Glucosamine for dogs has the same active ingredients as glucosamine for humans.
It is a molecule most commonly used by humans with arthritis and joint problems. It is also used as part of treating similar issues in dogs.
In this article we tell you everything you need to know about giving glucosamine to your dog. You’ll also learn about the best glucosamine for dogs and why human products may not be pooch friendly.
Products included in this article were carefully and independently selected by the Labrador Site team. If you decide to make a purchase from one of the links marked by an asterisk, we may earn a small commission on that sale. This is at no extra cost to you.
What is glucosamine for dogs?
The glucosamine sold in supplements is collected from an unusual source. It come from the shells of crustaceans.
The hard chitin that makes up these shells is rich in this amino-sugar, and manufacturing plants extract it for our use.
This useful molecule is actually present in all of our bodies, where it fulfills a key role.
Glucosamine helps your joints to build and maintain cartilage. This is the tough spongy layer that shields the bones in your dogs joints from each other.
What does glucosamine for dogs do?
Young healthy dogs produce enough glucosamine to keep their cartilage in top condition. They do this by continually producing this amino-sugar.
Unfortunately, older dogs can start to produce less and less glucosamine. This causes supplies to run dry. This is important when it comes to figuring out how much glucosamine for dogs is right.
When this happens, older dogs’ cartilage will gradually fall into disrepair. This causes a rather unpleasant condition called osteoarthritis.
As the cartilage degrades and isn’t replaced fast enough, dogs’ bones start to rub painfully at the joint. Generating pain in and of itself, along with inflammation.
If you’ve ever broken a bone and moved it, you’ve experienced a noticeably more extreme version of what this is like.
When bones rub against each other it really hurts. So, understandably researchers have been busy finding ways to reduce this pain.
Glucosamine is available in a number of supplements. But how does it work? What are the effects? And which one is the best glucosamine for dogs?
Glucosamine for dogs: quick links
Follow the links below to jump to more information about this common questions:
- Is glucosamine good for dogs?
- Is glucosamine safe for dogs?
- Using glucosamine to treat osteoarthritis?
- Using glucosamine to treat hip dysplasia?
- Glucosamine dogs treats
- Alternatives to glucosamine for dogs
Is glucosamine good for dogs
As we mentioned before, glucosamine is helpful for the construction and maintenance of cartilage.
If a dog with osteoarthritis doesn’t have enough glucosamine in his system, adding it to his diet can help boost his supply. This lessens the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
A dog that responds well to this supplement should have healthier cartilage. Which means less pain and more joint mobility.
If your dog doesn’t have osteoarthritis and you give her glucosamine, it may not have any effect.
There is a constant level of glucosamine in a healthy dogs blood. If their kidneys detect that there’s too much, it just gets flushed out in their urine.
It’s important to point out that glucosamine is almost always paired with another nutrient in supplements: chondroitin sulfate. You may see this labelled as glucosamine chondroitin for dogs.
Chondroitin sulfate is another helpful substance for osteoarthritic dogs. It works by combating enzymes that might otherwise damage the cartilage and fluid in the joints.
It does have to be said that glucosamine is under-regulated. As a nutritional supplement it does not have to abide by the same rules of consistency as medicine.
Is glucosamine safe for dogs
Glucosamine or glucosamine chondroitin for dogs is safe. But, it is important to stick to the correct dosage. Always consult with a vet before administering any supplement.
When supplementing, the glucosamine for dogs dosage will differ based on the size of your pooch.
Use the manufacturers guidelines for dogs of different weights.
Dog glucosamine side effects
Dog glucosamine side effects seem to be fairly mild. A slightly upset stomach is the usual worst case scenario.
With this being said, every dog is different.
If your dog starts acting differently or unwell, withdraw the glucosamine and speak to your vet.
Dog glucosamine allergy
One potential risk of glucosamine for dogs is that some dogs may be allergic to shellfish.
In that case, your dog may have an allergic reaction to glucosamine. Which is usually made from the shells of shellfish.
An allergic reaction to shellfish will look like excessive itching and cramps. In some cases, even vomiting and diarrhea. Please alter your vet if you notice these symptoms.
Often this won’t be a problem. But you may need to consult with your vet to determine any allergies your dogs might have.
Once you’ve done that you and your vet can make better informed decisions on that best supplement choices for your dog.
Dog glucosamine toxicity
Toxicity on dogs isn’t very well documented. But, in rats a lethal dose is considered 5g for every kg of weight.
This is hundreds of times the normal dose. So not a huge cause for concern.
Whether the produce you’ve purchased is glucosamine or glucosamine chondroitin for dogs, the risk of overdose will be very slim.
Using glucosamine for dogs safely
Even though glucosamine is safe for dogs, treat it like anything else that’s even potentially dangerous. Keep the bottle or packet out of reach of your dog.
If your dog is suffering from joint issues, it’s really important you take them to a vet. Get a diagnosis before you start treating.
The stiffness you interpret as osteoarthritis could be the start of a much more serious disease like tetanus.
Using glucosamine to treat osteoarthritis in dogs
Glucosamine can be an effective remedy for osteoarthritis.
Using glucosamine to treat dog hip dysplasia
There has been some indication that glucosamine might help with dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. However, no complete study into this has confirmed this to be true.
A study on the treatment of hip dysplasia said that the effectiveness of glucosamine in treating hip dysplasia is ‘not well established’.
In the absence of hard evidence we can’t really suggest it for this.
What is the best glucosamine for dogs?
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are what they are. These nutrients are the same regardless of brand.
Due to the low regulation we spoke about earlier, some brands may be more consistent in the amount they deliver.
There’s not a great way of figuring this out, though. This is because there is no FDA requirement for manufacturers to be that accurate.
There are lots of different ways of administering glucosamine through various products.
Dog food with glucosamine
Is glucosamine available in a dog food? Absolutely. There are some dog foods that include glucosamine on their ingredients list. Some foods that include shellfish may also include glucosamine too.
Here are some of the choices available:
- Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Large Breed Dry Dog Food*
- Newman’s Own 5 oz Snack Sticks for Dogs*
- WholeHearted Grain Free Large Breed Chicken and Pea Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food*
Glucosamine supplements for dogs
There are a ton of different forms you can buy glucosamine supplements for dogs in.
These bacon flavored chewable supplements* from K9 care labs look like a great option.
Flavored supplements are great to make your dog eagerly chomp down on the nutrients he needs.
This product from K9 care labs also contains vitamin C.
It’s important to point out that dogs make their own vitamin C. So, while this would help a vitamin deficient dog, there’s very little evidence it will be beneficial to an otherwise healthy pooch.
Next, let’s look at some more traditional tablet based options for glucosamine.
Glucosamine tablets for dogs
Sometime simple tablet based nutrients work best, and we can just wrap them in food our dogs like.
Nutramax Consequin DS chewables* are one such tablet.
At first you might be a little confused that glucosamine isn’t on the front of this products packaging. Don’t worry, Consequin is just a brand name for a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, just like the other options we’ve looked at!
This is a robust option for anyone looking to add glucosamine to their dogs diet, and the reviews speak for themselves.
Now let’s look at glucosamine powders for dogs.
Glucosamine powder for dogs
Is the best glucosamine for dogs one that comes in powder form? It depends a bit upon their diet.
If your dog eats wet food, you might prefer supplements in the form of a powder you can sprinkle over or mix in. By adding these products you can make your own dog food with glucosamine.
Particular paws’ glucosamine powder* looks like a great option.
This powder-form glucosamine formula could be the answer to your dog’s arthritis woes.
It has the same blend of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate as the rest of our examples. Each of which have shown real promise in treating osteoarthritis.
This formula also comes packed with other vitamins and minerals. Which can be helpful for an older dogs general health.
Liquid glucosamine for dogs
Up to this point, our experience with glucosamine may have been exclusively human.
We may be familiar with glucosamine in the form of liquid supplement.
Dogs have the same option, too! Liquid glucosamine*.
Like almost all glucosamine supplements, this is a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
We’ve already been over the benefits of these two ingredients, and how they could help with your dog’s osteoarthritis.
This liquid can be dosed out, using the labels instructions, and applied to your dogs dried food.
So, we’ve looked at some dog-specific glucosamine supplements. But what about human ones?
Human glucosamine for dogs
Even when the active ingredients are the same, giving human medicine or nutritional supplements to dogs is never a good idea.
This is because plenty of the additives we put in human supplements are harmless to us, but dangerous to dogs. One example is xylitol.
Xylitol is a popular sweetener, present in a huge variety of human medicine, supplements and food.
This additive is harmless to humans. In fact, there’s evidence it helps our dental health. Despite being so commonplace and edible for people, it is deadly poisonous to dogs.
When even a small amount of xylitol gets into a dogs body it interferes with the way they regulate sugar in their blood. This causes the dogs blood sugar to drop off very quickly, a condition known as hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemic dogs can suffer organ failure and die. This is because they don’t have enough sugar in their blood to keep even basic bodily functions active.
Other places your dog might come into contact with xylitol are chewing gum and some brands of peanut butter.
Unsafe for dog additives like this are a good enough reason to steer clear of giving our pooches human supplements. They’re meant for us — not them.
Glucosamine dog treats
Is the best glucosamine for dogs the type that they eat as a treat? Dogs love getting treats, so much so that we can use them to train them.
It’s always convenient when something they need can double as a treat. Fortunately there are products aimed to do just that.
It’s important to remember the even though these look like treats, we should take care to get the glucosamine for dogs dosage correct.
More than anything they’re more expensive than regular treats. Giving too much glucosamine is just wasteful and does nothing.
These glucosamine containing treats are usually in the form of bite sized soft chews that your dog will love munching on.
Glucosamine chews for dogs
Dogs love to work their jaws out a bit on something chewy.
The most popular soft glucosamine chews* are by the brand Doggie Dailies.
The two main active ingredients in these treats are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. We’ve already been through how helpful these two can be.
These chews also contain a bunch of other nutrients like omega fatty acids. These help the maintenance of dogs skin and the treatment of dermatitis.
Alternatives to glucosamine for dogs
If your dog is indeed allergic to shellfish you may need to consider alternative options. Here are some alternative treatments that have been scientifically tested.
- Vegetarian (Shellfish free) Glucosamine for Dogs
- Curcumin – Curcumin is the yellow colored pigment found in turmeric. When people use turmeric for medicinal properties, this is the active ingredient.
- CBD Oil – CBD oil is a non-psychoactive component of the marijuana plant. Lately it is used in many therapeutic settings for humans. Now it looks like dogs can benefit from it too.
Glucosamine for dogs
So, what is the best glucosamine for dogs?
Any of the glucosamine supplements we’ve listed have the potential to lessen the symptoms of your dog’s arthritis.
Sometimes, irresponsibly, companies will attempt to sell this product as a preventative measure against joint injuries.
Although this would be a great thing, there’s not a lot of evidence to support these claims.
It doesn’t seem like a regular supplement of glucosamine will do any harm to an otherwise healthy dog. That said, it’s not certain that it will do any good either.
Giving glucosamine to your dog
The most important thing to take away is to see a vet about any issues your dog is having with it’s joints. How much glucosamine for dogs is required will come down to the size of your dog. Again, your vet can help you with this.
They will be able to put together a treatment plan for you, and offer different useful medications.
Glucosamine has shown a lot of promise in remedying the cause of joint pain in arthritic dogs. But to alleviate pain short term you may need your vet to provide anti inflammatory drugs.
Always tell your vet if you plan to use glucosamine or any other complementary therapy. Interactions are not common, but always possible with anything we give our dogs.
Glucosamine can form a part of this treatment. However, if your dog is suffering from something other than osteoarthritis it may not help him at all.
Have you tried giving your dog glucosamine? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
We have extensively revised this article in 2019.
Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.
References and Further Reading
- Scintigraphic evaluation of dogs with acute synovitis after treatment with glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate, S. O. Canapp et al
- Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis, G. Mcmarthy et al
- The bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of glucosamine hydrochloride and low molecular weight chondroitin sulfate after single and multiple doses to beagle dogs A. Adebowale et al
- Textbook of natural medicine J. E. Pizzomo
- Treatment of canine hip dysplasia: A review A. M. Remedios
- Canine Osteoarthritis: Understanding the etiology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis S. C. Budsberg DVM, MS, DACVS
- The effect of vitamin C supplementation in healthy dogs on antioxidative capacity and immune parameters M. Hesta et al
- Cosequin DS chewable tablets – compendium of veterinary products
Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs, Gamble et al. 2018, Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Curcumin: a new paradigm and therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of osteoarthritis: curcumin for osteoarthritis management, Henrotin 2013.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website