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Arthritis affects many dogs. It develops as the cartilage between their joints gradually wears away, which allows the ends of the bones to rub together. That can lead to significant pain, difficulty getting up and walking around, and joint stiffness.
One of the top causes of arthritis in dogs is normal wear and tear over time. Conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, joint injuries, obesity, and others can also contribute to its development.
While there is no cure for arthritis, joint health supplements for dogs can help ease pain and improve mobility. One such supplement is glucosamine.
Glucosamine is a substance that occurs naturally in a dog’s body. It plays an essential role in producing the building blocks of a dog’s joints, including the tendons, ligaments, synovial fluid, and cartilage. In short, glucosamine is vital for maintaining healthy, properly functioning joints.
As dogs get older, their bodies’ natural production of glucosamine slows. It takes longer for their joints to repair after normal daily activities, such as walks or playing with their pet parents and other pet friends.
Glucosamine supplements are one of the more well-known “ neutraceuticals.” In other words, they’re a type of supplement that isn’t an essential nutrient but may provide health benefits and offer some nutritional value. Other neutraceuticals include omega-3s and antioxidants.
Supplements containing glucosamine (typically shellfish-derived) provide a dog’s body with extra glucosamine reserves. They help stimulate cartilage growth and repair and thicken synovial fluid, making it easier for dogs with arthritis and joint pain to move more normally.
Additional benefits of joint supplements include:
Reducing inflammation: Overworking joints with too-thin cartilage or not enough cartilage can trigger inflammation, leading to stiffness. That stiffness affects a dog’s mobility, making it harder to get up, climb stairs, or walk around. Glucosamine helps reduce inflammation in a dog’s joints, which can improve their range of motion.
Easing joint pain: By boosting the repair of joint cartilage, glucosamine supplements for dogs may alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with joint damage, hip dysplasia, and other structural changes.
Works with other natural compounds: Many pet parents will find supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, another substance that may help stimulate cartilage repair.
Generally safe for long-term use: Glucosamine supplements provide dogs with a bit more of a substance their bodies produce naturally. For the most part, they’re safe for most dogs to take long-term.
Glucosamine supplements aren’t only for senior dogs with arthritis. Pet parents can give these supplements to younger dogs to slow the progression of degenerative joint disease and maintain joint health.
While rare, glucosamine supplements may have some potential side effects. The most common include:
Increased thirst (and urination), which occurs more frequently with higher doses
Allergies, particularly in dogs allergic to shellfish
Vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
Should a pet parent notice any of these symptoms, especially symptoms of an allergic reaction, they should consult with their primary vet or speak with a member of the Fuzzy veterinary team right away.
Arthritis maintenance is one of the most common reasons pet parents give their dogs glucosamine supplements. Symptoms that let pet parents know they might want to consider joint medicine for dogs include:
Difficulty getting up from laying down
Joint stiffness while walking, especially after getting up from sleeping
Avoiding stairs, jumping on furniture, or getting into/out of the car
Reluctance to go on walks or wanting to take shorter strolls outside
Pet parents with large and giant breed dogs may also consider a joint health supplement. Due to their size, these breeds have a greater risk of developing arthritis and other joint issues. At a younger age, glucosamine may help slow joint damage and reduce the dog’s risk of severe pain and other symptoms.
There are several joint health supplements on the market that contain glucosamine. Many of them have other joint health-promoting ingredients, too. Supplements include:
VetClassics ArthriEase-Gold: This supplement contains a combination of glucosamine chondroitin for dogs, green-lipped mussel, MSM, and hyaluronic acid to support connective tissues, cartilage health, and joint movement and lubrication.
Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM: Combines glucosamine, chondroitin, and ASUs to support healthy joints.
Myos Canine Muscle & Mobility Soft Chews: In addition to glucosamine, these soft chews contain collagen, essential amino acids, turmeric, and blueberry to support healthy joints, bones, muscles, and skin.
Glucosamine supplements may provide pain relief and improve the quality of life of dogs with arthritis and other joint issues. They may also slow the progression of cartilage degradation, allowing aging dogs to age more gracefully (and comfortably). However, not all supplements are the same. Pet parents should read product labels and consult with a vet if they have any additional questions.