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  • Edele Grey, DVM
  • Certified content. This article has been fact-checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.

    Approved By: Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Glucosamine: Supplement to Ease Joint Pain in Dogs

The Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs

Supplements are generally of most benefit before any signs of disease are seen, and a typical characteristic of pets is to hide their pain from their owners, I know, it melts my heart too. For this reason, you might not notice your dear pup is suffering until the problem is quite severe, so the best way to care for your pup’s health is through prevention.

Another benefit of glucosamine is that it may reduce your pup’s vet bill as it is cheaper than some medications and since it’s a compound naturally found inside the body, there are often less unpleasant side effects. Most side effects if they do occur are mild and transient.

Glucosamine is a dietary supplement with anti-inflammatory effects to help reduce joint pain and is used as a preventative measure against some degenerative diseases. You should always consult your vet first if you suspect your pet may be developing signs of joint disease or bone issues and together decide what dosage of glucosamine your dog should receive. Glucosamine helps to restore joint health naturally, thus increasing your dog’s mobility.

When Should My Dog Start Taking Glucosamine?

The best time to start is when your dog stops growing which is approximately at 10-months for small breeds and 12-18 months for larger breeds though some giant breeds may keep growing up to 2-years of age so you should consult with your vet to decide when is the right time for your pet.

If your pup has passed the growing up stage, don’t fret, it’s better later than never! Glucosamine supplements can be taken later in life with positive effects.

Arthritis Signs in Dogs

Arthritis is a common ailment in pets, as with ourselves with one-in-five pups suffering from this painful disease. Since our pets hide their suffering, we must monitor their physical health closely as early signs of arthritis are usually subtle at first and may be attributed to your pet aging. Some of the most common symptoms are

– Changes in behavior such as depression, aggression or protectiveness of an area on their body or becoming nervous or anxious

– Reluctance to take part in physical activity or jumping; your pet seeming to be lethargic or lazier than normal

– Difficulty rising from a resting position or apparent stiffness after periods of rest such as in the mornings

– Slowed gait and sometimes limping when walking

– Weight and appetite fluctuations

– Licking particular joints or areas in pain

– Wincing or vocalizing when touched in certain places

– Swelling of a joint, or a limb that is warm or tender to the touch

– Muscle atrophy due to your pet trying to reduce the weight-bearing on a painful leg

– Accidents inside (usually urination)

Quietly watch the way your pet moves, if they look a little stiff, are trying to stay off a specific limb, or if they are showing other signs of discomfort, then arthritis may be playing a role so you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the next step in your pet’s health plan.

Best Way to Treat Arthritis in Dogs

Joints are essential to movement, so treating arthritis may require a full 360-degree lifestyle change. Ensure your pet is eating a well-balanced diet appropriate for their life-stage and check with your local veterinary practice about weigh-in clinics to ensure your dog is a healthy weight. Similar to ourselves, obesity in pets puts increased strain on their joints, which will reduce your pet’s quality of life.

Some large breed dog food automatically contains glucosamine and chondroitin since joint issues such as elbow and hip dysplasia are common diseases in these breeds. Senior dog foods may also include these supplements to support aging pup’s joints and bones.

If your pet is suffering from painful joint issues, it’s imperative to prevent aggravation of their situation so be prepared to provide lots of rest, love, and care while healing. When healing, slowly increase the exercise load, scaling back if your pet has any setbacks and stick to an exercise regimen recommended by your trusted vet.

Avoid over-doing physical exercise, which put’s even more strain on the already damaged joints in affected pets, and plenty of rest is recommended when pets are suffering from acute bouts of pain. This rest will, of course, be coupled with lots of supportive hugs and kisses!

Not to labor the point, but you should consult your vet first and foremost before taking any action. Once your pet is diagnosed with arthritis, your vet will most likely prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or in some severe cases may use steroids, including cortisone injections to reduce swelling and pain.

Your vet may also suggest some supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. However, these supplements take time to work, and so prescribed medication is needed in the acute phase to help control your pet’s pain.

In the long-term, physiotherapy can help reduce scar tissue, improve mobility, and to help with the pain. A lot of these facts sound similar to what humans go through when they have arthritis. It’s very similar for our pets so we can relate to the pain. Some other adjunctive treatments your vet might include are; acupuncture, ultrasound and laser therapy or stem-cell therapy. All of this can sound scary, but this is usually in more severe cases where your vet wants to provide stronger pain relief and support for your pup.

Natural remedies may be one of the best ways to prevent and control the progression of arthritis or other joint diseases. Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E can assist in decreasing and prevention of inflammation and aiding your pet’s body to repair itself and strengthen their joints.

Chondroitin sulfate with glucosamine sulfate has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic (reduce the breakdown of joint cartilage) effects in rats and humans. These are safe supplements. However, to date, there is limited scientific evidence on their benefit in dogs. The anecdotal evidence is abundant, which is why your vet may recommend including these in your pet’s diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory substances that can help with regulating the production and destruction of cartilage cells helping to reduce their degradation. Not only this, they do wonders for your fur-baby’s skin and coat condition!

Selenium and Vitamin E are antioxidants that help with premature aging, cancer, and other inflammatory diseases through preventing oxidation processes in the body, which can cause nasty effects.

Manganese is a mineral supplement that helps bone growth and strength; thus helping maintain the quality of bone and cartilage in your pet’s body.

 

What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin and How Do They Help My Dog?

Glucosamine is a natural substance found in a healthy dog’s cartilage. This substance helps form and repair body tissues, including cartilage, which is an integral part of joint anatomy. As part of the natural aging process, glucosamine levels decrease in older pets, which can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and eventually arthritis.

Arthritis is joint inflammation, and this occurs when there is ongoing wear and tear happening within joints and cartilage, which has a limited and slow ability to repair itself.

Some studies have shown that glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can help the rebuilding process in cartilage. These are encouraging results, and these supplements may help reduce pain and restore your pet’s mobility.

Glucosamine sulfate is often used as a supplement to help ease joint pain, not only in humans but for pets as well. All dogs are susceptible to joint and bone issues, but larger breeds are the unlucky ones who are more prone to these health problems. As a dog gradually ages, their joints can develop arthritis and inflammation. This is as well as some degenerative problems they may be born with such as hip and elbow dysplasia. One way we, as owners can help to ease the pain and try to minimize the amount of medication required, is with supplements.

Glucosamine sulfate in supplements is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring compound found in connective tissue and the fluids that lubricate joints. This provides benefits from pain relief, reducing bone loss, and helping to rebuild cartilage and improve joint function, thus reducing the visible pain of arthritis. When these issues are addressed, you may notice your dog is more lively and full of energy, thus improving their quality of life.

What is chondroitin, you ask? It’s another supplement that helps support joint issues and can be found in some dog foods. When paired with glucosamine, this gives an added healing effect that is even more beneficial to your dog’s joints and may better relieve pain in afflicted pets.

What about MSM, you wonder? This is methylsulfonylmethane, which is a bit of a mouthful and a source of sulfur. Sulfur is essential in the production of collagen. Collagen is a connective tissue that helps in support of joints, tendons, and ligaments. All of which play an important role in your pet’s mobility. MSM also has anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce muscle spasms, pain, and stiffness in pets suffering from arthritis.

If your pup starts taking supplements early in life, it may prevent some of these future afflictions. Physical health is directly linked to mental health. This holds true for us humans, and for dogs as well. If your pup isn’t able to roam freely, run and jump the way a healthy, carefree dog would, it will take a toll on their mental health. This is a vicious cycle that may aggravate other existing health issues or anxious behaviors.

Glucosamine sulfate, along with other supplements, can be used to fight against these health issues and try to nip them in the bud.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate effects! It can take over 3 weeks to see the benefits of these supplements, and because of the low risk of side effects, your pet can stay on joint supplements throughout life.

When you see the glimmer of mischief returning to your fur baby’s eyes and their playfulness is returning, you’ll know it’s working. With this knowledge, you can be assured your pet will be more willing to take part in physical activities while also gaining the benefits of enhanced cardiovascular health. If you choose to stop giving your pet the supplements, the signs of pain may return rapidly within weeks.

If glucosamine and chondroitin are administered early on for preventative measures, the more likely you may be able to avoid expensive vet and medication bills in the future. However, it is worth noting that while these food supplements can be a great way to help combat arthritis and give relief to your dog, they are not cures and will not be able to render your pet
arthritis-free.

What is the Proper Glucosamine Dosage for Dogs?

When the initial dose of glucosamine is administered, a loading period is required, thus at the start of treatment, the dosage is higher until clinical signs have improved. This ‘loading phase’ is usually about a month, after which the dose may be decreased to a lower amount which can remain at this level throughout the rest of your pet’s life. This is the ‘maintenance phase’ and the generally recommended amount of glucosamine is 20-25mg/lb body weight daily.

You should always consult your vet on the right amount for your specific fur baby and their health situation. The dose varies on breed, size of pet, and severity of the condition your pet is suffering from.

Glucosamine Side Effects to Watch for in Dogs

As noted earlier in the article, glucosamine has hardly any side effects, but some may be unavoidable, and the signs to look out for are noted below. These side effects are usually reduced or eliminated once the ‘maintenance phase’ begins, and the dose reduced.

The most common side effects are gastrointestinal such as vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation and can be minimized or eliminated if you give your pup their glucosamine supplement with food. These symptoms usually reduce over time as with most dietary-induced upset tummies.

Another relatively common side effect of glucosamine supplementation can be allergic reactions, which are for the most part due to an allergy to shellfish, which is often a component in glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Signs of this reaction are similar to those in humans. Symptoms include hives on the skin, swelling of the face and mouth, itching or even anaphylactic shock.

Anaphylactic shock is VERY rare but if you suspect your pet has an anaphylactic reaction, call your vet immediately for advice while you travel to the nearest veterinary clinic with your pet as this is a severe allergic reaction. Signs of anaphylactic shock include sudden facial swelling and breathing difficulties or choking in your pet. These may also be accompanied by the sudden appearance of hives or a rash on your pet who may be very depressed or distressed. If your pet is allergic to shellfish, there are glucosamine supplements that are produced from corn or other plants which may be a better option for these pets.

Less common side effects:

Fatigue – Your pet may be more tired and lethargic than usual
Insomnia – A pet that is unable to sleep as well as before starting the supplement may be due to glucosamine
Dehydration – Higher doses of glucosamine can cause an increase in thirst and thus urination which may lead to your pet having accidents in the house and needing more water than before, particularly in warm weather

Glucosamine and diabetes – Glucosamine is sugar-based, so if your pup is diabetic, you should consult your veterinarian as this may interfere with sugar levels and how much insulin your pet requires. You and your vet may then be able to decide on suitable dog food for diabetes.

The Best Glucosamine for Dogs

Here is where we get to our top ten choices, remember they’re not in any particular order! There are an almost unlimited amount of supplement products available, some with absolutely no benefits at all.

It’s essential to look out for the right ingredients and read the label carefully to distinguish what’s right for your pet and which may have serious drawbacks, especially if your pet has an allergy.

Some studies have shown that products with chitosan may increase the absorption and bioavailability of glucosamine for pets, but as it’s produced from crab shells, this may not be the right choice for allergic pets.

Some other recent studies have shown that liquid formulations have better bioavailability of glucosamine than a tablet or chew formulations but lasts less time within the blood, which may affect its efficacy.

1. Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus with MSM Chewables

Nutramax Cosequin DS is a veterinary recommended joint health supplement with an initial loading period of 4-6 weeks. Some dogs, however, may respond sooner than that. Cosequin, another name for glucosamine is coupled with MSM, an organic compound that contains sulfur which helps support your pet’s joints. Nutramax gives your pet the chance to regain or maintain their mobility and a healthy lifestyle. The combination of ingredients works together to protect your pet’s joints and support cartilage production. After the initial loading phase, the amount can be reduced according to your pet’s size and breed during the maintenance phase.

Pros:
+ Vet recommended
+ Coupled with MSM
+ Safe, effective, good bioavailability
+ Supports cartilage production

Cons:
– More expensive than some other brands
– Contains some artificial flavors
– May cause some side effects seen in this article

Why We Like It – The combination of supplements together provides maximum support, which is a significant benefit to the Nutramax Cosequin product. Another is the chewable tablet formula that can easily be mixed with your pet’s food.

2. TerraMax Pro Best Hip and Joint Supplement

TerraMax Pro Hip and Joint Supplement is another veterinary recommended brand, and this 100% pure liquid formula is safe and all-natural! Produced in the USA, using human-grade ingredients, this product gives your pet the maximum joint and hip support they deserve.

TerraMax Pro’s formula helps repair and support joint and cartilage function to help your canine best friend regain and maintain their mobility. Alongside these joint benefits, TerraMax can also help with skin and stomach issues.

With a 100% money-back guarantee, you know this is a brand you can trust. If you or your pet are not happy with this product, you get your money back with no questions asked. You can add this supplement to your dog’s water or food.

Pros:
+ Liquid formula for better absorption
+ Higher concentration than some other products
+ Easily administered
+ All natural

Cons:
– May cause some minor side effects as noted above
– Some pets may not like the taste

Why We Like It – This liquid form makes it easier to hide the supplement in drinking water or food while ensuring maximal absorption by your pet’s gastrointestinal system. Giving it to your pet alone is another option if your pet enjoys the taste.

3. Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM Chewables

Dasuquin is the number one joint supplement brand recommended by vets across the world. Nutramax claims that this formula aids in cartilage production protects cartilage from destruction, and supports joint function. It is one of the most all-round and complete joint support supplements. With more than a decade of clinical use and research behind this brand, it’s paired with MSM to maximize the benefits.

Some say that Cosequin (the other Nutramax option above) is better suited to preventative measures while Dasuquin is suitable for pets with existing arthritis or mobility issues. You could consider Dasuquin to be a strengthened version of Cosequin.

Pros:
+ Higher concentration than other joint supplements
+ Aids in cartilage production
+ Complete support for joint and connective tissues
+ Helps to inhibit the breakdown

Cons:
– May cause some side effects
– More expensive than other products
– Some pets may not like the taste

Why We Like It – Some consumers state that this product is very fast-acting with mobility restored for some pets within 2 weeks to a month allowing you to see visible changes in your pet soon after starting supplementation. For fast relief, you could try Dasuquin from Nutramax.

4. Liquid Health K-9 Glucosamine Hip and Joint Formula

This Liquid Health K9 Glucosamine blend combines glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM to create a powerful formula keeping your pet healthy and happy with flexible and pain-free joints. Produced to support the structural integrity of your dog’s joints, it may even aid in the prevention of arthritis in younger canines. The liquid form can be easier to administer for some pets but adding a little to your pet’s drinking water or directly into their mouth if they will tolerate it. The hyaluronic acid content in this formula helps with lubrication of your pet’s joints. This product could help restore your pup’s mobility and keep joint issues at bay and reduce the painful effects of the elbow and hip dysplasia at bay.

Pros:
+ Contains USA sourced MSM
+ Easy to administered
+ Easily absorbed
+ Improved joint lubrication

Cons:
– May cause some side effects
– Some pets may not like the taste

Why We Like It – Your pup could be well on the way to a happier life in as little as 3 weeks! This formula can be mixed with your pet’s water or food making if the perfect choice if your dog is a picky eater or doesn’t like tablets.

5. Zesty Paws Senior Advanced Glucosamine for Dogs

If you’re not just looking for a preventative and your pet is reaching their golden years, this is a great product. A blend of powerful ingredients that promote flexibility and mobility, Zesty Paws gives your aged pup comfort again. These chewable tablets contain glucosamine and chondroitin to help lubricate joints and ease pain in arthritic joints. The distillation process of the added MSM in this formula claims 99.9% purity. Natural and organic ingredients are more palatable and better for your pet with added vitamins C and E give your dog’s strength and flexibility a boost and lift their spirits. Put a smile back on your pup’s face today, with Zesty Paws Senior Advanced Glucosamine.

Pros:
+ Powerful ingredients to aid aging dogs
+ Lubricates joints
+ Full motion support
+ Tasty flavors

Cons:
– May cause some side effects mentioned in this article
– May leave yellow stains on a light-colored carpet
– Some picky pets may not like some flavors

Why We Like It – Delicious flavors are inviting to most dogs, and these are easily chewed explicitly formulated for senior dogs. The combination of ingredients gives elderly dogs full joint support.

6. Extend Joint Care for Dogs

 This joint care supplement is proudly made in the USA, designed to reverse the effects of any joint damage, support joint repair, and maintain joint health. The delicious beef flavor of this powder formula won’t be turned away, even by the pickiest of eaters! An easy way to mix this supplement is to add water, making a gravy to add extra flavor to your pup’s daily meal. Extend Pets offer a 100% money-back guarantee, if you or your pet are not satisfied with the results, your purchase will be refunded with no questions asked. Try the Extend supplement with full confidence if other formulas haven’t worked. It is safe, 100% natural, and veterinarian-formulated!

Pros:
+ Restore your pup’s mobility
+ Tasty beef-flavored
+ Powder form that can be made into gravy or sprinkled on food
+ Supports and helps heal joints

Cons:
– May cause minor side effects
– Unclear dosing instructions, consult your veterinarian about your pet’s specific requirements

Why We Like It – This is an excellent option for pets that don’t accept the chewable or liquid forms. The powder can be an added condiment to their meal when mixed with water to form a gravy paste.

7. VetriScience Laboratories – GlycoFlex 3

It always puts our minds at ease when we know veterinarians have recommended a particular brand. This brand has been backed by vets for over 30 years and could help your pet regain up to 41% of his strength and hind leg mobility within 4-weeks of supplementation.

The formula is clinically proven, and this supplement is the company’s 3rd stage of joint care support. VetriScience GlycoFlex 3 is recommended for very active dogs or seniors showing signs of joint issues.

There are two forms available, depending on your pooch’s preference, soft chews or tablets. The three most effective supplements in joint support: glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, are blended to form a strong support for your dog.

Pros:
+ Clinically tried and tested
+ Veterinarian recommended
+ Two forms, soft chews or tablets

Cons:
– May cause minor side effects
– Not all dogs may love the flavored

Why We Like It – This is an extra-strength formula specially formulated for dogs that require the maximum joint support. It’s a clinically proven formula offering comprehensive joint support.

8. ProSense Glucosamine for Dogs

ProSense Glucosamine for Dogs, Advanced Hip and Joint Solutions

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This advanced formula contains high concentrations of glucosamine to battle more severe cases of joint damage in pets suffering from arthritis and can also be used as a prophylactic. ProSense also adds chondroitin and vitamin C in an easy-to-chew formula that most dogs love.

Pairing this supplement with food or just after a meal will reduce the risks of them having an upset stomach. You can rest easy knowing this has the NASC’s (National Animal Supplement Council) seal of approval, which means it has undergone independent quality checks.

Pros:
+ High concentration of glucosamine
+ Easy to administer chews
+ Advanced strength and support

Cons:
– May cause some side effects mentioned in this article
– Some pets may not like the flavor

Why We Like It – The delicious flavor is almost like offering your pup a treat and may help you to save money on surgery or medication with this advanced formula.

9. Paws & Pals Glucosamine Supplement for Dogs

Paws & Pals Glucosamine Supplement for Dogs

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Not only is this a joint supplement, but it also has other benefits due to the added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All these combined ingredients serve to support joints, improve aches and pains, and maintain your pup’s flexibility.

The glucosamine and MSM are anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce swelling and pain. No longer will your heartbreak as your pup yelps from joint pain.

Produced in the USA in an FDA regulated facility, this brand not only helps with hip and joint care but also promotes a healthy immune system. Say good-bye to aches and pains; say hello to a happy, healthy pup.

Pros:
+ Extra strength with added ingredients for joint support
+ Helps alleviate pain
+ Maintains cartilage and helps prevent arthritis
+ Made in the USA

Cons:
– May cause minor side effects like those mentioned in this article
– Not all pets love the flavor

Why We Like It – All the ingredients aim to improve your pet’s overall health. Give the gift of pain-free exercise to your pet and watch them run and jump like their younger selves.

10. Doggie Dailies Glucosamine for Dogs

Doggie Dailies Glucosamine for Dogs

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Doggie Dailies is a company committed to prevention and alleviation of joint aches and pain in pets. They include two bonus eBooks full of puppy-care tips on how to avoid some common health problems. If for any reason you or your pooch aren’t happy with your purchase, they will refund 100% of your money back.

All Doggie Dailies products are produced in the USA, meeting stringent safety standards and certified by the FDA, Give your dog one of the best formulas to fight inflammation, lubricate joints and repair cartilage.

The powerful blend of glucosamine, vitamins, minerals, chondroitin, and MSM will target your pup’s mobility issues and help to resolve pain. Try their delicious chicken-flavored chews today.

Pros:
+ Delicious chicken flavored
+ Powerful blend of ingredients
+ Safe and certified
+ Made in the USA

Cons:
– May cause some side effects
– Not all pets will love the flavor
– Contains wheat

Why We Like It – Bonus gifts are always a plus, and the two eBooks give more insight on how to care for your pooch’s health. This Doggie Dailies blend has other benefits aside from joint care.

Conclusion

We cannot stress this enough; our fur-babies are all unique individuals. Each one has special needs, different genetic make-up, and taste preferences. Nothing can pull at your heartstrings more than seeing your precious pup in pain. While we all understand that patience is a virtue, we don’t often have any when a loved one is in pain. Before you do anything rash, remember to CONSULT YOUR VET FIRST. Only your vet knows best when it comes to your pet, illnesses, and dosing. They have extensive knowledge of your pet’s specific needs and health background. Your vet will also know what products are safe to try and which ones to steer clear of.

One more important reminder is the dosage amount. Rather than JUST reading the label which is a general guideline, asking your vet what is most suitable for your pet is your best bet. Giving your pet joint supplements prevents and slows the deterioration of their joints, giving them the chance to move like their younger selves again.

Did You Know?

Experts in this field of medicine, together with veterinarians have recently found that the glucosamine produced in your pet’s body is similar to that presented in humans offering many of the same benefits.

It is recommended to get professional advice and assistance to be on the safe side when it comes to your pooch’s health. For more ways to help a pet with arthritis read this article.

Glucosamine is excellent, but don’t miss out on all the other popular dog supplements available. Be sure to check our probiotics buyer’s guide, our fish oil guide, and our coconut oil guide.

Bestseller No. 1
Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus with MSM Chewable Tablets, 132 Count
  • Plays an important role in maintaining joint function for dogs
  • #1 veterinarian recommended retail joint health supplement brand. The...
  • With MSM, a naturally occuring, organic, sulfur-containing compound....
Bestseller No. 2
ProSense Advanced Strength for Dogs Glucosamine Chew Tablets 120 ct
  • Pro Sense Advanced Strength Glucosamine tablets come in a tasty chewable...
  • Supports join function and cartilage health
  • Includes Vitamin C to promote collagen growth
Bestseller No. 3
PetNC Natural Care Hip and Joint Soft Chews for Dogs, 90 Count
  • Support for healthy hips and joints
  • Savory flavored easy to give chewable for finicky eaters
  • Human-grade ingredients

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Edele Grey, DVM
Passionate about animal welfare, I feel owner education and collaboration maximizes the health of animals while forging unbreakable bonds between owner and pet which provides both parties with the best quality of life.I have a strong scientific background and I take a holistic approach in striving to provide my patients with the best evidence-based care and treatment options.