Can Glucosamine Supplements Give an Old Dog New Tricks?

Posted by Tiffany Brenner

Like people, senior dogs may suffer from arthritis. Over time, active use, disease, or injuries thin the cartilage that cushions joints. This condition causes pain because the lack of sufficient cartilage allows bones to rub together. While there's no current cure for this medical condition, some pet owners turn to glucosamine as a natural treatment for canine arthritis.


Glucosamine refers to a natural compound found in lubricating joint fluid. Supplement makers may harvest it from shellfish or make a synthetic version in a laboratory. They use it to produce over-the-counter supplements for people and animals. Besides dogs and humans, it's also a popular supplement for horses.

Generally, people buy glucosamine for dogs to treat pain from arthritis or hip dysplasia or to aid in surgical recovery. Sometimes, young, high-performance dogs also get this supplement to maintain their condition

According to the American Kennel Club, proponents of glucosamine supplements believe this compound works by boosting the body's natural ability to repair damaged cartilage. Vets generally consider this supplement safe for most dogs, and pet owners can find plenty of glucosamine treats that their dogs will eagerly consume. Both in the U.S. and Europe, some vets have recommended these kinds of pet supplements for over two decades.


Like all natural, over-the-counter supplements, glucosamine didn't go through the long and rigorous FDA-approval process that most prescription medications do. In the case of supplements, the FDA mostly responds to claims of adverse effects.

This means that manufacturers can put these supplements on the market if they're generally safe but not necessarily proven effective. Still, doctors and scientists have conducted studies of the effectiveness of glucosamine for years. Most of these studies have focused on people, but vets have paid attention to the potential benefits of glucosamine, too.

The American Veterinary Association Journal posted their summary of over a dozen clinical trials on glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs. In response to this review, they concluded that the supplement may provide relief and might even work as well as some prescription drugs. In particular, vets may suggest glucosamine for pets who cannot tolerate side effects of prescription medication or in conjunction with other therapy.


Most dogs don't suffer any ill effects from taking these supplements, and they may prove beneficial. Still, you should exercise some prudence. For instance:

  • As a caution, a few dogs have shellfish allergies. You can find non-shellfish sources of glucosamine, too.

  • Also, talk to your vet before giving this sugar-based compound to a diabetic dog.

  • With an older or infirm pet, you will probably want to ask your vet for guidance.

If you do decide to try supplementing your dog's healthy diet with glucosamine, ensure you buy a high-quality product that provides the correct dosage for your pet. You should also buy a pet product because supplements for people may contain dog-toxic ingredients, like xylitol. As you supplement, watch for such rare side effects as fatigue or insomnia, excessive urination, and increased thirst.

Finally, glucosamine won't work overnight, so give the trial at least 90 days. If glucosamine can help relieve your pet's pain and stiffness, you may have found a natural, inexpensive way to add years to his happy and comfortable life. Both you and your furry friend will start looking forward to treat time.

Related Products

To keep your oldest best friend in shape, we recommend spoiling them with Moe's Spunky Senior treat bundle. The combination of our Movin & Groovin Bites and Multi Plus Bites will have your favorite senior citizen running to thank you!



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