Glucosamine is a joint supplement administered to relieve arthritis pain or prevent joint issues from occurring. Dogs aren’t immune to joint degeneration like humans are, especially as they get older. Have you been considering adding a glucosamine supplement to prevent arthritis or alleviate the discomfort from existing joint disease in your dog? Glucosamine might be an effective additive to their diet.
What is Glucosamine?
In terms of naturally occurring glucosamine, it’s found in the cartilage of animals of all species. The highest amount of glucosamine is found in healthy joints. As joints start to age and deteriorate, natural glucosamine starts to disappear and production is slowed. Research has shown adding glucosamine sulfate in the form of a dietary supplement is an effective treatment for reducing the pain associated with certain types of osteoarthritis and strengthening existing cartilage.
Why is Glucosamine Important for Dogs?
Glucosamine in the canine body creates something called glycosaminoglycan that helps create and repair certain body tissues like cartilage. As your dog begins to age, the production of glucosamine slows down, decreasing the natural reparative process, and leading to joint pain and stiffness. Your dog will continue to stay active unless there is significant pain, which puts more stress on the joints. When you combine the slower repair time of cartilage with aging joints, it generally leads to arthritis.
Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs
Glucosamine is a natural anti-inflammatory. When inflammation is reduced, pain is also reduced. Glucosamine restores joint health naturally and increases joint mobility. It naturally lubricates the joints, subsequently reducing inflammation and decreasing the need for NSAIDs.
Side effects are incredibly rare. If your dog somehow gets into their glucosamine supplement (especially the liquid kind), they will probably experience stomach upset in the form of diarrhea. Some dogs have diarrhea when first starting a glucosamine therapy, but giving the supplement with a meal seems to reduce GI upset.
Always contact your veterinarian if you think your dog is exhibiting symptoms that aren’t normal for them.
Signs Your Dog Might Benefit from Glucosamine
You should always talk to your vet before adding any sort of supplement to your dog’s diet. No matter how natural it is, it doesn’t mean it’s safe in all dogs. However, there are some basic signs that indicate your dog is starting to slow down with age and their joints might need some intervention to keep them comfortable and relatively active.
Studies have shown the dogs that respond the best to glucosamine therapy are middle aged/older medium or large breed dogs. Dogs with joint problems, especially arthritis, are typically quite stiff in the morning. This can manifest as limping or simply moving very slowly until their body has moved around a bit more and their joints get a chance to warm up. Cold weather can also produce the same symptoms. Your dog might also have difficulty getting up stairs, in and out of vehicles, or up and down off of furniture.
These signs don’t necessarily mean your dog is developing arthritis, but they are warning signs they are at risk. At this point, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian to find out the best way to manage it.
Glucosamine supplements for dogs typically come in capsule or powder form. You can find liquid, but this form is more expensive. The usual dose starts at 500 mg for every 25 pounds of dog. This is then divided in two as you give each dose 12 hours apart. Results don’t appear right away; it can take up to six weeks before your dog’s body starts to benefit from the glucosamine.
Your vet is the best resource for information. No matter how much you read online, glucosamine isn’t a good fit for every dog. Sometimes it’s more effective when given in combination with other joint supplements while other dogs might benefit from a completely different treatment regimen. The only way to properly manage your dog’s joint discomfort is with a veterinarian examination and medication recommendation.