Ask any senior dog owner about supplements for their dogs and they will likely react with one word: glucosamine. It’s an almost magical term for those of us who have had or currently own senior or elderly dogs.
These days, you can find glucosamine in a variety of canine-related products including treats, dog food, and dental chews. It’s seemingly everywhere, and you often pay an extra price for products that include it.
There’s one catch: those products may help your dog to some extent, but not as much as products where the glucosamine is combined with chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs may make a significant difference in the life of an older dog.
Glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs are like the Batman and Robin of the senior dog world, minus the masks and capes. Used singularly, they can offer some relief to your dog; used together in the proper and most effective form, they can put a spring in your old dog’s step and alleviate joint pain.
Better yet, they can help your dog mentally and emotionally by allowing him to continue to act and feel like a dog even in his golden years.
Let’s learn about these naturally occurring substances and how they can help your dog.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is an amino sugar compound that is produced naturally within the body, particularly in joints and cartilage. Smooth movement and lubrication of the joints is cartilage’s job.
Unfortunately, as a dog ages, the glucosamine production levels decrease causing the cartilage levels to break down. As a result, older dogs may develop osteoarthritis and have great difficulty moving and exercising. Glucosamine supplements can help replace some of the compound that is naturally lost in the aging process.
How Does Glucosamine Work?
When the cartilage in a dog’s joints wears down, the bones in the joint begin to rub against each other causing pain, inflammation, and loss of mobility. Added to a dog’s diet, glucosamine can alleviate these issues by reconstructing and maintaining the cartilage within the joints. Increased levels of glucosamine means stronger, healthier cartilage, less pain, and increased mobility.
Does My Dog Need Glucosamine?
As with humans, some dogs have more “wear and tear” on their bodies than others, and some have genetic backgrounds that work against them. If your dog has lived a highly active lifestyle, they might be more prone to developing arthritis at an early age. Certain large breed dogs are also likely to show signs of arthritis or hip dysplasia.
If your dog is a senior, look for these signs that he might be having some mobility troubles:
- abnormal gait
- lack of interest in walking or exercise
- weight gain
- difficulty standing
- trouble climbing stairs
Glucosamine alone can help improve some of these conditions, but combined with another compound like chondroitin, and your old dog will be acting like a puppy again.
Are there Side Effects to Glucosamine?
Thankfully, there are very few side effects of glucosamine in dogs. The side effects include insomnia, excessive thirst and urination, allergies, and fatigue. Veterinarians also caution the use of glucosamine in diabetic dogs due to its sugar-compound base. Otherwise, glucosamine is a safe supplement to include in your senior dog’s diet.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin, also known by its full name chondroitin sulfate, is a naturally occurring substance in cartilage that fights against harmful enzymes which damage joint fluids and cartilage. It encourages elasticity in the joints and water retention thereby providing necessary shock absorption and protection of the joint tissues.
Chondroitin has also shown promise as a pain inhibitor and anti-inflammatory supplement, lessening the pain your dog experiences and reducing inflammation in their joints.
How Does Chondroitin Work?
By providing more support and fluids to joints and cartilage, chondroitin can have a positive impact on your senior dog’s ability to be a dog. An older dog’s strength can increase because chondroitin suppresses pain inhibitors, allowing better joint mobility and increased amounts of exercise.
Chondroitin is one of the most commonly used supplements for older dogs, and research has shown that benefits might vary from dog to dog, but benefits will certainly be seen.
Does Chondroitin Have Side Effects?
Chondroitin is a safe supplement with virtually no side effects. Even in diabetic dogs, chondroitin has not shown any discernibly negative impact on a dog’s health.
Why are Glucosamine and Chondroitin stronger together?
Combining the power of glucosamine and chondroitin simply amplifies the effects that both compounds provide to an aging dog. Although both compounds are fine to supplement on their own, together they work to build, support, and protect cartilage. That’s exactly what your senior dog needs to retain mobility as they age.
It’s important to remember that glucosamine and chondroitin are not painkillers, and it can take upwards of six weeks to see full results from these supplements. But if your dog is struggling to chase that tennis ball or hop up next to you on the couch, it’s well worth the wait. For the best results, your dog will need to be on these supplements for the rest of their life.
How Much Glucosamine and Chondroitin Does My Dog Need?
Veterinary research shows that dogs needs an average of 25mg of glucosamine and chondroitin per pound of body weight each day. For example, if your dog is 65 pounds, you would need to give them a supplement of about 1,625mg daily.
While there is no researched evidence of dogs suffering from glucosamine and chondroitin overdoses or toxicity, it’s best to make sure you are giving your dog exactly what they need. Consult your veterinarian to get an accurate dosage that is designed to attend to your dog’s individualized needs.
How to Choose the Right Glucosamine and Chondroitin Source
Now that we’ve established what glucosamine and chondroitin can do together, we have to find the best sources of it to use. Both compounds are available in various forms, but which one is the best and most efficient?
Research has shown that oral and injectable supplements work fastest; in particular, injectable supplements transport the glucosamine and chondroitin directly to affected joints and cartilage. Injectable supplements are only accessible with a veterinarian’s approval. Oral supplements are available in liquid, capsule, powder, and chewable forms and can be purchased online or at any pet supply store.
Many pet food companies, recognizing the importance of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs, have added these supplements to both dry and wet dog foods and treats. While this is fine and well, the problem is that the amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin within these foods is usually too low to make the impact necessary to help your older canine.
What are the Best Power Duo Supplements Available for Your Dog?
Which form of these supplements is best for your dog? The answer to this question depends on your dog and what supplement forms they will likely eat without issue. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for dogs:
- Liquid glucosamine and chondroitin
- The liquid forms of these supplements are easy to measure.
- Liquid supplements are easy to add to kibble. Throw a bit of chicken broth in there with the supplements, and your dog will eat them right up.
- Consider TerraMax Pro’s Liquid Glucosomine w/Chondroitin as a liquid supplement. It packs a powerful 1,600mg of glucosamine and 1,200,mg of chondroitin as well as other important supplements for joint health.
- My dog Lucy is about to turn 5 years old, but because she is a mixed breed of Golden Retriever, Collie, and Brittany, and an active dog, I’m already thinking ahead about keeping her moving as she ages. TerraMax Pro’s supplement is the one I add to her kibble every day.
- The capsule form is ideal if you have a dog who is easy to pill.
- Capsules can also be opened to sprinkle the supplement on a dog’s food.
- Many capsules are reasonably priced.
- Nutrasense “Joint Health” Double Strength Glucosomine Plus Chondroitin Complex for Pets is an example of an effective capsule supplement (500mg glucosamine and 100mg chondroitin per capsule) that is easy on the wallet.
- Powder supplements are easy to measure and dispense.
- This type of supplement can easily be added to wet food or treats. You can even bake the product into some tasty dog treats!
- Many powder supplements come in tasty flavors for dogs, like peanut butter or beefy cheese.
- Infinite Pet Supplements All Natural Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs provides 250mg of glucosamine and 100mg of chondroitin per scoop. It also includes additional supplemental support in organic turmeric and MSM in a beef liver flavor.
- Chewables are one of the easiest ways to get your dog to eat supplements.
- This form of supplement is available in both hard and soft chews.
- Chewables come in a variety of tasty flavors for dogs.
- Deley Natural Advanced Arthritis Pain Relief for Dogs is an excellent soft chewable choice for senior dogs already suffering from osteoarthritis and comes in a chicken flavor. This supplement includes 312.5mg of glucosamine and 162.5mg of chondroitin per chew.
Determining which form of supplement is best for your dog depends on your veterinarian’s recommendation and also your dog’s personal feelings on the matter. I give my dog Lucy the liquid supplement because she tends to turn her nose up at the pill and chewable forms. I guess she’s just picky that way!
Glucosomine and chondroitin supplements for dogs are a no-brainer.
If your senior dog is showing signs of slowing down, don’t hesitate to take them to the veterinarian and have a conversation about whether glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are right for them. Unless your dog has diabetes or a severe allergy, in all likelihood, your dog will get the go ahead to start taking these highly effective supplements.
Remember when your old dog used to bound up the stairs with little effort? Or when they would dash after that tennis ball in the backyard? Your senior dog can regain some of that youth and mobility with the help of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.