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The Lively Paws guide to glucosamine for dogs

by Amber LaRock November 29, 2020 4 min read

Person holding a pill in her hand while a dog watches from below

If your dog suffers from daily aches and pains, you may be looking for ways to offer them some much-needed relief. With glucosamine growing in popularity among dog owners, you will likely see this supplement option many times in your research. So what is glucosamine and how can it help your dog?

In this article we’ll dive into the details of glucosamine use in dogs, and help you understand when it can benefit your furry friend. 

What are glucosamine and chondroitin?

When researching the use of glucosamine in dogs, you will often see this supplement paired with another compound called chondroitin.Glucosamine and chondroitin work together to target inflammation in the canine body, making it one of the most effective tools in managing joint conditions in dogs. To help you better understand each compound going forward, let’s discuss the details of both glucosamine and chondroitin. 

Glucosamine: Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in the healthy cartilage of a dog. Glucosamine works to repair any damage within the joints, and assist in repairing other tissues in the body as well. While dogs do produce glucosamine naturally, the level of this substance begins to subside as our dog’s age. Because of this, our dogs can experience more joint pain as the years go by. 

Chondroitin: Just like glucosamine, chondroitin is also a naturally occurring compound that is found in the cartilage. Chondroitin helps to improve shock absorption in the joints of our furry friends by promoting water retention and elasticity within the joints. Since shock absorption is so important in protecting the joints, our dogs are more at risk of joint damage once their chondroitin levels begin to decline. 

Can dogs take glucosamine?

So  can dogs take glucosamine? The answer is yes! The use of daily glucosamine in dogs can offer joint support in multiple ways, especially in dogs that are at risk of or currently suffering from joint conditions (like osteoarthritis in dogs). As long as you follow the recommended dosing guidelines on an approved glucosamine supplement for dogs, your furry friend can reap the many benefits of this impressive dietary supplement. 

Can you use human glucosamine for dogs?

Though dogs can benefit from the use of daily glucosamine, it is important to make sure that you are only offering a supplement that is approved for use in dogs. Since humans have different dietary and safety needs, we can safely consume ingredients that are extremely toxic to our dogs. 

For example, many human joint supplements contain artificial sweeteners that can be extremely dangerous for our furry friends. Xylitol, for example, can cause a deadly drop in blood sugar, leading to serious complications in any dog that consumes it. Not only can human glucosamine include potentially toxic ingredients, but they are usually much more concentrated than a canine-approved supplement. 

To ensure that your dog benefits from the joint support that glucosamine has to offer, it’s always best to ensure that you are using a dog-approved and veterinarian-trusted brand. If you are ever unsure of a certain brand’s safety, you can always consult with your vet. 

When to supplement glucosamine for dogs

So when should you add a glucosamine supplement to your dog’s daily diet? Since our dog’s can’t tell us how they are feeling each day, it’s up to us to be aware of the possible signs of joint pain. To help you ensure that your dog gets the relief they deserve, let’s discuss a few common signs of when a dog may require glucosamine. 

Your dog may benefit from the use of glucosamine if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Slowing down over time
  • Limping
  • Disinterest in physical activities
  • Lameness
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion
  • Slower to get up in the morning
  • Decrease in their normal stamina
  • Reluctance to climbing on furniture or other raised objects
  • Swollen or sore joints

Your dog can also benefit from the use of daily glucosamine if they fall into any of the categories below:

  • Large breed dog
  • Extremely active
  • Canine athlete
  • Senior dog
  • Joint conditions such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, luxating patellas, etc.
  • Struggling with obesity
  • Previous bone or tendon injury or surgeries

Finding the right glucosamine dosage

Though most canine glucosamine supplements do the dosing work for you, it is best to be aware of the ideal dosing ranges for your dog’s weight. Aside from reading the dosing label on your joint supplement of choice, you can determine your dog’s ideal dose by using our weight reference below:

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

Side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs

Glucosamine and chondroitin have become such a popular dietary supplement due to their joint support benefits and minor potential side effects. With having such a large margin of error when it comes to dosing, it is extremely rare for a dog to experience a serious side effect from either compound. 

The minor side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin involve soft stool and increased flatulence, and the small risk of diarrhea in situations of overdose. Though GI upset is possible, you can limit this occurrence by following the recommended dosing guidelines. 

While serious side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin are rare, you should always consult with a vet about these supplements if your dog is suffering from kidney or liver disease. Since both organs play a major metabolic role, it’s unclear if this can cause any complications in their overall health. Likewise, if your furry friend has a disease that affects a major body process, you should always consult with your vet before offering a new supplement.

Final thoughts

As you can see, glucosamine has a world of joint support to offer. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can better understand this impressive dietary supplement going forward!


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

Amber LaRock is a Licensed Vet Tech that took her career online to spread knowledge on animal health and welfare. She graduated from the Cedar Valley Veterinary Technology Program in 2015 with an A.A.S in Veterinary Technology, and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Texas in 2016. Amber began her career in emergency medicine and critical care, and has now been working at an emergency animal hospital for 6 years. With the experience she gained from her time working in emergency medicine, Amber has been able to spread accurate information online in all realms of pet health. If she is not at her laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find her somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that she can find!