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Front Of The Pack

Glucosamine for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Written by

Dr. Scott Miller

Last updated

A dog’s life is often synonymous with movement. 

Whether they’re walking nicely by your side, running rings around you in the dog park, or leaping from the sofa when they hear food hit their bowl, your pup’s joints get a serious workout, day after day. 

But as your dog gets older, everyday wear and tear can take its toll. Stiffness can creep in, and that bouncy, playful movement doesn’t come as easy as it once did. 

And when you see your dog walking a little slower or struggling with the stairs, it’s only natural that you’ll want to do something to help. 

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance produced by your dog’s body. It helps create the molecules that form the cartilage of your dog’s joints. The name is a combination of glutamine, which is an amino acid, and glucose, which is a sugar. 

As your dog gets older, their body starts producing less glucosamine. As a result, their joints can become stiffer, while the cushioning and lubrication between their bones begins to wear down. 

Giving your pup a glucosamine supplement can help keep joints lubricated and may even slow down the progression of arthritis.

What’s the History of Glucosamine?

Glucosamine was first identified and isolated in 1876 by a German surgeon called Georg Ledderhose, but it wasn’t fully defined until 1939 by British chemist Sir Walter Haworth. 

The two most common forms of glucosamine are:

  • Glucosamine sulfate: The most common type of glucosamine used in supplements, it’s often extracted from the shells of crabs, oysters, and shrimp, or produced synthetically in a lab.
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: Otherwise known as glucosamine HCL, this form also comes from shellfish shells — but it doesn’t contain sulfate (the stuff the body needs to produce and repair cartilage).

In dog supplements offering joint support (like The One and Move), you’ll often see glucosamine combined with ingredients like chondroitin and MSM. Together, these ingredients can help maintain your pup’s cartilage. 

What is Chondroitin?

Chondroitin sulfate is what gives your dog’s cartilage the soft, spongy texture it needs to cushion and protect their joints. One study found that mixtures of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help reverse and repair cartilage damage.

What is MSM?

Methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM, for short) helps reduce pain and inflammation, alleviates allergic reactions, maintains healthy immune cells, and supports hair growth.

How Does Glucosamine for Dogs Work? (And Does It Work?)

Just like with human bones, the ends of your dog’s bones are covered in a thin, spongy layer of cartilage. This layer helps act as a shock absorber as they walk, run, jump, and play. 

Alongside the bone and cartilage, there’s also something called synovial fluid, a liquid that acts as a lubricant, making joint movement smooth and painless. 

However, when age and arthritis take hold, both the cartilage and synovial fluid start to break down. This can result in stiffness and discomfort when moving. And as your pup’s bones begin to rub against one another without that shock-absorbing cartilage and lubricating fluid as a cushion, their pain will only worsen. 

This is where glucosamine can ride to the rescue. Glucosamine supplements can stimulate cartilage growth and thicken synovial fluid, improving joint function and slowing the progression of arthritis. It can’t reverse it entirely (nothing can), but by bolstering your dog’s cartilage and joint lubrication, glucosamine can bring a bit of much-needed relief. 

So, Does Glucosamine Work for Dogs? 

Yes, it does. One 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reviewed 16 clinical trials of treatments for osteoarthritis in dogs. The study concluded that glucosamine supplements were every bit as effective as several pain-relieving prescription drugs for dogs. 

Meanwhile, another 2007 study found that a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate had a positive clinical effect in dogs with osteoarthritis.

When Should You Give Your Dog Glucosamine?

According to this study, US pet owners purchase joint supplements more often than any other type of supplement — and with good reason. 

Almost 20% of dogs older than one year and 80% of dogs older than eight years suffer from osteoarthritis, while some dogs are born with painful hip and joint problems, such as hip dysplasia

You might consider giving your dog a glucosamine supplement when you notice one or more of these common symptoms for hip and joint problems:

  • Stiff, awkward movement or gait
  • Struggling to stand up or sit/lie down
  • Difficulty jumping into or out of the car, off the sofa, bed, etc.
  • Refusing to walk upstairs
  • Taking noticeably shorter walks
  • Favoring a leg
  • Lifting a limb in the air
  • Limping
  • A popping or cracking sound in the hips
  • Swollen joints
  • Grumpy or disinterested attitude (no time for play, just wants to be left alone)

If your dog is displaying any of these signs of joint pain, talk to your veterinarian. It may just be a natural part of the aging process, but it’s always better to be proactive. 

Giving your pet a supplement with glucosamine could help bring relief if they’re already experiencing stiffness and discomfort, while it can also be used as a preventative measure with younger dogs.

How Much Glucosamine for Dogs? 

The amount of glucosamine you give your dog will depend on their size and weight. No matter which dog supplement you’re using, it’s vital that you follow the dosing instructions on the label. If you’re unsure, consult your vet to figure out the best course of action.

With Front of the Pack’s dog supplement, Move, we make it super easy. Simply sprinkle the recommended serving size onto your dog’s food once a day (or mix it in with one of their favorite healthy snacks). 

  • If your dog weighs less than 25lbs, they get one scoop;
  • If they weigh 25lbs - 50lbs, they get two scoops;
  • And if they weigh over 50lbs, they get three scoops. 

Can You Give Your Dog a Glucosamine Supplement for Humans?

If you suffer from stiff and achy joints, you might be tempted to share your own glucosamine supplement product with your dog — but that’s not always a good idea. 

Although there are similarities between human and animal joints, a human glucosamine supplement has been designed for the human body. This means it will probably contain more glucosamine than your pup needs, along with other ingredients that may not be safe for dogs. 

Instead, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and buy a supplement designed and tested specifically for dogs. You can read more about how we test our products here.

What Are the Side Effects of Glucosamine for Dogs?

Glucosamine probably won’t cause any serious side effects for dogs. Instead, you should look out for an adverse reaction to the supplement itself, as one or more of the ingredients may not agree with your pup’s system. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Increased thirst and urination 

Which Glucosamine Supplement is Best for Dogs?

Some vets will offer glucosamine as an injectable supplement, but this can be expensive, time-consuming, and unpleasant for your pup (especially if they have anxiety over visiting the vet).

In contrast, oral supplements are a great alternative. They’re more affordable, easier to administer, and they don’t require regular trips to the vet. 

Oral glucosamine supplements come in a variety of forms, from chewable tablets and treats to liquids and powders. It may take some trial and error to find the one your dog prefers. 

Beyond the glucosamine content, you’ll want to make sure the other ingredients are proven, pure, and potent, with no binders, fillers, or additives. 

Glucosamine for Dogs: The Bottom Line

To recap, what are the benefits of glucosamine for dogs? Put simply, glucosamine can:

  • Help keep your dog’s joints lubricated and cushioned for less painful movement;
  • Reduce joint inflammation;
  • And improve overall joint health.

Glucosamine has very few risk factors and, while it’s not a cure-all, a good quality dog supplement can help relieve joint pain and discomfort.

If your pup’s showing signs of stiffness, try Front of the Pack’s Move supplement. Containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, our combination of clinically proven, all-natural ingredients helps support joint health and reduce inflammation.

Positive, noticeable improvements can appear within 4-6 weeks.