Glucosamine for dogs - what is it and what does it do?
Updated: Apr 14
If your dog has stiff joints, you’ve probably come across glucosamine for dogs in one way or another.
Joint supplements are amongst the most widely used nutritional supplements today, and most of these are built primarily around glucosamine and chondroitin. Your vet may even recommend trying a supplement with glucosamine for dogs to support your pet's joints before considering medical treatments.
Alongside these two key nutrients there are many other ingredients used in the various joint supplements for dogs – curcumin (from turmeric), MSM, hyaluronic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, minerals and herbal extracts to name a few.
So what is glucosamine for dogs?
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in the shells of crabs, shrimp and lobsters and is made up of glutamine (an amino acid) and glucose (a sugar). It is also found in the human body and in dogs and other mammals. Glucosamine is essential for building and maintaining cartilage and is gaining popularity as the preferred way to support joint health and mobility in dogs and humans alike.
What does glucosamine for dogs do?
Cartilage is an elastic tissue that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints to allow flexibility of movement and absorb shock. Glucosamine for dogs, used alongside chondroitin, can help to support the formation of cartilage and help maintain its shock absorbing qualities. Cartilage is the key to healthy joints, so when your dog is running after his favourite ball or jumping into the car, cartilage is helping to cushion the joints and protect the bones.
As well as making and maintaining cartilage, glucosamine and chondroitin both also help to fight inflammation in the joints and the breakdown of cartilage.
Although glucosamine is produced naturally by your dog’s body, conditions like osteoarthritis or a trauma to the joint can mean that there is not enough being produced to counteract the breakdown of cartilage. If the cartilage degrades, the bones can start to rub at the joint, causing inflammation and pain for your dog and this is when a boost of glucosamine and chondroitin is needed. These two nutraceuticals support the body’s own natural processes. Glucosamine is also thought to support the production of synovial fluid, which helps to lubricate the joints.
Is glucosamine safe for dogs?
Glucosamine is a nutraceutical, which means it is a nutrient found naturally occurring in food. Dog glucosamine side effects are rare and usually mild – the body usually passes excess amounts. However, if your dog starts to appear unwell you should stop giving the glucosamine and check with your vet straightaway. Some dogs are allergic to shellfish, which is usually where glucosamine is sourced from. If your dog suffers with an allergy, glucosamine may not be the right nutraceutical for you.
How much glucosamine does my dog need?
The suggested feeding amount of glucosamine for dogs depends on the dog’s weight and also the severity of any joint issues. We provide some feeding guidelines for our joint care supplement Joint Aid for Dogs, but it’s always advisable to check with your vet first, particularly if your dog is already taking other medication.
Bioavailability of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs
Although these nutrients are both naturally occurring and very useful for the body, they are not usually fully utilised. For example, you may find a joint supplement for your dog containing high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are important for maintaining cartilage and healthy joints. Unfortunately without the right carrier, your dog will likely only absorb between 10% and 25% of the actives, meaning that 75% to 90% is simply passed – and with it, most of the beneficial effects. Not only that, unabsorbed actives like glucosamine can become an irritant in your dog’s lower bowel and cause digestive upsets.
What makes the glucosamine in GWF Nutrition products different?
The Oatinol™ Delivery System in our supplements improves the bioavailability of nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin for your dog.
Using a unique blend of oils, including hemp oil and oat oil, Oatinol produces a very fine emulsion in the gut, and one which can easily pass through the high fat content cells that line the gut into the bloodstream. This emulsion can bind with the larger molecules of nutrients like chondroitin and easily engulf small glucosamine molecules and carry them through the gut membrane, via several pathways, to be processed. This pioneering approach to nutrition means a higher rate of absorption is maintained by your animal’s digestive tract.
Find out more about Joint Aid, our joint supplement with glucosamine for dogs.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health you should always consult your vet, particularly before administering nutritional supplements.