Maybe your dog is getting a little older, slowing down, and showing signs of stiffness. Or perhaps they’ve developed a sudden limp, a reluctance to climb stairs, or your walks together are becoming noticeably shorter.
Whatever has prompted you to look into joint pain relief for dogs, you’ve probably noticed one ingredient in particular cropping up time and again: glucosamine.
We dig into glucosamine for dogs in more detail in this article, but here, we’re tackling a common question asked by concerned dog owners: how much glucosamine should my dog take?
First, What is Glucosamine?
A naturally-occurring amino sugar produced by your dog’s body, glucosamine helps create the molecules that form the cartilage of your pup’s joints.
As your dog gets older, their body starts producing less glucosamine, while the spongy layer of shock-absorbing cartilage and lubricating synovial fluid also breaks down. As a result, your dog’s joints can become stiffer, while their bones start rubbing, causing pain and discomfort.
Glucosamine supplements (which often also contain chondroitin sulfate) can stimulate cartilage growth and thicken synovial fluid to help keep joints cushioned and lubricated — and it may even stop arthritis from progressing as quickly in dogs.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin sulfate is the stuff that gives your dog’s cartilage its soft, spongy texture needed to cushion and protect their joints. One study found that mixtures of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help reverse and repair cartilage damage.
Chondroitin also promotes water retention and elasticity in the cartilage, which helps absorb shock while nourishing the joint lining. And it stops potentially destructive enzymes from forming in the joint fluid and reduces clots in the small vessels.
Taken together, glucosamine and chondroitin can increase joint flexibility and mobility.
So, How Much Glucosamine Should a Dog Take?
Before you start giving your dog a joint supplement (or any supplement, for that matter), it’s a good idea to speak with your veterinarian. They’ll help you understand the best course of action for your pup’s situation.
Generally speaking, how much glucosamine you give your dog will depend on their weight and the severity of their condition.
The following is a good rule of thumb for a daily glucosamine dosage:
- Less than 25lbs: 250-500 mg
- 25lbs to 50lbs: 500 mg
- 50lbs to 90lbs: 1,000 mg
- 90lbs+: 1,500 mg
In Front of the Pack’s The One supplement, you’ll find 250mg of glucosamine per scoop. In our daily Move supplement (dedicated to joint and mobility health), you’ll find 400mg of glucosamine per scoop.
For both supplements, we recommend the following servings:
- One scoop for dogs weighing less than 25lbs
- Two scoops for dogs weighing 25lbs to 50lbs
- Three scoops for dogs weighing 50lbs or more
How Does Glucosamine Work?
Although glucosamine was first discovered in 1876 – and it’s been extensively studied since – no one knows for sure how it actually works. However, there are some theories.
The most common theory is that glucosamine stimulates cartilage growth and thickens synovial fluid (the liquid that lubricates the joints), improving joint function and slowing the progression of arthritis.
Can Glucosamine Work for Dogs?
According to a couple of studies, it can.
- One 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, a randomized, double-blind trial found that a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate had a positive clinical effect in dogs with osteoarthritis.
When Should You Start Giving Your Dog Glucosamine?
Certain breeds are more likely to develop arthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and general joint inflammation. These tend to be bigger breeds, but some smaller, short-nosed species are also in the at-risk category.
With that in mind, it’s often a good idea to start early with a glucosamine supplement — even before your pup starts displaying symptoms.
If your dog’s breed is listed below, think about giving them glucosamine when they turn one.
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Basset Hounds
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- British Bulldogs
- Catahoula Hounds
- Chow Chows
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
- French Bulldogs
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Golden Retrievers
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Pit Bulls
- Saint Bernards
- Shih Tzus
- Springer Spaniels
If your dog’s breed isn’t listed above, it’s still a good idea to start them on glucosamine early (from around two to three years old) as a preventative measure.
How Should You Give Your Dog Glucosamine?
Some vets offer injectable glucosamine supplements, but these can be expensive, time-consuming, and unpleasant for your pup (especially if vet trips make them fearful and anxious).
Oral glucosamine supplements are, therefore, a great alternative. They’re more affordable, easier to administer, and they don’t involve a vet appointment.
The oral version comes in various forms, from chewable tablets and treats to powders and liquids. It may take some trial and error before you find the version your pup prefers.
If you’re giving your dog glucosamine in treat form (such as soft chews), watch out for added calories. Some of these treats need to be fed in large quantities to ensure your dog is getting enough glucosamine — but this approach can be quite fattening.
And beyond the glucosamine content, you’ll want to make sure all the other ingredients in the supplement are proven, pure and potent, with no binders, fillers, or additives. You can learn more about Front of the Pack’s ingredients here.
Can You Give Your Dog a Human Glucosamine Supplement?
You might be tempted to pick up a glucosamine supplement from your local drugstore or share your own if you also suffer from stiff and achy joints. But no matter how noble your intentions are, giving your pet human supplements is never a good idea unless the ingredients have also been safely tested in dogs.
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.
Side Effects: Symptoms of Glucosamine Allergies in Dogs
Glucosamine side effects are rare. However, some dogs can experience an allergic reaction to a glucosamine supplement. This tends to be similar to any other food allergy, with the allergic pup reacting to the seafood present in the supplement.
Why seafood? Well, the most common type of glucosamine used in supplements is glucosamine sulfate, which is often extracted from the shells of crabs, oysters, and shrimp.
Note: The glucosamine we use in our supplements is plant-based and shellfish-free.
If your dog displays the following symptoms, they may be allergic to glucosamine supplements derived from shellfish:
- Itchy skin and ears
- Excessive licking
- Hair loss
- Bald spots
- Digestive issues
Read more: Your Simple Guide to Allergies in Dogs
How Much Glucosamine for Dogs: The Bottom Line
Giving your dog the right amount of glucosamine every day can help relieve joint pain and discomfort — or guard against it before symptoms occur.
Containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and a range of other clinically proven, all-natural ingredients, one serving a day can help support joint health and reduce inflammation.