If your dog is older, has arthritis, or has recently had surgery which affected his bones, joints and/or cartilage, then you are probably already familiar with the health supplements called Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
Long accepted as an effective treatment for osteoarthritis in Europe, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are now used by physicians and veterinarians here in the United States to bring relief to humans and animals who suffer from chronic joint pain.
For example, hip dysplasia (which is common in older and large breed dogs), as well as spinal disk problems and other orthopedic problems have all been successfully treated with Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
Thanks to these 2 supplements, many dogs that had once lost their zest for life have had their pain relieved and mobility restored.
Cartilage and fluid within joints are crucial to normal joint function. With age, or after trauma, this cartilage may not be fully functional and fluid levels may diminish. Glucosamine and Chondroitin help provide the necessary nutrients for cartilage repair and function. Source
If you’re thinking of giving your dog Glucosamine or Chondroitin supplements for the first time, here’s what you need to know…
Glucosamine & Chondroitin: Are They Safe?
Chondroitin and Glucosamine are molecules that occur naturally throughout the body. They are found most frequently in cartilage, the connective tissue that cushions joints from rubbing against each other during movement. Chondroitin aids the absorption of water and other fluids essential for healthy cartilage. It is also thought to help generate new cartilage and prevent enzymes from breaking down existing tissue. Glucosamine strengthens cartilage and triggers the creation of glycosaminoglycans, one of the main substances that make up connective tissue. Source
In most cases with supplements, there is little or no research confirming the safety or effectiveness of that particular supplement. As a result, what may work well for one dog (or person) may not be nearly as effective for another.
When it comes to safety, you want to make sure that the supplements you buy (any supplements, not just Glucosamine or Chondroitin) have been independently tested by one or more independent laboratories.
Another way to ensure the safety of supplements is to look for the USP seal of approval which indicates that the USP has tested and verified the ingredients, potency, and manufacturing process. The USP sets official standards for dietary supplements.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are available in animal formulations (for dogs, cats, and horses), as well as human formulations. Generally speaking, products that contain human-grade Glucosamine and Chondroitin are much more likely to be of high quality and in a purer form. In addition, many pet owners choose to give their dogs Glucosamine and Chondroitin formulations that are designed for humans due to the fact that pet supplements often cost more than human supplements.
Check out this list of human supplements and antibiotics that are safe for dogs, and this list of human medications that are safe for dogs.
What’s The Correct Dosage?
Dogs (and humans) see the most noticeable improvements when they take Glucosamine and Chondroitin together. The two work together in a way that’s better than either supplement when used alone.
Specifically, the Glucosamine is often labeled Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCl), and you may see these numbers FCHG49 on the bottle. The Chondroitin is often labeled Chondroitin Sulfate, and you may see these numbers on TRH122 on the bottle.
In addition, some formulations of Glucosamine and Chondroitin also contain Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and/or Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) as optional enhancers. The MSM is an anti-inflammatory for pain and swelling. The ASU is combination of healthy oils that are good for a dog’s skin and coat.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how much of the Glucosamine and Chondroitin to give your dog.
There are literally hundreds of Glucosamine and Chondroitin preparations available, with varying quantities and qualities of active ingredients. For this reason, it is hard to be very specific about the required dosage, and many vets recommend that you provide glucosamine in the form of a natural supplement, such as bone marrow powder. As a general rule you should provide approximately 250mg per 10 lbs. of dog twice per day – Source
Many veterinarians recommend approximately 500 mg of Glucosamine and 400 mg of Chondroitin per 25 pounds.
Here’s a chart to help you determine how much Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and ASU to give your dog based on his weight.
With so many variables involved, it makes sense to consult your veterinarian first to get their personal recommendation based on your dog’s unique situation with regard to which supplements to take and the best dosage for your dog.
It’s worth noting that you probably won’t notice any changes in your dog’s mobility until they’ve had the supplements in their system for a full 4 to 8 weeks. Here’s how you will know the supplements are working.
Special Dog Food vs Supplements
While Glucosamine and Chondroitin are often recommended following surgery or after the diagnosis of various health issues, these supplements are most effective as a preventative measure.
That’s one reason that Glucosamine and Chondroitin are often included as ingredients in a number of senior dog foods.
It’s important to add up the amount that’s in each supplement, plus the amount that is already in your dog’s food to ensure that you’re not giving your dog too much based on his weight. While overdosing is rare with these 2 supplements, adverse effects could take place such as diarrhea or vomiting — especially if given on an empty stomach.
If your dog doesn’t have any specific bone or joint issues currently, but you want to prevent such injuries, aches and pains from occurring in the future, then you may want to switch to a dog food that has some Glucosamine and/or Chondroitin in it. It’s usually a very low dose, so it might be a good initial step, instead of giving larger doses of the Glucosamine and Chondroitin via supplements.
A Personal Testimonial
A close friend of mine gives her dog Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and she has seen great improvement in her dog’s mobility as a result.
Here is her testimonial:
Sadie takes Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
I ended up buying Nutra Paws Osteo-Pet Professional Joint Formula Glucosamine Chondroitin Double Strength for her. Each chewable tablet (about the size of a nickel, but thicker) has 500 mg of Glucosamine HCI, 400 mg of Chondroitin Sulfate, 33 mg of Ascorbate (Manganese Ascorbate) and 5 mg of Manganese (Ascorbate). It also has Brewer’s yeast, bacon flavor, dessicated liver and magnesium stearate.
Sadie loves them! The vet had suggested 500 mg of Glucosamine daily, so I give her 1 tablet a day, but the bottle says for her weight I could give two.
I saw an immediate improvement in Sadie. She was having trouble with her back legs and hips, scooting her forelegs further under herself to leverage off the floor. Not now. I hardly see any sign of lameness. The lameness has been a problem for her periodically ever since she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease about 9 years ago.
The vet said that dogs respond very well (better than us) to Glucosamine, and cats do even better. He wasn’t surprised to hear of the quick result.
Signs Your Dog Could Benefit From Supplements
If your dog frequently does any of these things, check with your vet to see if Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements would be beneficial for your dog:
- Is slow getting up after lying down
- Licks joints
- Won’t run or looks uncomfortable running
- Refuses to go up or down steps
- Reluctant to jump or play
Bonus Tips From A Veterinarian
Here’s some additional advice from R. Brooks Bloomfield, DVM as seen in a veterinarian newsletter:
Cosequin and Cosamin are brands of supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin. To many of us they are the gold standard of glucosamine products and they manufacture their supplements to pharmaceutical industry standards of purity … Cosamin is for people.
Glucosamine is supposed to improve the quality of joint fluid and has mild anti-inflammatory effects. It can also be tough on the tummy and can cause increased bleeding like aspirin, so it should always be given with food or on a full stomach.
Chondroitin comes as a salt and its molecular size varies by manufacturer. It does not get absorbed if too big and many suspect that most Chondroitin goes out the other end except in a few products like Cosequin, which is designed to get across.
I take Glucosamine and Chondroitin every day and sell it as well as recommend it to the majority of my canine patients. Over the years, it seems to have helped most of us significantly.
Dog-Safe Glucosamine & Chondroitin
- Dasuquin – #1 Vet Recommended (see also: ingredients list + coupon)
- Cosequin Glucosamine + Chondroitin For Dogs
- Cosamin Glucosamine + Chondroitin For Humans
- Other Glucosamine + Chondroitin Supplements For Dogs
- Other Human Grade Glucosamine + Chondroitin Supplements