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Can dogs take glucosamine? Everything you need to know about glucosamine

Boxer mix staring into the distance

If you have a canine companion in your life, you may have heard about glucosamine supplements for dogs. Glucosamine is said to offer incredible benefits to our favorite pups, making it one of the most popular supplements for dogs. So what’s so great about glucosamine for our furry friends?

In this article we’ll answer the question of if dogs can take glucosamine and how this natural substance can help to improve their lives. 

Glucosamine 101

So what is glucosamine? Glucosamine is a natural compound that is found in cartilage, as well as the fluid around the joints. The compound of glucosamine helps the body repair cartilage within the joints and form body tissues. Not only does glucosamine support a dog’s joint health, but it also helps to reduce inflammation within the joints.

Though glucosamine occurs naturally in a dog’s body, it is in its highest concentration within healthy joints. This means that as a dog ages and begins to experience joint deterioration, their natural glucosamine production begins to slow. Since glucosamine plays such a large role in cartilage healing, this can cause problems for your pup.

Glucosamine has been used for quite some time in human medicine, and made its way into the veterinary realm about 20 years ago. After extensive research on how this supplement can aid in promoting canine health, glucosamine has taken the pet health realm by storm.  

Can dogs take glucosamine?

So can dogs take glucosamine safely? Since glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in the body, it is perfectly safe for our canine companions. Though glucosamine is safe and effective for dogs, it is important to be sure that you’re offering canine glucosamine rather than human supplements. 

Glucosamine joint supplements for dogs often come in the form of tablets, powder, chews, treats, and even liquid. In many cases, you'll find it combined as glucosamine and chondroitin joint supplement. But no matter the route you choose for your pup, glucosamine has a list of impressive benefits to offer our dogs. 

How glucosamine can help your dog

Glucosamine can help our dogs in multiple ways. With being one of the most popular supplements for aging dogs and dogs with joint pain, it’s clear that this supplement has a track record of improving the lives of our canine friends. Some of the ways that glucosamine can help your dog include:

  • Boosting repair of damaged cartilage
  • Preventing joint damage in active dogs
  • Slowing the progression of joint deterioration
  • Providing relief for dogs with joint conditions (arthritis, hip dysplasia, etc.)
  • Maintaining healthy movement of the joints
  • Soothing painful joints with inflammation relief
  • Offering joint support to at-risk dogs (large dogs, breeds prone to joint conditions, etc.)

With being well known in the veterinary realm for over 20 years, glucosamine has proven to be helpful to our canine friends in many ways. Though glucosamine is often used in addition to other anti-inflammatory supplements (and is often combined as a glucosamine chondroitin supplement), it is quite impressive on its own as well. 

When should dogs start taking glucosamine—and at what dose?

When it comes to the question of when to start offering your dog glucosamine as a joint supplement, the answer will vary based on each dog’s situation. While each dog may differ, there are some basic recommendations from veterinarians on glucosamine use. Since glucosamine offers the best results when used as a preventative method, many vets believe that starting glucosamine before joint pain develops is the best option. 

Glucosamine is listed as a safe supplement for dogs ages 2 and older. Because of this, many veterinarians recommend starting daily glucosamine supplements in at-risk dogs from the age of 2 years old. When a dog is at risk of developing joint conditions or is exposed to vigorous exercise, daily glucosamine can help to prevent future joint damage. Some of the benefits of using glucosamine as a daily preventive measure include:

  • Preventing joint damage in large breed dogs
  • Supporting the joints of dog athletes or dogs that are extremely active
  • Helping to prevent serious joint conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia
  • Helping a dog maintain joint mobility as they age
  • Keeping performance dogs in peak condition
  • Preventing pain and swelling after rough exercise

While many glucosamine supplements for dogs offer a serving label based on weight, it is important to be aware of the best dose for your dog. In order to make sure your dog is receiving a therapeutic dose for their size, be sure to review the recommended glucosamine doses below:

  • 5-20 pounds: 250-500mg daily
  • 20-45 pounds: 500mg daily
  • 45-90 pounds: 1,000mg daily
  • 90 and above pounds: 1,500mg daily

While glucosamine is a generally safe supplement with extremely low risk, it’s always best to discuss its use with your veterinarian first. 

Potential glucosamine side effects

One of the many reasons why glucosamine is so popular for use in dogs is due to how minor the potential side effects are. There's no doube that the benefits far outweigh the risk. Some of the most common effects of glucosamine use in dogs include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea and vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Soft stool or increased bowel movements

While these are always possible, they are most common in cases of overdose. While toxic overdose is extremely rare in the use of glucosamine, dogs can experience diarrhea and vomiting. If you think your dog is experiencing any adverse effects of a glucosamine supplement, it’s best to contact your veterinarian. 


As you can see, glucosamine is a wonderful joint supplement for dogs that has so much to offer our canine companions. Be sure to review the information we listed above about glucosamine use in dogs, and you can help your pup going forward!

The article was written by Amber LaRock, RVT on November 29, 2020.

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