent cartilage breakdown from wear and tear and injuries.
Fortunately, several studies have found that supplementing dogs with glucosamine helped to revitalize the state of their joints. In particular, a 2007 study looked at 16 clinical trials to conclude that ‘glucosamine supplements were as effective as several prescription drugs at bringing pain relief to canine patients‘.
Overall, research indicates that glucosamine is helpful for dogs by:
- Lubricating your dog’s joints for less painful movement,
- Reducing chronic joint inflammation (inflammation is the #1 enemy of healthy joints),
- Improving overall joint health for increased mobility.
How Does Glucosamine Improve Joint Function?
Here’s how glucosamine works: In both dogs and humans, our bone ends are covered by a thin layer of spongy cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber. In addition, around the bone and cartilage is a liquid called synovial fluid that serves as a lubricant, making joint movement easy and pain-free.
As arthritis sets in, the cartilage and synovial fluid break down due to the trauma or pressure, causing your dog’s stiff gait or discomfort when moving. Over time, the ‘bone-on-bone’ rubbing can cause bony outgrowths to develop on the bone ends, making movement even more difficult and painful for your beloved pet.
Here’s where glucosamine comes in. Glucosamine supplements help to stimulate cartilage growth and thicken synovial fluid, improving mechanical joint function and slowing the progression of arthritis – meaning less stiffness and discomfort for your dog.
What Else Is Glucosamine Used for in Dogs?
In addition to the recommendation of glucosamine for canine hip & joint problems, there are other possible uses for glucosamine in dogs.
Glucosamine is also a “building block” for other types of connective tissue that are found all over your dog’s body, including in the cells lining the bladder. Scientific studies suggest that glucosamine is absorbed from the digestive tract and naturally seeks out multiple sites of connective tissue as a destination.
So, theoretically, your vet might recommend glucosamine supplementation to support bladder health in addition to supporting joint health.
Glucosamine Side Effects for Dogs
The good news is that most dogs tolerate glucosamine well, including when it’s paired with chondroitin.
Glucosamine is often used in conjunction with another natural substance, chondroitin sulfate, which is also aimed at stimulating cartilage repair. Chondroitin is made from cow or pig cartilage and is also derived from the shells of crabs, oysters, and shrimp, or synthesized from plant sources in laboratories.
There have been very few side effects observed in canine patients taking glucosamine, but you should be aware of the risks.
Side Effects of Glucosamine in Dogs Includes:
– Allergies (specifically among those who are allergic to shellfish),
– Excessive thirst and urination (at high doses),
Advice for pet owners whose dog experiences temporary GI upset when beginning daily glucosamine is to reduce the amount until symptoms abate and your dog recovers. Resume daily supplementation at lower, weight appropriate amounts.
While glucosamine supplements are expected to be safe for dogs, one caveat warns that some joint supplements intended for pets contain manganese. This can be dangerous when ingested in large amounts, particularly by smaller dogs!
How is Glucosamine Regulated for Safety?
Glucosamine has been used in veterinary practices in Europe and the U.S. for about 20 years. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates these products as dietary supplements, not drugs, and as such, they are not subjected to the same stringent FDA review and approval process as pharmaceuticals. Dietary supplements are evaluated for safety after they are on the market, mostly through “adverse event monitoring.”
What is the Best Way to Give My Dog Glucosamine?
Before giving your dog glucosamine, you should consult with your veterinarian to identify your dog’s physical condition and determine the appropriate dosage.
Most available formulations of glucosamine for dogs are oral, such as flavored tablets, pills, powders, or liquids. Oral supplements are the most popular way that pet parents give glucosamine to dogs.
Oral supplements come in the form of soft chew dog treats, chewable tablets, liquids, or powder. What matters most here is what your dog prefers and will be willing to take regularly, as all oral forms of glucosamine are effective.
While glucosamine is available as an injectable supplement, it can be quite expensive and time-consuming.
Instead, glucosamine dog treat supplements are available in our K9 Medibles holistic pet supply store at affordable prices for pet parents. Click link image below for special pricing on dog treats with glucosamine.
Because of its popularity, some kibble brands have also been adding glucosamine to their ‘senior dog’ or joint support labeled foods, but unfortunately, the levels are typically too low to provide any beneficial effect; your dog would have to eat A LOT of kibbles to receive an effective dose.
Glucosamine Tips for Pet Owners
Glucosamine is not a “cure-all” or miracle drug–but it may help your dog!
But it’s important for pet parents to understand that glucosamine will not reverse joint damage. So, it is important to start glucosamine supplements early in your dog’s life–even BEFORE obvious signs of joint disease appear.
Glucosamine is more likely to be beneficial for preventing wear and tear on joints rather than repairing already damaged, worn joints.
The bottom line is, if you’re wanting to try a glucosamine supplement for your dog, it may be worth a try to relieve your dog’s arthritis pain and help boost their energy and mobility….and realistically give them a better Quality of Life.
Curtis has been passionate about the health and welfare of animals since his first dog rescue.
After studying Sports Medicine & Biology at the University of Oregon, Curtis went on to excel in a career of Clinical Nutrition, later owning a health care supplement company serving private-practice physicians.
Known for his expansive knowledge of natural health and alternative medicine, Curtis believes that natural plant-based therapies can be applied to veterinary animal care which led him to study the science of Cannabinoid Medicine. His expertise in Functional Medicine led him to formulate a unique hemp-based canine care product, Canine Support Formula, fulfilling a dream to combine natural pet-care strategies with the new therapeutic potential of medical cannabis.
In reverence for his own dog, Parker, Curtis has dedicated his company–K9 Medibles–to improving the health and longevity of all dogs.
To learn more about Curtis and how K9 Medibles can help your dog, click HERE.