Joint problems like arthritis and inflammation afflict dogs as they age just like they do with humans. These issues can slow your dog down and make movement painful, reducing their quality of life and long-term health.
These conditions are particularly prevalent with large breed dogs, and especially labrador retrievers, though it can affect any dog, no matter the breed or their size.
All is not lost however, and – again, just like with humans– there are plenty of diet supplements for dogs on the market that can improve any joint issues Fido may be suffering with. Although unable to provide a total cure, the best supplements can relieve pain and, if started early enough, even serve as a preventative measure.
One such diet supplement is glucosamine, which you may be familiar with as a human supplement to help ease joint stiffness and the symptoms of arthritis.
Glucosamine for dogs is similar to the human formulation and can prove a valuable tool in the fight against arthritis regardless of the stage the arthritis is at.
In essence, glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in the connective tissue and fluid around joints. The supplement is simply a synthesized version of this.
It can be quite difficult to detect whether your dog is suffering from arthritis, as our canine friends tend to hide their weaknesses and suffering as an innate defensive response.
Having said that, look out for the following clues that could be signs of joint discomfort in your dog:
A decrease in activity and sense of lethargy. They may be particularly hesitant on long walks, and running up and down stairs
Tender to the touch, particularly around their hind legs and hip joints
A restlessness when lying down or sleeping, indicating pain from swelling and inflammation
Your Vet’s Advice
First things first, always consult your vet if you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis or a similar joint problem and they will be able to provide tailored advice and medication to best fit your dog’s needs.
Otherwise, you can make your dog as comfortable as possible by:
Providing them a healthy, balanced diet (remember to reduce their portion sizes accordingly if they are less active than normal)
Giving them plenty of rest and avoiding stressful environments
Giving them plenty of love and attention
Supplementing their diet with substances like glucosamine and other vitamins and minerals to help slow and support the aging process
By taking glucosamine regularly, in the manner advised by your vet, your dog can expect to enjoy the following benefits:
Pain relief from muscle inflammation, bone loss and arthritis
The rebuilding of lost cartilage
Improvement in joint function and movement
Consequently, you’ll notice that your dog has more energy and freedom to move, leading to a greater quality of life and an array of other health benefits.
Additionally, taking glucosamine as a preventative measure for arthritis will mean your dog is less likely to need medicated pain relief in their future.
Comparing Glucosamine to Veterinarian Pain Medication
Glucosamine is cheaper than pain medication
Glucosamine carries less risk of unpleasant side effects than pain medication
Glucosamine is less likely to react with other supplements, dietary intake and medicines than pain medication
You can start your dog on glucosamine at any age; just remember to consult your vet so that they can advise on the best dosage tailored to your pet’s particular needs. As a diet supplement, it carries low risks of side effects and can prove preventative for arthritis and other joint problems later in life.
Having said that, if your dog begins to develop signs of arthritis, or if they are already in the full throes of the disease, glucosamine supplements are still a valuable tool in your dog’s health kit.
If you suspect that your dog may be developing joint problems or arthritis, consult your vet so you can begin treatment and glucosamine supplementation as soon as possible.
How to Give Your Dog a Glucosamine Supplement
Your vet should be able to advise on the correct dosage of glucosamine for your dog, taking into account such factors as their weight, age and the extent of their problems.
It’s imperative that you do consult a vet before administering supplements or other medicines to your dog: only a trained professional will be best placed to know how your dog will react to a certain formula.
Often, your vet will advise your arthritic dog be put on an initial ‘administration’ or ‘loading’ phase, featuring a high intake of glucosamine in a short period, followed by a ‘maintenance’ period with a lower dosage over a longer time span.
Many manufacturers of glucosamine for dogs will have special formulations like flavored chews, liquid, or crumbling tablets to add to food. It depends on your dog’s sensibilities which one they best prefer and are most likely to ingest.
Some manufacturers include additional vitamins and minerals in their glucosamine supplement formulations to provide extra support and benefits to your dog.
Some popular added substances include:
Omega-3 fatty acids: to reduce inflammation and improve the condition of skin and coat
Sulfur and sulfur-containing compounds: helps to rebuild cartilage and joint health while improving the condition of skin, hair, and nails
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): reduces stiffness and inflammation
Manganese: strengthens bones
Glucosamine Side Effects are Not Common
The side effects for a dog taking glucosamine are rare although not unheard of, and usually avoided if you follow dosing advice from your vet.
Allergic reactions: dogs who suffer from shellfish allergies may also be allergic to glucosamine supplements. Your vet will either advise a lower dose of the supplement or recommend a plant-based formulation.
Interactions with blood sugar: glucosamine supplements can interact with your dog’s blood sugar levels, particularly if they are also taking blood-thinning medication. Again, consult your vet for tailored advice.
Gastrointestinal upsets: glucosamine supplements can be a little harsh on your dog’s stomach and digestive system, occasionally leading to flatulence, vomit, and diarrhea. The best way to combat this is to administer their dosage with food or lower their dose, after consulting with your vet.
The Best Glucosamine Supplements for Dogs
Below, I’ve rounded up and reviewed what we consider to be the best glucosamine supplements for dogs currently available on the market.
Trusted manufacturer Nutramax are the people behind the best glucosamine supplement for dogs on the market with their all-round joint support chewable tablet, Dasuquin With MSM.
Dasuquin is most complete joint support supplement on the market today
It’s a chewable tablet that’s easily digestible
Its formulation includes Chondroitin Sulfate, ASU (avocado and soybean unsaponifiables), MSM and green tea to effectively reduce stiffness and other symptoms of arthritis
Additionally, it contains a high dosage of the glucosamine and other helpful compounds.
Hip & Joint Advanced contains an unmatched 1,600 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate and 1,000 mg of MSM.
It’s also fortified with Hyaluronic acid which helps the rebuilding process of cartilage and joint tissue
It’s a liquid formulation which is absorbed faster and more efficiently into the bloodstream than tablets are
TerraMax manufacture their supplements in the USA, and they last for a long time with a money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied
All ingredients are rated at human grade and are distilled to provide the purest form.
The liquid is free from gluten, corn, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, starch and soy derivatives
As it’s in liquid form, this glucosamine supplement doesn’t last as long as the other solid products on this list. The manufacturer recommends that you keep the bottle in the fridge after opening it.
Arthritis will afflict most dogs as they age. Unfortunately, dog owners and veterinarians rarely notice the early warning signs of arthritis because dogs tend to hide soreness and discomfort until the arthritic changes in joints have become severe.
Supplements to the dog’s diet – such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) – can assist in decreasing inflammation and improving your dog’s ability to repair and strengthen joint tissues. And while high-quality supplements are very safe, they tend to work best in combination with other forms of arthritis treatment.