Glucosamine for Dogs - Side Effects and BenefitsDog owners dealing with canine arthritis will often be advised to give glucosamine for dogs.

Glucosamine has quickly became the most popular substance to fight arthritis in dogs as well as many other joint-related health problems.

Today, we’re seeing glucosamine being added to everything for our dogs, from treats and dog foods to even dental chews and toys.

So how effective is glucosamine for dogs, and does it have any side effects? Let’s take a quick look.

 

What is glucosamine for dogs?

Glucosamine supplements for dogs are some of the most popular over-the-counter items sold in the veterinary field.

They can be sold alone or in combination with other ingredients, two of the most popular being glucosamine chondroitin for dogs and glucosamine with MSM.

Glucosamine is also often added to dog food, dog treats and is largely a very popular additive for the purpose of reducing pain in arthritic dogs, repairing cartilage damage, healing wounds and similar.

Glucosamine itself, which is also sometimes referred to as chitosamine, is an amino sugar which occurs naturally in your dog’s body, primarily in his cartilage and some types of joints in his skeleton.

Cartilage is a supportive tissue that helps joints move smoothly, but as your dog ages his body uses glucosamine in the cartilage faster than it can be produced. The cartilage then starts to break down and arthritis occurs in the joints, particularly in the legs and hips.

Using supplements of glucosamine for dogs for may help to keep arthritic pain at bay, and keep your dog mobile because glucosamine supplements assist your dog’s body in creating new cartilage and repairing damaged cartilage.

In addition to cartilage, glucosamine is also found in your pet’s claws, tendons, eyes, skin, bones, heart valves and ligaments. It’s an important part of canine’s overall health.

Glucosamine carries anti-inflammatory properties. When any part of the connective tissue is injured, special cells called fibroblasts produce large amounts of hyaluronic acid to activate healing.

Glucosamine is one of the building blocks of hyaluronic acid, but some studies have proposed that glucosamine becomes depleted in an aging dog’s body and therefore limiting during extensive wound repair [1].

Studies have shown how glucosamine supplements for dogs may counteract this depletion and continue to allow the increased production of hyaluronic acid [2].

Science on glucosamine applications

Currently, glucosamine for dogs is the most popular and highly recommended ingredient among all supplements for dogs.

This is primarily due to pet owners reporting positive results from using glucosamine-based dog supplements, as well as a few studies suggesting this supplement to work well [3].

It’s important to note that some studies have demonstrated positive effects of glucosamine in felines [4].

Taken into account all current scientific data at the time of this writing, it still difficult to conclude whether the supplement will be 100% effective for your dogs and will improve the case of arthritis in canines.

A few weak studies have also suggested that glucosamine isn’t as effective for dogs with arthritis [5]. More research is definitely needed to draw foolproof conclusions.

Currently, there’s enough scientific data to conclude that glucosamine can potentially be effective for relieving the pain of osteoarthritis in dogs, even if this doesn’t relate to all cases and all clinical trials.

Evidence on using glucosamine for dogs

Glucosamine for Dogs and Side Effects and Benefits

Researchers and scientists have already observed and reviewed glucosamine for dogs side effects and benefits referencing scientific data.

Some of the better articles on the subject include Dr Narda Robinson‘s review of scientific data, and her conclusion of glucosamine used in dogs:

Although the evidence on glucosamine remains contradictory, there does appear to be some value and little risk. Not ready to abandon a product that could very well help and likely not hurt, this evidence-based practitioner will continue to mention glucosamine as one of many options for multimodal analgesia for OA patients and potential disease modifying OA benefits as well.” – Dr. Robinson, DVM, DO, Dipl. ABMA, FAAMA, oversees complementary veterinary education at Colorado State University.

Bioavailability: Clinically relevant doses of glucosamine ensure levels measurable in both plasma and synovial fluid, and substantially higher levels of glucosamine has been observed to reach levels of synovial fluid with crystalline glucosamine sulfate [6].

Cartilage repairing: Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans which are the primary components of a joint cartilage [7], and glucosamine supports cartilage regrowth by inhibiting cartilage degradation and stimulating proteoglycans synthesis [8].

For dogs and cats: A few studies have demonstrated statistically significant improvements in scores pertaining to pain in arthritic dogs, as wellas weight-bearing and severity of the condition after day 70 of administering glucosamine, and increase in physical activity in cats [9, 10].

Inflammation: Glucosamine has been shown to reduce the release of inflammatory mediators [11].

More scientific breakdowns and study references related to glucosamine for dogs side effects and benefits can be found in the following articles and dog supplement reviews:

Benefits of glucosamine for dogs

Glucosamine for Dogs for canine arthritis

Properties of glucosamine mean it is administered as a supplement for several conditions in dogs, including and most often for:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Disc degeneration
  • Faster healing and repairing of wounds
  • Reduced scarring

Glucosamine’s popularity among arthritic dogs can be largely attributed to it being praised as a great support for joints in humans.

While there’s a great deal of awareness of the positive effects of glucosamine in people, some scientists argue whether the positive effects of glucosamine in humans are largely placebo-based and how foolproof clinical trials are.

If the positive effects are truly placebo-based, as effective as placebo may be, it would not work the same way with dogs as it does with humans.

Quick effects

One of the purported benefits of glucosamine is the relatively short time span for its effects.

A large majority of pet owners have claimed to observe their dogs to have reduced symptoms of arthritis and less pain within 8 weeks of starting daily glucosamine supplements.

However, this has not been supported by any scientific research.

Using human glucosamine supplement

Another benefit of glucosamine is that you can supplement your dog with glucosamine intended for humans, which is often less expensive and easier to find.

However, the difference between glucosamine that is produced for humans and that for dogs is the amount per tablet you have to adjust for your dog’s weight. Also, vitamin C is usually added to the canine formula of glucosamine supplement.

When using a human version of glucosamine with the dog, your pet should be given 250 mg per 10 lbs, twice a day. Remember that if you are going to divide the amount to be given, it is much easier to split a tablet than divide a liquid form of glucosamine.

Sources and availability

Glucosamine is obtained from the shells of shellfish. This means it has the benefit of being inexpensive and readily available.

As a dog supplement ingredient, it is available in several forms adding to its convenience for different canine breeds and sizes of dogs.

Side effects of glucosamine for dogs

Although glucosamine is very widely used and reported to be a very safe dog supplement for a short-term treatment of arthritic pain in dogs, it can have adverse side effects. With rare exceptions, these are mild and easy to treat.

Gastrointestinal

Mild side effects of glucosamine supplement for dogs include vomiting or abnormal feces production (either diarrhea or constipation).

To decrease any adverse side effects of glucosamine, it can be as simple as reducing the amount of glucosamine given. Providing supplement with dog food rather than by itself may also help with some side effects.

Dogs who start glucosamine treatment often require higher doses than normal for the supplement to begin to show beneficial effects. This can cause some dogs to show symptoms of over-supplementation (e.g. a reduced appetite, gastrointestinal complications). These symptoms are likely to be lessened when the dosage is reduced later in treatment.

Allergies

Severe side effects of glucosamine include allergic reactions in case your dog is allergic to shellfish.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may be as mild as your dog chewing at his feet or as severe as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock requires immediate treatment by a veterinarian.

If your dog has a shellfish allergy, glucosamine dog supplements that are made from corn or other plant products are also available.

Unfortunately, this kind of glucosamine is more difficult to find than shellfish-based products, and haven’t been a subject to rigorous scientific research.

Hematological

A blood-thinning effect can occur if the glucosamine is paired with chondroitin (another dog supplement ingredient), or heightened blood sugar levels may occur.

Interaction with painkillers

You must stop giving your dog painkillers once you start glucosamine supplementation regimen.

Alternatively, the amount that your dog is receiving should be reduced to avoid potential complications, although avoiding mixing the two together would be more advisable.

Life time treatment

Even though this might not be considered as a side effect, glucosamine supplements do not cure the effects of arthritis.

Glucosamine for dogs only return the level of glucosamine in your canine to approach what was previously normal. This means your dog must continue to take glucosamine for the rest of his life in order to experience the relief from arthritic pains.

[toggle title=”References“]
  1. Uitterlinden EJ, Koevoet JL, Verkoelen CF, Bierma-Zeinstra SM, Jahr H, Weinans H, Verhaar JA, van Osch GJ. Glucosamine increases hyaluronic acid production in human osteoarthritic synovium explants. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008 Sep 11;9:120. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-120.
  2. R Braham, B Dawson, C Goodman, and L McNaughton. The effect of glucosamine supplementation on people experiencing regular knee pain. Br J Sports Med. 2003 Feb; 37(1): 45–49. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.37.1.45
  3. McCarthy G, O’Donovan J, Jones B, McAllister H, Seed M, Mooney C. Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. Vet J. 2007 Jul;174(1):54-61. 
  4. Lascelles BD, DePuy V, Thomson A, Hansen B, Marcellin-Little DJ, Biourge V, Bauer JE. Evaluation of a therapeutic diet for feline degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med. 2010 May-Jun;24(3):487-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0495.x
  5. Moreau M, Dupuis J, Bonneau NH, Desnoyers M. Clinical evaluation of a nutraceutical, carprofen and meloxicam for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. Vet Rec. 2003 Mar 15;152(11):323-9.
  6. Meulyzer M, Vachon P, Beaudry F, Vinardell T, Richard H, Beauchamp G, Laverty S. Comparison of pharmacokinetics of glucosamine and synovial fluid levels following administration of glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008 Sep;16(9):973-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.01.006
  7. Budsberg SC, Bartges JW. Nutrition and osteoarthritis in dogs: does it help? Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2006 Nov;36(6):1307-23, vii.
  8. Naito K1, Watari T, Furuhata A, Yomogida S, Sakamoto K, Kurosawa H, Kaneko K, Nagaoka I. Evaluation of the effect of glucosamine on an experimental rat osteoarthritis model. Life Sci. 2010 Mar 27;86(13-14):538-43. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2010.02.015
  9. McCarthy G, O’Donovan J, Jones B, McAllister H, Seed M, Mooney C. Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. Vet J. 2007 Jul;174(1):54-61
  10. Lascelles BD, DePuy V, Thomson A, Hansen B, Marcellin-Little DJ, Biourge V, Bauer JE. Evaluation of a therapeutic diet for feline degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med. 2010 May-Jun;24(3):487-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0495.x
  11. Meulyzer M, Vachon P, Beaudry F, Vinardell T, Richard H, Beauchamp G, Laverty S. Joint inflammation increases glucosamine levels attained in synovial fluid following oral administration of glucosamine hydrochloride. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Feb;17(2):228-34. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2008.06.018
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