Ingredient Spotlight - Glucosamine

Ingredient Spotlight - Glucosamine

As the years pass and your beloved four-legged friend reaches old age, they face some of the same challenges that people do, such as arthritis. In fact, one in five adult dogs will get arthritis, with 80% of dogs over the age of eight having to deal with this ailment. You may have heard about glucosamine and how it can benefit dogs dealing with arthritis or other joint related issues. That’s why we’ve compiled this article on glucosamine to provide you with the most relevant information on the subject. You’ll want to bookmark this page so that you can easily access this information in the future.

What is Glucosamine?

Chemical structure of Glucosamine.

In short, glucosamine is an amino sugar that naturally occurs in the body. Its primary purpose is to aid in producing organic materials that allow your dog’s bones and joints to work as they should. Tendons, cartilage, and glycosaminoglycans are just a few of the materials that directly benefit from glucosamine. Found naturally in humans and animals, glucosamine assists in the formation of molecules from cartilage, which is the cushiony region found between healthy joints. Glucosamine is vital for healing the ravages of time in joints, but the body creates less and less of the substance as we age. As a result, bones in direct contact with joint sockets may rub against one other, causing friction, irritation, discomfort, and diseases such as osteoarthritis.

The Three Types of Glucosamine

The three most common kinds of glucosamine found in dietary supplements are glucosamine hydrochloride, glucosamine sulfate, and N-acetyl-glucosamine. The type most often employed in clinical studies is glucosamine sulfate, which is also the naturally occurring form present in the body.

Glucosamine Sulfate

This is the most common type you will find in dietary supplements. It can be produced synthetically or extracted from the shells of crabs, lobster, clams, and other shellfish (you’ll need to make sure your pooch doesn’t have an allergy to shellfish before using). In layman’s terms, it is glucosamine that is bound to sulfur. It’s garnered some attention in the research sector given that glucosamine sulfate supplementation does a terrific job of maintaining joint health in dogs. It also helps with slowing the breakdown of the spongy area found between healthy bones known as the synovial membrane.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Just the same as glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride is extracted from shellfish, with the primary difference being that it doesn’t have sulfur and is much less effective. Unlike glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride is usually obtained from alternative sources that aren’t shellfish. While most of the glucosamine research has focused on glucosamine sulfate, there is some evidence that glucosamine hydrochloride has similar benefits concerning joint health. This form may also be an alternative for dogs with shellfish allergies that are looking for non-shellfish sources. Make sure you thoroughly read the ingredients and warnings labels before administering any supplements to your pup.

N-Acetyl-Glucosamine

N-acetyl glucosamine is a unique compound that’s composed of glucosamine and acetic acid. It’s commonly taken to help maintain joint tissue, similar to that of the other types of glucosamine. Two of its key benefits are that it aids in digestive health and that it slows the aging of the skin. Furthermore, the acetic acid it’s composed of is a much more complex compound when compared to the sulfur or chloride that’s in other types of glucosamine.

Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs

 Osteoarthritis definition with pill and syringe.

The slowed production of glucosamine as canines age leads to more wear and tear of the bone’s epiphyses (the expanded ends of long bones). Which, of course, results in all types of pain and discomfort. In this section, we’ll briefly go over the three major benefits that glucosamine has to offer canines.

Slows Down Symptoms Related to Arthritis

As previously stated, arthritis affects a large number of dogs. Once arthritis begins to set in, the cartilage and synovial fluid that covers the bone’s spheroid joint and acts as a shock absorber starts to break down. This can easily be identified by any discomfort your dog may be experiencing while walking. Glucosamine promotes cartilage formation and thickens synovial fluid, increasing mechanical joint function and decreasing any arthritic development. This means that your precious pooch will have to deal with less discomfort and difficulty moving around.

Pain Relief

Dog limping as it walks down a gravel road.

When your dog's joints aren't properly recovering from their natural depreciation over time, they are likely to be in some sort of pain and discomfort. This could be from joint degeneration associated with osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis found in dogs) or the pain that stems from rheumatoid arthritis. The oral administration of glucosamine sulfate has been shown to give some pain relief for dogs suffering from osteoarthritis as well as arthritis. Despite no discernible reduction in inflammation or the amount of swollen, painful joints.

Repairs Joint Damage

 Cartoon inflammation on a dog's front leg.

Joint stiffness can occur as a result of inflammation caused by overworked joints with weak cartilage or insufficient synovial fluid. This inflammation can limit your dog's movement, making it difficult for them to jump up and down from the bed, as well as making stairs a huge obstacle for them. Glucosamine does more than just relieve your dog's suffering. It can also improve their range of motion and the number of physical activities they can engage in at home and when they’re out amongst elements.

How Much Glucosamine Should I Give My Dog?

As with most medications, the amount of glucosamine you give your dog primarily depends on their weight. So large dogs such as Great Danes and German Shepherds will require a large dose. Whereas smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians will require a smaller dose. Another key factor in how much to give your pup is the severity of their condition. Now, when it comes to larger dog breeds, you'll normally want to start them on a higher dose so they can reach a therapeutic level. Once you begin to notice signs of improvement, you'll want to gradually reduce their dose over time. Veterinarians will recommend administering around 20mg of glucosamine per pound of your pooch’s weight. Here's a quick breakdown of the recommended dosage for dogs of all sizes:

  • Under 25lbs – 250-500 mg
  • 25lbs to 50lbs – 500 mg
  • 50lbs to 90lbs – 1,000 mg
  • 90lbs Plus – 1,500 mg

As these are merely suggestions, we still highly recommend that you contact your local vet before starting your dog on glucosamine or any new medication for that matter.

Can Dogs Take Glucosamine Meant for Humans?

Don't give glucosamine intended for humans to your dog.

While there are some people and websites out there that will tell you that giving glucosamine to your dog that’s meant for humans is completely fine, that’s not 100% true. There are some glucosamine supplements for humans that will have the same active ingredients as those exclusively made for dogs. The problem isn't with the glucosamine itself, but with the inactive ingredients such as sweeteners that are added to enhance the flavor of glucosamine meant for humans. This can range from garlic extracts to natural grape flavors and Xylitol (commonly found in chewing gum), all of which have no negative effects on humans. But in dogs, that’s a completely different story. Xylitol, for example, can prove fatal for most dogs even if they ingest a small amount. That’s why, no matter what you’re giving your pooch, you ensure that you’re only giving your dog products that were specifically formulated for them.

Final Breakdown

As much as we’d like to turn back the hands of time for our precious pooch, that simply isn’t an option. What we can do is utilize everything in our power to ensure they live a pain-free life. And glucosamine can be the difference between night and day concerning their health. It’s important to note that there isn’t one single cure-all solution that works for all dogs. Depending on your dog’s particular condition, they may require a glucosamine supplement that contains other healing compounds. This is why what worked for your friend’s Dalmatian, may not work for your Golden Retriever. And, it might not be easy or fun, but there are options out there that can help. Our EASE supplements for dogs with glucosamine, for example, are an excellent option if you want a no-nonsense, easy-to-administer solution. Whatever route you choose, you'll be pleasantly pleased by the results after you start a glucosamine regimen for your favorite four-legged friend.

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