Glucosamine For Dogs: Everything You Need to Know · The Wildest

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Glucosamine For Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

You may have heard other pup parents praising this supplement. Here’s what a vet has to say

by Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM
31 October 2023
Woman holding frisbee and running on beach with Jack Russell Terrier.
Dreamwood Photography / Stocksy

Pup parents want to keep their dogs spry, comfortable and active (preferably, they want to keep them alive forever, but as long as possible will have to do). Arthritis can limit your dog’s mobility, cause pain, and take the fun out of their favourite activities. There are a variety of canine joint health supplements containing glucosamine that claim to promote joint health, but are they actually good for dogs?

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is one of the building blocks of cartilage. Cartilage makes up the squishy, slippery surfaces of joints and prevents bone from grinding on bone. In oral joint supplements, glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin sulfate and other ingredients in hopes of providing protection for cartilage and reducing inflammation in joints.

Joint health supplements, such as glucosamine, fall into a category of dietary supplements commonly referred to as ‘nutraceuticals’. They are intended to support health and well-being and cannot be claimed to treat medical conditions. In 2018, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ruled that any glucosamine-containing product at 1,178mg per day or higher must be regulated as a medicine.

What are the benefits of glucosamine for dogs?

Studies on the effectiveness of glucosamine in dogs show mixed results. Oral glucosamine is well-absorbed and is used by the body in cartilage repair. How much this affects a dog’s mobility, joint function or pain level is still a mystery.

Some studies indicate that supplements containing glucosamine have protective effects against induced joint injury and improve some of the clinical signs associated with osteoarthritis. Despite this, literature reviews by the Open Veterinary Journal and the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine show poor evidence of benefit from administering supplements containing glucosamine.

Overall, the effectiveness of glucosamine supplementation in dogs suffering from arthritis, diagnosed with hip dysplasia or recovering from surgery is unclear. It may work to protect cartilage from damage and reduce inflammation in joints, but more studies are needed to know if this is true. Research has not shown a definitive improvement in quality of life for dogs taking supplemental glucosamine.

What are the side effects of glucosamine for dogs?

Fortunately, glucosamine seems to be a very safe supplement for dogs. Mild gastrointestinal side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, are possible but uncommon. Glucosamine is often obtained from sea molluscs, so it can cause allergic reactions in dogs who are sensitive to shellfish. If possible, people with shellfish allergies should not handle the medication.

How should I give glucosamine to my dog?

Glucosamine is available in a variety of forms, including chews, tablets and capsules. It is often combined with other joint health supplements in products made for dogs. Using a high-quality product recommended by your veterinarian is the best bet to get what you’re paying for.

Most products recommend an initial 4–6 weeks loading period at double the maintenance dose. The supplement is usually given once a day, though some dogs with GI upset from the medication may benefit from trying split dosing. Follow the dosing recommended on the product label or your vet’s advice for the best results.

If you’re looking for additional help for your creaky dog, consider some lifestyle changes to help them get around. Maintaining a lean body weight will reduce the load on their joints. Setting up non-slip mats or rugs on slick surfaces can help prevent falls at home. Low-impact exercise in a swimming pool or water treadmill can help keep muscles strong without stressing joints.

For many vets and pet parents, joint supplements containing glucosamine fall into the category of things that may help and are unlikely to cause harm. If you’re worried about your dog’s mobility or arthritis pain, talk to your vet about including a glucosamine supplement as part of an overall strategy to promote joint health.

Frequently asked questions

Can I give my dog glucosamine every day?

Most glucosamine supplements are intended for daily use. Always follow label instructions or your veterinarian’s recommendations when giving medications.

What are the side effects of glucosamine for dogs?

Side effects from glucosamine supplements are uncommon but can include stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhoea or allergic reactions.

What are the benefits of glucosamine for dogs?

Glucosamine may help prevent injury to cartilage and reduce inflammation in joints, but strong scientific evidence supporting this is lacking.

Do all dogs need glucosamine?

Glucosamine isn’t right for every dog. If you’re worried about your dog’s joint health, discuss strategies to protect joints and prevent problems with your veterinarian.

How should I give glucosamine to my dog?

Glucosamine is given by mouth, and its dosage varies based on the dog’s weight.

How long should dogs take glucosamine?

If your dog is tolerating it well, glucosamine can be given daily for as long as needed.


Dr. Bartley Harrison holding his dog

Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM

Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM is a small animal veterinarian based in North Carolina who has practiced emergency medicine since graduating from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. His primary interest areas include pain management, cardiology, and the treatment of shock.

He is a member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, American Veterinary Medical Association, and American Medical Writers Association. In addition to his clinical work, he writes pet health articles to help provide accurate information for both new and experienced pet parents. When he’s not working, he enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, and going on adventures with his dog.

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