What Is Glucosamine For Dogs? [They Might Need It More Than You Think]

Table of Contents

As doting dog lovers, we all want to do what is best for our pets. We want them to live their healthiest and most comfortable lives possible.

As dogs get older, as with people, some muscle and cartilage deterioration can occur, leading to things like joint pain, arthritis, and hip dysplasia. When our muscles and tissues weaken with old age, injuries can come easier as well. 

With a little bit of planning, awareness, and education, we can prevent these problems to drastically improve the quality of life for our canine life partners. 

Whether your dog has joint and mobility issues currently, or you are exploring the best proactive measures to take for the livelihood of your dog, we can help! So let’s dive in and discuss why glucosamine for dogs can lead to a full and active life, along with some other helpful tips. 

What Is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the body responsible for the upkeep of healthy cartilage. Cartilage is the rubbery stuff between your bones that protects and supports your joints. 

Sadly, as we age, the cartilage wears thin due to the decrease in glucosamine production. 

Connective tissues within ligaments can become brittle and rigid as time goes on, causing stiffness in the joints. 

Glucosamine For Dogs

Just as this happens to humans, it can occur in animals. Larger or overweight animals may experience faster degeneration because of added pressure to the joints and wearing the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.

The last thing any of us want is for our kids or dogs to be in a state of constant discomfort. Luckily, we can aid in the repair or proactive care of the degeneration of cartilage in dogs.

In supplement form, glucosamine is harvested from shellfish or shells. 

If your dog has a shellfish allergy, don’t fret, there are forms of glucosamine for dogs made in labs without animal products. 

Glucosamine most often comes in two forms:

  1. Glucosamine Sulfate
  2. Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Glucosamine Sulfate

Because glucosamine sulphate reaches stabilization with sodium chloride (salt), it makes up about 30% of the compound, which is something to be considered if suffering from high blood pressure. Have a chat with your vet before starting supplements or any medication for your dog.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Glucosamine hydrochloride is an amino sugar produced by the body naturally. It is a large part of building healthy cartilage and stimulates the growth of those cells. In supplement form, it has much less sodium than its sulphate counterpart. In turn, this form offers a more potent dose of glucosamine for dogs.

Honestly, the body will be happy to accept glucosamine joint regeneration in either form. It will just take a tad more of the glucosamine sulphate to equal the dosage of glucosamine hydrochloride.

Why Do Dogs Need Glucosamine?

Glucosamine can be a valuable addition to your dog’s healthy living plan. 

Along with weight management, nutrition, and regular vet checks, glucosamine supplements can encourage the regeneration of damaged cartilage and aid your pup as they grow and/or get them back to feeling like their spry self again.

Benefits of glucosamine for dogs include:

  1. Joint health 
  2. Overall Health 
  3. Pain relief from an injury 
  4. Pain relief from hip dysplasia
  5. Arthritis relief
Condition Signs Effects of Glucosamine
Ageing joints
  • Stiffness 
  • Slowing of activity
  • Weight gain
  • Licking sore joints
Repair and regeneration of damaged cartilage 
Overall Health
  • Hyper-activity
  • Racing and hunting 
Preventative joint care for dogs of all ages
  • Sprains from ligament damage
  • Strains from overextension of tendons
Offers relief of inflammation, and helps to repair sprains and strains 
Hip Disease
  • Bunny hopping
  • Trouble climbing stairs
  • A smaller range of motion than normal
  • Loss of muscle
  • Laxity in the hip joint (wobbly hind end)
Helps to lubricate joints and repair cartilage. 
  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Difficulty urinating in squatting position
  • Weight gain
Lubrication of joints and anti-inflammatory properties

Joint Health

If you’re over 30, you probably know the feeling of creaky knees or unstable ankles. These types of annoyances can happen to your dog as well. 

The slowing of glucosamine production in dogs begins around four or five years of age. 

The onset of the wearing away of cartilage and the stiffness and pain in joints can vary depending on the dog’s breed, size, and weight. You can do a few things to help your pet maintain joint health in their later years.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Create a low impact exercise plan
  • Add glucosamine to their diet

Maintain A Healthy Weight

We all love to spoil our pets. We get it. The way they’re looking at you with those sad puppy dog eyes, you’d think they’d never had anything tasty in their life. Don’t fall for it! (At least not too often).

The more excess weight a dog carries, the more likely they are to have joint pain and stiffness. 

So despite how guilty they make you feel with their pathetic face, know that you’re not doing them any favours by helping them gain weight. 

We can still spoil our kids with healthier treats. Some dogs love frozen veggies or all-natural jerky. You may only need to cut the portions down or change to specific feeding times instead of allowing free eating. 

Ask your vet about different foods or raw food diets. Remember, always allow a transition period when switching from one diet to another. 

Create A Low-Impact Exercise Plan

As your dog gets older, it may become more difficult for them to do certain things like jumping into the car or onto the couch or bed. They may seem a little lame after they have been lying down for an extended period of time, but they still need their exercise.

Have you heard the term “use it or lose it”? It’s true. Sitting around all day isn’t good for anyone. Whether you’re four or 80, you have to stay mobile to keep what you have. 

Keep it simple, and do not over-exercise your dog. Some low-impact activities for a dog suffering joint pain or arthritis are:

  • Walking – avoid pulling them as much as possible
  • Swimming – if your dog likes water. Some won’t even touch it!
  • Scavenger hunts – you need to have a little extra time to dedicate to your fur baby, but if you do—they’ll love it! Hide some treats around your house and have them walk around sniffing them out. You can start easy and then start hiding them in boxes or containers.

Add Glucosamine To Their Diet

Glucosamine is the building block of healthy cartilage. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has been known to assist in the repair and regeneration of damaged joints and cartilage. It can help to reawaken the active and vital pet you remember.

Pain Relief From An Injury

Extremely active dogs, you know, the ones that would run after the tennis ball for hours if you’d let them? They are great at maintaining a healthy weight. 

However, weight isn’t the only cause of a dog’s joint pain. For these active guys, an injury is more likely the cause. 

Let’s face it, super active dogs are fun but a little hard to deal with. The ball bounces in an unexpected direction, and without a thought, the dog tweaks its back leg to snatch the tennis ball before it can bounce twice. These dogs are candidates for straining and spraining. 

Both strains and sprains are painful and impede movement and mobility, but they differ in ways.


A sprain stretches out the ligaments that connect the bones. Imagine a bunch of pencils in a pencil bag with rubber bands around them. If the rubber band breaks, the pencils go from being held together to flopping around inside the bag. The ligaments are like the rubber bands connecting your bones. If they are stretched or damaged, they will cause pain and mobility issues. 

Sprains are prevalent in hunting dogs who run and jump with leaps and bounds. Tracking dogs are more at risk of jumping and landing incorrectly on uneven terrain. 

A sprain can happen from merely jumping off the couch or stepping in a crack in the pavement. Just as we humans trip on a rock or twist our ankle on a utility hole.


Between muscles and bones are tendons. Strains occur when the tendons overextend. Strains befall dogs when they stretch too much, too far or too often. They can also happen from falling or jumping.

Icy conditions are perfect for straining and spraining not only your dog’s hips and thighs but your own. Be careful, especially with a dog with pre-existing injuries, joint pain, or arthritis.

In cases of injuries, glucosamine for dogs can help alleviate pain and inflammation with consistent usage. You, the dog owner and best friend, should reintroduce movement and exercise slowly. The relief of inflammation is a huge first step in the direction back to an entirely virile pet. 

If your dog cannot walk or put any weight on one or more of its legs, call your vet immediately. They may have a more severe injury requiring surgery or prescription meds.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease that is in the bloodline of the dog. It is a hereditary disease that will most likely affect the next generation of puppies if breeding occurs. 

Spaying or neutering a pet is advantageous for several reasons – it can even prevent hip dysplasia cases in dogs.

Hip dysplasia causes laxity or “loose ligaments” in the hip joint. Non-muscular ligaments and the joint capsule, the fibrous membrane covering the joint itself, begin to stretch out. When this happens, the ball of the joint can pop in and out, causing pain and swelling. 

Owners of dogs suffering from hip dysplasia will often be encouraged to opt for ranging surgeries or even a full hip replacement. As in humans, this can sometimes be necessary to live a pain-free, active lifestyle. For many dogs, it isn’t.

Since the disease is hereditary, even puppies can show signs of hip dysplasia. Preventative surgeries in puppies are performed in hopes that full degeneration will slow as the dog ages. However, in mild to moderate cases, medical management and supplements can help immensely.

What Are The Signs Of Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

  1. Bunny hopping
  2. Difficulty climbing stairs
  3. Limited range of motion
  4. Loss of muscle in hindquarters
  5. Laxity in the hip joint or “wobbly hind end.”

Bunny Hopping

Bunny hopping is just like it sounds. Dogs will favour their front end because of the pain and instability of the hips. The dog will lead with the front legs and then hop the back legs to follow. Hence the term “bunny hopping.”

Difficulty Climbing Stairs

Dogs with any joint pain may have a hard time climbing the stairs. Stiff joints, pain, and a wobbly hind end make climbing the stairs uncomfortable, tiring, and scary for a dog. 

Limited Range Of Motion

When dogs suffer from hip dysplasia, they can’t move like their able-bodied peers without their ball joint popping in and out of the socket. Dogs may try to keep their cool and lie down often in a play situation. Quick turns and slipping can throw their hip out and cause soreness for days to come.

Loss Of Muscle In The Hindquarters

Since the dog favours its front legs to avoid pain in the back end, it may lose muscle in the hind end.

Glucosamine for dogs and chondroitin supplements can relieve the inflammation in joints and offer repair or regeneration of cartilage in the damaged hip joints.


Arthritis is when the cartilage wears away from the joint faster than the body can make it, and chronic inflammation occurs. Without cartilage to cushion the bones and joints, they instead rub against each other, causing painful and swollen joints. 

Early and preventative treatment can limit the deterioration of the cartilage before it gets too far. Since inflammation is the main offender behind arthritis’s pain, it makes sense to use anti-inflammatories to relieve the pain and swelling. 

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM all have anti-inflammatory attributes that can relieve arthritis symptoms without the addictive and woozy side effects of painkillers. 

Painkillers like gabapentin and tramadol may be recommended, but they can have unknown or risky side effects. There is little to no solid research about gabapentin in pets and whether it really helps.

Overall Health

Dogs may suffer from several ailments and conditions throughout their lives. Whether you have a hyperactive dog that wants to go outside every five minutes or a lazy oaf that you have to coax off of the couch with a treat way too often, they may benefit from glucosamine supplements. 

Glucosamine supplements for dogs can offer relief of pre-existing injuries and be used as a preventative measure against joint pain and cartilage degeneration as your dog gets older. 

The two most essential building blocks of healthy cartilage in mammals, glucosamine, and chondroitin, can offer several benefits to dogs’ proactive care.

What Is Chondroitin?

Chondroitin is a naturally occurring chemical in the body, mostly found in joint cartilage. Chondroitin gives cartilage its stretch by keeping it well hydrated. Studies show that the supplement can fight the enzymes that reduce collagen’s breaking down in the joints. 

When chondroitin is used in its high-quality form, it can decrease swelling and the hastiness of cartilage and joints’ breakdown in dogs and humans. Some have said that chondroitin provides more pain relief for joint pain than commonly prescribed NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can cause heart problems.

Chondroitin is traditionally manufactured using cow or shark cartilage, but it can also be made in a lab. However, it’s important to note that products that source ingredients from shark cartilage can have significant negative consequences on marine ecosystems, so we recommend avoiding the use of these products. 

What Are The Side Effects Of Chondroitin?

While most side effects are very mild, they are possible. You should always consult your vet before trying a new supplement. Some side effects can be more severe in dogs, dependent on their medical history.

Side effects of chondroitin may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Bloating & gas
  • Stomach upset & nausea
Condition Causes Treatment
Hip dysplasia
  • Heredity
  • Supplements
  • Medical management
  • Surgery
  • Heredity
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Supplements
  • Medical management
Joint pain
  • Old age
  • Weight gain
  • Large breeds
  • Supplements 
  • Weight control
  • Medical management
  • Slipping
  • Falling
  • Jumping
  • Medical management
  • Supplements
  • Rest for healing
  • Possible surgery

Studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin used together can reduce inflammation substantially with consistent use. Glucosamine with chondroitin for dogs makes for a potent and beneficial supplement that protects and repairs joints.

Common Glucosamine FAQs

“How can I keep my dog with joint pain as comfortable as possible?”

Here is where you can spoil your pet with things other than treats and food that may be adding to the problem

  • Maintain a healthy weight. The heavier the dog, the more they’re carrying on their joints. Weight control is the first and least invasive way to lighten the load on sore and stiff joints. Before you consider surgery or meds, consider a diet for your dog.
  • Light exercise. Don’t force anything too strenuous, for that could cause more damage, but regular exercise is necessary for a healthy weight, muscle tone, and general happiness.
  • Offer them a soft yet supportive bed on the floor. This way, they have the option to not jump up on the couch or bed if they don’t feel up to it. Some dogs prefer a stiffer bed than others, but most will appreciate their own cozy space with the rest of the family.
  • Elevate food and water bowls. Imagine having to hunch over every time you wanted a drink of water or a bite of food. Elevating food and water bowls can alleviate stress to joints and avoid bending the legs awkwardly.

“Can I Use Human Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements For My Dog?”

Though glucosamine and chondroitin are active ingredients in many human and animal joint supplements, it isn’t advised to give your pet human medications in any scenario. In the case of glucosamine and chondroitin, it’s just too risky to know what you are giving your dog. 

Human supplements can have a lot of weird additives that dogs may not be able to digest. Dogs may also have an allergic reaction to something on the label. Have you looked at the back of most human supplements? How would you even begin to find what is causing the reaction with all of those ingredients? 

“What Is The Dosage Of Glucosamine For Dogs?”

Glucosamine dosages can vary. Many supplements have a huge serving size, which is alright if you have a dog that eats anything. If you have a fussy dog that can smell a pill from a mile away and will dissect any piece of meat disguising it, you’d probably rather have a supplement that gets to the point. 

Many companies put everything in their supplements. From greens and tomatoes to fillers, and flours and everything in between. The ideology behind this being, why not?! Well, because it’s not necessary to have all these extra ingredients that don’t benefit your dog. 

These additional products result in a giant serving size that a picky eater isn’t going to touch. Then you’ve wasted both food and supplement. We’ve all been there.

“What Is MSM, And Why Is It In Joint Supplements?” 

MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane. It’s a chemical that is found in some plants, veggies and animal products. It can help make amino acids in the body due to its sulphuric composition. 

When used in combination with glucosamine for dogs, MSM can offer inflammation and pain-relieving benefits to dogs. 

“Where Can I Get Quality Canine Glucosamine Supplements?”

Glucosamine supplements for dogs vary greatly, and it can be tough to pick from the hundreds that are out there. 

Here are a few things to consider when seeking a glucosamine supplement for your dog.

  • The active ingredients: glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM.
  • Serving size – the smaller, the better for these choosy pets.
  • Meaningful yet straightforward ingredients – you probably don’t need every vitamin under the sun in your dog’s supplement.

Your dog gets vitamins from the nutritious and healthy foods that you feed them already. Taking up space with a bunch of unnecessary ingredients is just for show. Don’t bother.

Suggested Next Steps

We know you want to choose only the best supplements for your dog, one that offers only high-quality ingredients!

Integricare’s TRI-ACTA and maximum strength TRI-ACTA H.A. offers a concentrated dose of only active ingredients to guarantee that you can effectively integrate the healing benefits of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM into your dog’s diet with ease.

If you have any further questions about glucosamine for dogs or would like to discuss your pup’s needs further, get in touch with our friendly team.