Healthy diets

Glucosamine For Dogs - Definition, Benefits & Supplements

Cristina Pascual
By Cristina Pascual, Veterinaria. Updated: January 29, 2024
Glucosamine For Dogs - Definition, Benefits & Supplements

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Glucosamine is an amino sugar naturally produced in a dog's body. It has been linked to various functions, with a possibility it is beneficial to building articular cartilage. Its use as a supplement has led it to be incorporated into dog food specialized for dogs with joint and bone problems. These include diseases such as osteoarthritis, an inflammation of the joints. When combined with other molecules such as chondroitin or some vitamins, it may produce a synergistic effect that enhances its benefits.

At AnimalWised, we look into glucosamine for dogs. We understand more about what it is, how it works, how it is administered and whether it might be beneficial for your dog.

  1. What is glucosamine for dogs?
  2. Benefits of glucosamine for dogs
  3. Does glucosamine for dogs work?
  4. Contraindications of glucosamine in dogs
  5. Glucosamine food supplements for dogs

What is glucosamine for dogs?

Glucosamine is an amino sugar (i.e. a sugar molecule in which a hydroxyl group has been replaced by an amino group) that occurs naturally in the body. It is a component of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are found in joints, tendons, ligaments, skin and blood vessels.

GAGs are long-chain molecules capable of retaining water inside contain glucosamine in their structure. This means they play an important role in maintaining the water concentration of the articular cartilage, a type of cartilage which can be found on the articular surfaces of bones. It lies within the synovial joints of bones. Articular cartilage is essential in adapting to pressure changes in the joint, provides cushioning and absorbs the impact of mechanical stress.

Deterioration of the articular cartilage is characterized by a loss of glycosaminoglycans. The result is a loss of ability to cushion and absorb the pressure caused by movement impact in the dog's joints. When this happens, degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis in dogs.

Benefits of glucosamine for dogs

Since glucosamine is related to the production of glycosaminoglycans, some believe it may be beneficial to a dog's joint health. Glucosamine supplements, whether in food or administered on their own, may be able to help with GAG production and stimulate the articular cartilage. The theory is that this will have a positive effect on the joint health of our dog. This is particularly useful in senior dogs which are more prone to joint wastage.

Some research suggests that dogs with degenerative joint pathologies such as osteoarthritis may benefit from the administration of glucosamine in reducing symptoms. These symptoms include pain, inflammation and stiffness. They suggest this may be due to benefits it creates with the joint structure, in turn reducing the severity of the disease. Additionally, glucosamine inhibits nitric oxide synthesis. This is beneficial as nitric oxide is involved in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.

Benefits of glucosamine combined with other compounds

The proposed benefits should be able to work with glucosamine alone, but there are supplements combined with other compounds available. These are thought to enhance their effect and include:

  • Glucosamine + chondroitin: in products that combine chondroitin with glucosamine for dogs, there is a synergistic effect that may help to mitigate pain and improve joint mobility in dogs with joint pathologies.
  • Glucosamine + vitamins: in products with vitamins and glucosamine for dogs there is also a synergistic action that may also having anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects on the joints, as well as provide the benefits to other areas provided by the particular vitamins.

There are also products that combine glucosamine with mucopolysaccharides, manganese ascorbate, and other substances that may help relieve joint pain and rebuild degenerated cartilage.

Does glucosamine for dogs work?

As stated above, there is some research to suggest glucosamine can have benefits on joint health. This is due to its influence on glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). In humans, these studies have suggested that glucosamine sulfate may have some analgesic benefits, although related compounds such as glucosamine hydrochloride had little effect. The glucosamine benefit is mainly recorded when incorporated with chondroitin sulfate[1].

However, none of the research into glucosamine is conclusive. Even the most supportive reports state they require further testing. Since the FDA considers glucosamine a supplement, it does not undergo the same rigorous testing processes as medications. Animal research is even more lacking, so we cannot state with any comprehensiveness the benefits of glucosamine for dogs.

We do know that there are little side effects in giving glucosamine supplements to dogs, especially in food. Many veterinarians will recommend using this type of food for older dogs. The potential benefits may help and there shouldn't be any significant harm caused if not. Regardless, always speak to your veterinarian before giving your dog any kind of medication or supplement. They will be able to bests assess your dog's needs.

Contraindications of glucosamine in dogs

As referenced above, glucosamine is a relatively safe molecule. Studies with this compound show that the adverse effects that occur in patients treated with glucosamine do not differ significantly from those treated with a placebo.

However, before administering glucosamine to our dog we must take into account several important considerations. Glucosamine can cause hyperglycemia in dogs due to glucagon stimulation and insulin suppression. This effect may be especially important in diabetic patients or those at risk of diabetes (such as dogs suffering from obesity). In cases of diabetic dogs, the use of glucosamine could be contraindicated.

Similarly, glucosamine should be avoided in patients with clotting problems, especially if they are treated with warfarin. The reason is that it delays blood clotting. Remember the importance of consulting with your trusted veterinarian before administering any supplement to your dog to avoid the appearance of unwanted side effects.

Glucosamine For Dogs - Definition, Benefits & Supplements - Contraindications of glucosamine in dogs

Glucosamine food supplements for dogs

Glucosamine can be absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract in dogs (with an absorption rate of 87%), making it a compound that can be administered orally. Glucosamine is a molecule that is naturally present in the exoskeleton of crustaceans such as shrimp, prawns, prawns, lobsters or crabs. It can also be found on the ears, muzzle, or joints of animals. However, these foods are not usually given to pets because they are difficult to chew and digest.

If after consultation with your veterinarian, you decide to administer glucosamine to your dog to prevent or treat osteoarthritis, it is best to administer it as a dietary supplement. Another option is to administer it through a specially-formulated feed for dogs with joint pathologies. These types of feed should still be of good quality and meet all the other nutritional requirements for dogs.

How to find glucosamine in feed and supplements

Generally, glucosamine supplements contain the molecule in the form of salts. The most common are glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. Although glucosamine hydrochloride provides the highest amount of glucosamine per unit of weight, glucosamine sulphate appears to provide greater benefits. We can also find it in the form of N-acetylglucosamine, although this appears to be less effective than both.

Regardless of whether you decide to provide glucosamine as a supplement or if it is included in their, it is important to consider the concentration in each case. In this way, we can provide a dose that is adjusted to the weight and specific needs of your dog. To find out the amount required for your dog, you will need to speak o your veterinarian who will consider all the nutritional needs of your dog.

For more general information on canine nutrition, take a look at our video on what a dog should eat:

If you want to read similar articles to Glucosamine For Dogs - Definition, Benefits & Supplements, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.


1. Aragon, C. L., Hofmeister, E. H., & Budsberg, S. C. (2007). Systematic review of clinical trials of treatments for osteoarthritis in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 230(4), 514-521.

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Glucosamine For Dogs - Definition, Benefits & Supplements