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Benefits of Glucosamine for Aging Dogs

Few things are more satisfying to dogs and their pet parents than a good game of fetch, a visit to the dog park or a bedtime snuggle. But as dogs get older, inflammation and pain in their hips and other joints can make it difficult to enjoy the bonding activities they used to love. Jumping up onto the bed or into the car may suddenly be a lot more challenging. Games of fetch and tug might become lackluster. Trips to the dog park may get shorter when dogs lack the stamina for a strenuous romp. It can be discouraging for pet parents to watch their once energetic dog slow down.

If the primary issue preventing your aging dog from having a good time is joint pain, there’s good news. Glucosamine for dogs can help relieve pain, stiffness and discomfort in joints by speeding up your dog’s natural healing process and stimulating cartilage growth. For more severe cases of joint pain, glucosamine is a great support to use with pain or anti-inflammatory medications your vet may prescribe.

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What is glucosamine and how does it work?  

There’s a reason glucosamine is considered a tried-and-true supplement for athletes.It helps support healthy joints, repair cartilage and reduce joint pain. But two-legged runners and sprinters aren’t the only athletes who can benefit from a daily glucosamine supplement. Glucosamine supplements for dogs are great for helping your dog get that youthful spring back in their step. 

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in your dog’s body. It aids in producing organic materials that keep your dog’s joints and bones working correctly such as cartilage, tendons and the synovial fluid that surrounds joints and keeps them lubricated. In short, it’s crucial for maintaining joint health and helps support your dog moving around without difficulty or pain. 

As dogs age, their bodies don’t make as much glucosamine and it takes longer for their joints to repair after normal activities like going for walks, romping with other dogs or moving up and down stairs. Even younger dogs who are highly active may not have bodies that can keep up with the glucosamine production necessary for their energetic lifestyles.

Benefits of glucosamine for dogs

Whether they’re in or approaching their older years or are still young but particularly hard on their joints, pups who are experiencing joint pain and inflammation could benefit from glucosamine. If your vet determines that your dog is at high risk of developing joint pain, they may recommend you start supplementing with glucosamine now, before they become symptomatic.A daily glucosamine supplement could help give your dog’s natural glucosamine production a boost, allowing their joints to heal more quickly and thoroughly.  Other benefits of glucosamine for dogs may include:

  • Pain reduction When your dog’s joints aren’t properly healing from regular wear and tear, your dog may experience pain. When appropriately used under the guidance of your veterinarian, glucosamine may help speed joint recovery and reduce or eliminate joint pain in the process. Glucosamine supplements can also be great add-ons when your pet is taking pain or anti-inflammatory medication for joint pain. 
  • Reducing inflammation The inflammation that comes from overworked joints with thin cartilage or too little synovial fluid can lead to joint stiffness. This inflammation may reduce the mobility your dog once had, making it difficult for them to jump up and down from the bed or car and making stairs challenging. Glucosamine doesn’t just help ease your dog’s pain. It can also increase their range of motion and the types of physical activities the two of you can share around the home and outdoors.
  • Long-term usage Glucosamine supplements for dogs aren’t a medication. They simply provide your dog’s body with greater access to a substance it already produces. In most cases, glucosamine is a hip and joint supplement that you can typically give your dog for an indefinite amount of time. Side effects are incredibly rare. 
  • Availability Because glucosamine is a supplement—not a drug—you don’t need a prescription to purchase it. However, as with all dog vitamins and supplements, you should formulate your dog’s health and wellness plan with the guidance of a veterinarian. Your local Petco Pet Care Center is a good place to find not just glucosamine dog treats and supplements but also attentive and caring vet services.

How much glucosamine should I give my dog?

The amount of glucosamine your dog requires will be determined by their age, weight and the condition of their joints. They may need as little as 250 milligrams of glucosamine if they’re very small or symptoms aren’t yet present or are very mild. Large breeds and dogs with severe joint inflammation, on the other hand, may require over 1,000 milligrams. Your vet will be able to assess your dog and let you know the appropriate dosage for your pup’s individual needs, including how frequently you should administer the recommended dosage.

In general, glucosamine for dogs is recommended in dosages of about 10 to 50 milligrams per pound of your dog’s weight. However, glucosamine is often administered in two phases, and the dosage in each of these phases will differ. These two different dosages are referred to as the loading dose and the maintenance dose. Your dog will consume a higher amount of glucosamine in the loading dose phase—perhaps double the typical 10 milligrams per pound dosage, or up to 50 milligrams per pound—for four to six weeks. After that, the dosage will likely decrease to 10 to 25 milligrams per pound for regular daily use. This dose is the maintenance dose that your dog will remain on unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian.

It’s uncommon for dogs to overdose on glucosamine supplements, and serious side effects are rare. However, dogs taking glucosamine may occasionally experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about the specific glucosamine dosage your dog should take and let them know if your pet experiences any adverse symptoms. 

Can dogs take human glucosamine?

While glucosamine in its purest form occurs naturally in both dog and human bodies, you shouldn’t give human glucosamine supplements to your dogs. There are several reasons for this.

  • Harmful additives Human glucosamine supplements sometimes contain ingredients that are safe for people but toxic for dogs. Xylitol, a common ingredient in human supplements, for example, is dangerous for dogs to ingest.
  • Improper dosage The glucosamine supplements marketed to people are formulated to contain the correct dosage for adult humans, not much smaller dogs. Giving a dog too much glucosamine may cause health concerns, and it could increase the risk of your dog developing side effects like diarrhea or constipation.
  • The wrong form In addition to the ingredients and dosage, the form of glucosamine your dog ingests matters. It’s hard to get a dog to swallow a pill or capsule—which is why liquid glucosamine for dogs or glucosamine dog treats and chews are typically the more popular option. Your dog may think they’re getting a tasty treat, but you’ll know they’re taking a beneficial supplement.

Whatever form of glucosamine for dogs you choose, talk to your vet about the proper dosage for your pup. If your dog needs additional intervention for joint pain and your vet prescribes a medication in addition to a glucosamine supplement, Petco’s dog pharmacy has you covered. You’ll find a range of pharmaceutical dog joint pain solutions and medications to meet a variety of your dog’s health needs. 

What is the best glucosamine for dogs?

The best glucosamine for dogs isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your dog may benefit from a combination glucosamine supplement that includes other joint-healing substances such as chondroitin or MSM.

The glucosamine supplement that works best for your dog will also depend on your dog’s individual needs. Giving dogs a supplement or medicine isn’t always fun, but glucosamine for dogs is available in more palatable forms like dog treats. At Petco, we carry glucosamine in the form of chewable tablets and soft chews in dog-friendly flavors and liquid glucosamine for dogs who don’t mind taking their medicine when it’s splashed over their food.

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Reviewed by Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM

As Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Miller is the lead veterinary subject matter expert, overseeing the company’s standards of excellence in animal care and welfare, growth in pet services and much more. Dr. Miller leads Petco’s medical team, supporting over 200 full-service hospitals and mobile vaccination clinics operating in over 1,000 Petco Pet Care Centers nationwide