Choosing the Best Glucosamine Joint Supplement for Your Aching Dog
Last Updated: January 15, 2018
As dog owners, we want to know what supplements can help our pups feel their best regardless of age. Glucosamine is a supplement that can support healthy joints for our dogs. This is especially important as our dogs age and their joints begin to wear down.
Hip dysplasia and arthritis are common hip and joint problems that can develop in dogs, and there are many supplements available that are easy to administer to your dog that can coat the joints and provide pain relief for these bone conditions.
With so many options to choose from, it can be a struggle to choose the best glucosamine for dogs. In the sections below, we will explain what joint conditions commonly affect dogs, how glucosamine can help, and which supplements we recommend for dog owners.
Our Top Picks for the Best Glucosamine for Dogs
Glucosamine is a beneficial supplement for many dogs with varying ages and medical conditions. Due to improvements in veterinary care and dog owner education, domestic dogs are living longer. As dogs age, their bones and joints deteriorate while the muscles around them become inflamed. This can be very painful for dogs.
Fortunately, glucosamine supplements combined with chondroitin work to coat the joints, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation around problem areas.
When considering adding glucosamine to your dog's diet, it is important to find one that also includes chondroitin to help any inflammation your dog may be experiencing.
3 Main Arthritis Symptoms to Watch For in Your Dog
Arthritis is a problem that many pet owners will face as their dog ages, and Arthritis has several warning signs associated with it. As a pet owner, if know what to watch for, you may be able to get your dog on a supplement sooner which may help to alleviate the damage Arthritis can do to your dog's joints.
Warning Sign One: Difficulty Moving
Perhaps you've noticed your dog having difficulty getting up or down stairs, or simply standing up. This is one of the easiest arthritis warning signs you'll get as a pet owner, and it's relatively easy to track.
Many dog breeds tend to develop arthritis in their backs, hips, legs, shoulders, and joints as they age. Your dog may seem more hesitant to jump up on things, have less flexibility, and trouble with sitting or going from laying down to standing.
Once you do notice these symptoms, you should also take note if your dog's mobility problems are worsening or staying the same. By watching your dog, you should get a good idea of how much they're feeling this common Arthritis symptom.
Warning Sign Two: Muscle Tone Changes
When it hurts your dog to move around like they used to, they might spend a lot more of their time laying or sitting down. This decreased activity level can have a negative impact on your dog's overall muscle tone.
If your dog's muscles aren't getting used on a regular basis, you may see a softening of their muscle tone. Your dog may seem weaker, and their leg and thigh area muscles will look and feel softer to the touch.
Unfortunately, this lack of movement can also lead to an increased weight gain as your dog isn't moving around and burning off as many calories. If you combine this with a softening muscle tone, you could quickly see your dog's quality of life go down.
Warning Sign Three: Increased Pain Levels
While it isn't unusual for older dogs to experience some minor aches and pains, high levels of pain will most likely be easy to recognize. Your dog may begin to favor one leg over the other and develop a limp if their joints or hips hurt when they walk.
Once your dog starts limping, pay closer attention and observe them throughout the day. You'll most likely see your dog experiencing higher pain and stiffness levels in the morning hours, and this is a common time of day for this symptom.
These increased pain levels can also lead to your dog having a significant decrease in their willingness to play or run around. They do this because they're trying to avoid the pain that can come with arthritis, and it may be a gradual change that can take weeks to notice.
What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin and How Do They Help My Dog?
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are two key ingredients in almost all dog joint health and arthritis prevention and reduction supplements. They each have benefits for your dog on their own, but when you combine them together, you can get a more powerful overall formula that can help to reduce your dog's arthritis symptoms.
Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring compound that is found in your dog's system, and it one of the more popular joint supplement ingredients you hear about. It helps to reduce any previous damage done to your dog's joints by injury or arthritis, and it helps to strengthen the cartilage that is there.
As your dog ages, their natural Glucosamine production slows down, and this is one of the factors that can lead to an increased wear and tear on the joints. Along with this, your dog's cartilage cells are always renewing, and damage can lead to inflammation and the cells releasing enzymes which can lead to even more joint damage.
A joint supplement can help to restore your dog's Glucosamine levels and give your dog's immune system a boost. Also, Glucosamine has several other benefits including:
- Ease the recovery process due to joint surgery
- Keep working and performance dogs in top condition
- Rebuilds and restores joint cartilage
- Helps improve joint flexibility and lubrication for easier movement
- Helps to cushion your dog's joints so they have reduced pain levels
The second key ingredient in many dog joint supplements is the compound called Chondroitin. Chondroitin is also considered to be a natural compound, and you can find it in your dog's cartilage.
The main function of this naturally-occurring compound is to help your dog retain water in their cartilage, and this helps the joints retain their elasticity, and it provides shock absorption from everyday activities. Additionally, it helps to nourish your dog's joints and cartilage, so they remain healthy and balanced.
As your dog ages, it isn't unusual for them to produce less and less Chondroitin. When this happens, your dog may start to experience less flexibility and more stiffness at the joint level, increased pain, and inflammation.
By giving your dog a joint supplement that contains Chondroitin or a mix of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, you may see several benefits including:
- Decrease in inflammation and swelling
- Improved flexibility levels
- Hydrates the joint cartilage for better shock absorption
- Protects existing cartilage from further damage
- Assists with preventing any stress injuries due to damaged ligaments
When you combine both of these ingredients, they can work off of one another and improve their effectiveness. You may also get a more complete joint repair and protection package if you choose a joint supplement with both of these ingredients instead of one or the other.
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What is the Recommended Glucosamine Dosage for Dogs?
Before you begin to give your dog any new supplement, it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian and see if they recommend that you start your dog on this supplement. It is also important to note that the amount of Glucosamine you give your dog can and usually will vary from dog to dog depending on their age, weight, and other health factors.
Glucosamine Dosage Chart for Dogs
|Your Dog's Weight (lbs.)||Recommended Dosage|
|Over 90 lbs.||1,500mg|
When you choose the Glucosamine supplement you want to use, and your veterinarian has given you the okay to use it, carefully check the dosage instructions. It is not uncommon for different brands of Glucosamine supplements to have different dosing amounts and instructions.
Additionally, you have to consider if the Glucosamine product instructs you to give your dog a loading dose or not, as this can easily lead you to give them too much or too little right from the start. Many supplements recommend that pet parents give their dog either one and a half or two times the normal amount for a short period of time to jump-start the supplement's beneficial effects.
It is possible to overdose your dog with Glucosamine, and this is why it is extremely important you talk to your veterinarian and carefully follow any and all dosing instructions they give you, or you get with the supplement. If you believe you've given your dog too much Glucosamine, your dog may exhibit the symptoms we've listed below, and you should call your veterinarian right away.
- Skeletal structure and joint pain increase
- Jaundice (eye yellowing)
- Increased thirst and urination
When you begin giving your dog the Glucosamine supplement, make sure your dog's treats don't also contain Glucosamine as this can lead to you accidentally giving them more than the prescribed dose. Other medications your dog may be on can also interfere with the dosage and the overall effectiveness of the Glucosamine supplement.
As with any new diet changes or supplements, it is important that you monitor your dog for any unusual behaviors or changes. If you notice something, it is a good idea to call your veterinarian and ask what they recommend you do.
What are the Differences Between Human and Dog Glucosamine?
Many pet owners assume that there are no differences between human and animal glucosamine. While glucosamine is an amino sugar that both humans and dogs have in their bodies, giving your pet the human version of this supplement could be a mistake that can lead to some harmful side effects for your pet.
Let’s go over the differences in the two types of glucosamine and how they differ for the human and dog systems.
Glucosamine itself is safe for both humans and dogs. What makes them different is the other ingredients that, while maybe healthy for a human, are not as healthy for your four-legged friend. In fact, some of these ingredients can even be fatal for dogs.
Another factor that makes a difference is the coating in the supplement tablets. The coating on human supplements is designed to digest in the human digestive tract, not that of a dog. While our systems can process the coating easily and without any issues, your pet's system may have difficulties and could lead to health issues.
There is another difference between canine and human versions of glucosamine. Each digestive systems works in different ways when breaking down materials.
Since our digestive tract is much longer than that of a canine, it has plenty of time to be absorbed before passing from our bodies.
If your dog was to take a human tablet designed to be swallowed whole, the tablet would more than likely pass through their system long before it has time to properly dissolve.
This is why canine glucosamine tablets are designed to be chewed, it helps to break down the material and allows it to be absorbed into their bodies.
Unless you are planning on giving your dog a human supplement that is pure glucosamine, such as a powder or liquid, your best bet is to simply purchase a glucosamine supplement designed for canines.
Side Effects of Glucosamine for Dogs
The side effects that can occur from your dog taking a Glucosamine supplement have been reported as being a rare occurrence. As a pet parent, you should also know that the side effects that do present are typically very mild and resolve on their own once your dog's system has time to regulate to the new supplement.
If your dog has an allergy to shellfish, double check the ingredients in the Glucosamine supplement, as many of them have a shellfish base. It is possible to find corn or plant-based supplements that contain Glucosamine, but they're slightly more difficult to find.
A common mild symptom of an allergic reaction is your dog chewing or biting at his or her feet. If your dog has a strong shellfish allergy, it could send them into anaphylactic shock, and they'll need immediate veterinary treatment.
Diabetic Problems and Blood Sugar Interactions
If your dog is on medication for common conditions like Diabetes, it is generally not a good idea to give them a Glucosamine supplement as this can interfere with how well their diabetes medication works. Again, if you're not sure you can always ask your veterinarian how the two would mix, or if it would cause further problems.
Your veterinarian may recommend a lower dose than the instructions say to use, or they may recommend that you avoid giving your dog the Glucosamine supplement entirely.
Some of the most common issues pet parents have reported after starting their dog on a Glucosamine supplement is mild gastrointestinal issues like runny stool, vomiting, and general upset stomach. These symptoms typically go away on their own as your dog's system gets used to the supplement.
You can also check the instructions and see if they recommend you give your dog food when you give them this supplement. It can be beneficial to give your dog's stomach a cushion of food before you give them the supplement so it can absorb quickly and not be so harsh on their system.
Liver or Kidney Problems
If your dog has liver problems, liver disease, kidney problems, or kidney disease, adding a Glucosamine supplement is generally not recommended for safety reasons. Your dog's body won't be able to filter out and regulate the Glucosamine, and it can actually cause more damage to your dog's liver and kidneys.
Even at extremely low doses, Glucosamine may cause liver or kidney failure if your dog has existing problems, and you don't want to make your dog's condition worse.
Natural Sources of Canine Glucosamine
Glucosamine is found in natural animal sources, including shellfish shells like lobster, shrimp and crab. Common animal food sources for glucosamine include chicken feet, beef trachea, and pork tails.
The substance is also found naturally in any cartilage-rich animal food. Beef tracheas are a prime example and since it is cartilage, it contains 5% glucosamine. Here's a list of popular natural sources of glucosamine:
- Beef tracheas
- Chicken feet
- Pork tails
- Beef knucle bones
- Shellfish shells
- Green lipped mussels
- Bone broth
How much glucosamine does my dog get from natural sources?
A 1 ounce piece of beef trachea or other animal cartilage provides over 1,400 milligrams of glucosamine. That amount would be nearly enough to meet the recommended daily dose for a dog weighing over 90 pounds.
Chicken feet, which are inexpensive and easily purchased, provide about 400 milligrams per foot. Two chicken feet would provide nearly the recommended dose for a medium- to large-sized dog weighing between 45 and 90 pounds.
The concentration of glucosamine is similar for all cartilage-rich animal foods. One ounce will yield approximately 1,400 milligrams of glucosamine when fed raw or dehydrated. Research is still being conducted on sources like bone broth or cooked cartilage, and offering these foods to your dog will offer your pet tasty nutrition, but an unknown amount of glucosamine.
Which Joint Supplement Works for Dogs with Food Allergies?
Every year, thousands of dog owners make the decision to start their aging dogs on a joint supplement regimen. However, dogs have food allergies just like humans do, and this can make something as simple as adding a supplement much more complicated.
Remember, the overall health of your dog and any other conditions will affect the way they respond to supplements. Always check with your veterinarian before adding supplements to your dog's diet.
Food Allergies and Supplements
One topic that can put a halt on your search for a good supplement is food allergies. Dogs who have food allergies or sensitivities need special care when the time comes to add in supplements like glucosamine. So many supplements have added ingredients which, even in small amounts, can trigger a reaction in your dog.
Vegetarian glucosamine is a viable option for dogs with food allergies, especially shellfish allergies. Since shellfish is the most common source of glucosamine, a shellfish allergy severely limits the safe options for your dog. The glucosamine in vegetarian supplements is derived from corn. These supplements now also included MSM derived from plants, where older vegetarian supplements were missing this ingredient.
Our Top Vegan Glucosamine Pick for Dogs with Food or Shellfish Allergies
Bark Labs FlexComplete 100% Vegetarian Dog Joint Supplement is our top choice for dogs dealing with food allergies, including shellfish. More affordable than some non-vegetarian versions, this liquid supplement contains ingredients that does not contain Shellfish, Beef, Gluten, Wheat, Milk, Soy, Sugar, Starch, Yeast or Salt. It is made with corn, and still contains key ingredients that can deliver powerful joint relief to your dog.
As with all glucosamine supplements, it takes time to notice an improvement. Most users notice a positive change in their dog's ability to go up and down stairs, overall energy levels, and endurance during walks within 6-8 weeks. Some dogs will show improvements even sooner.
Positive reviews cite this product's fast acting ingredients and attribute the fast results to the liquid form and absence of fillers. Many owners explain their dog's extensive food allergies and the frustration with trying to find a safe supplement. Their relief with finding this product safe is only added to their excitement with the fast results.
Critical reviews noted that some dogs have a hard time adjusting to taking the supplement with their food. Some dogs do have corn allergies so this product would not be suitable for them. One reviewer suggested that the manufacturer use a pump lid for easier use. Some users stated they did not see any changes in their dog after giving the allotted 8 weeks of use, but the manufacturer does offer a money-back guarantee for these situations if owners are dissatisfied for any reason.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Glucosamine Supplements
1. TerraMax Pro Hip & Joint Supplement
TerraMax Pro Hip and Joint Supplement is formulated to be a fast-acting liquid supplement. The liquid form ensures that the supplement will begin working at a more rapid pace, which means your dog could start feeling the positive effects sooner.
This formula is made up of all-natural ingredients that are specially selected to be acceptable at a human-grade level. It also comes with a multi-function use which means that your dog can get help with any joint problems as well as any skin or coat issues, stomach problems, incontinence, wounds, and any inflammation.
With every fluid ounce of TerraMax Pro, you give your dog; you're giving them 1,600 milligrams of Glucosamine, 1,200 milligrams of Chondroitin Sulfate, 1,000 milligrams of MSM, and 10 milligrams of Hyaluronic Acid. All of these ingredients combine to form a powerful supplement that helps to repair and maintain your dog's healthy joints and cartilage.
If your dog has a allergy to yeast, this may be the supplement to give them. This supplement is made without any corn, gluten, milk, starch, soy, or yeast products such as brewer's yeast, and this can make it easier on their stomachs.
You can add this supplement to your dog's water, or you can pour it into their dog food each day, and the liquid format makes this an easy task. This supplement also outlasts a lot of the other Glucosamine supplements out there and depending on your dog's weight; you can get up to two months' use out of a single bottle.
Pet parents who have bought and tried this supplement reported that their dogs showed an increased mobility level along with an increased control over any incontinence issues. They did say that it took anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to see a lot of improvement, and this largely depended on how advanced their dog's issues were when they started them on this formula.
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2. Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM
Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM comes in two different dosage sizes with one for dogs under 60 pounds and one for dogs over 60 pounds. It is marketed as a complete joint health supplement that comes in a soft chewable tablet that all dogs can enjoy.
When you purchase this supplement, you get 150 per bottle, and you're instructed to give your dog one or two chewables per day for the first four to six weeks, then drop down to one per day. Each chewable contains 900 milligrams of Glucosamine Hydrochloride, 800 milligrams of MSM, 350 milligrams of Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, and 90 milligrams of ASU.
This formula comes backed by over a decade of clinical studies and use, so you can rest assured about its level of effectiveness and how safe it is. It is formulated for extended use to help alleviate hip and joint pain, skeletal structure degeneration, stiffness and mobility issues, and lethargy.
Dogs of all ages can use this supplement, and it can be used to prevent or reduce arthritis symptoms and degeneration in younger dogs, as well as give older dogs a boost to their entire system.
Many pet parents have tried this joint supplement, and they've reported that their older dogs have an increased mental awareness, and they're more willing to get up and move around or play throughout the day. They've also reported that their dogs seem to be moving easier, and they seem to have reduced pain levels when they're kept on this joint supplement.
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3. Glyco-Flex III Soft Chews
These soft chews are designed to look and taste more like treats than traditional supplements, so your dog may take them easier. This formula is backed by over 40 years of research, and veterinarians have been recommending it for that long as well.
This particular supplement comes in a few different stages so that you can tailor your choice to your dog's breed type and their current condition and health. In particular, the Glyco-Flex III formula is meant for working dogs, senior dogs, or very active dogs that are displaying common signs of joint health problems and pain.
Glyco-Flex III comes with all of the standard ingredients that most joint supplements have including chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM. However, there is a specially formulated ingredient that sets this formula apart, and it is called Perna canaliculus.
Perna canaliculus is made out of a whole food green-lipped mussel, and it can help to provide the essential building blocks for healthy cartilage and joint lubrication. This ingredient comes straight from the waters of New Zealand and it is packed with amino acids and omega fatty acids.
You'll choose between an exclusive duck or liver flavor, and it comes in a soft, treat-like chew. Each chew has 1,000 milligrams of Glucosamine, 1,000 milligrams of MSM, and 600 milligrams of Perna Canaliculus for a balanced, healthy, natural supplement.
Several pet parents have given their dogs this supplement, and they've reported that this particular supplement works better on dogs that have mild to moderate arthritis problems, and not so well with severe cases. They stated that they saw an improvement in their dog's mobility levels and a reduction of the stiffness and inflammation that is so common with arthritis.
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4. Nutramax Cosequin DS plus MSM
Cosequin DS plus MSM chewable tablets are made by Nutramax, and they rank as one of the #1 veterinarian-recommended products for joint protection and repair. This supplement is designed to help repair any existing damage to the joint or cartilage, as well as protecting them from further damage or natural wear and tear.
With each dose you give your dog, you'll be giving them 600 milligrams of Glucosamine, 300 milligrams of Chondroitin, 250 milligrams of MSM, and 3 milligrams of Manganese. These ingredients work to help restore fluid to the cartilage, improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation throughout your dog's system.
No matter what your dog's current age, this supplement is suitable for puppies up to senior dogs. You do start your dog off with a loading dose that is based on their weight for the first four to six weeks; then you take it down to the normal dosage for the rest of the time.
The bottle itself comes with 132 supplement tablets per bottle, and you get the option to order in bulk, or you can order individual bottles as you need them.
According to pet parents who have purchased and used this joint supplement, they saw a marked improvement in their dog's mobility levels, and typically within the first few weeks of trying this supplement. They also reported that their dogs were more eager to play, climb stairs and that their dogs were more generally active overall once the supplement got into their systems.
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5. Extend K9 Health Formula Joint Care for Dogs
Extend Joint Care for Dogs is manufactured in the United States by Extend Pets. This company was formed in 2012 by a group of pet owners who wanted to create a premier joint supplement for their dogs.
This supplement has a formula that is specifically designed to reverse the effects of damaged or worn out joints, help improve mobility and flexibility and support cartilage repair. It contains several powerful ingredients like Glucosamine, MSM, Ascorbic Acid, and Type II Chicken Collagen.
The Type II Chicken Collagen is what sets this joint supplement apart from many other joint supplements. It acts as an essential building block for building and maintaining healthy cartilage, and it works to boost your dog's immune system at the same time.
This supplement is currently only available in powder form, but it can be one of the easiest supplements to give your dog. It comes in prepackaged tubes, and you give your dog one a day, no matter what their current weight is.
You can either sprinkle this over their food or mix it with a little water to make a gravy that you pour over your dog's food. There is no loading dose, and the instructions do say you can start with half of a packet and easy your dog up to a full one once you see how well they'll tolerate it.
People who have purchased this supplement for their dogs report seeing improvement in as little as 14 days. They reported that their dogs were more alert and that they seemed to be moving with less pain and stiffness when they got up in the morning, and this trend continued throughout the day.
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What is the Best Glucosamine for Dogs?
Terramax Pro Hip and Joint Supplement is the overall best glucosamine for dogs we have found that meets a variety of dog owners needs and concerns. This liquid based product has the best value, tasteless and produced by a great company.
Terramax Pro offers a money-back guarantee if you aren't happy with your dog's results. Be sure to give the product the full 4-6-week trial period to judge the effect this supplement has on your dog.
All products reviewed above are viable options for your consideration. Your vet can also help you to choose the right option. When used consistently, glucosamine supplements can help your dog experience less pain and more energy over time.
Glucosamine is a great first defense against joint and hip problems for your dog. While joint damage cannot be fully reversed, you can ease your dog's discomfort and help them enjoy daily activities as much as possible with the right diet and supplements.