Information About Glucosamine for Dogs

Glucosamine is a supplement that promotes joint health. It is used to reduce the degradation in joints or reverse the damage already done.


Glucosamine is an essential component of cartilage, and as a supplement, it is designed to promote cartilage growth and health. Having strong healthy cartilage is critical for a joint to work properly and to minimize joint pain.


Many dog owners have found that glucosamine builds cartilage, reduces arthritis pain and improves the mobility of their dog’s joints.

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What is Glucosamine for Dogs?

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is an essential building block for the proteins and lipids found in bones, cartilage and bone marrow. It is a molecule made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Because glucosamine is an essential building block of cartilage, it has been widely used to slow or reverse the effects of arthritis. The goal of using glucosamine as a supplement is to slow cartilage degeneration and stimulate the repair of cartilage. There are also reports that glucosamine can improve the body's production of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant within a joint that allows the joint to move smoothly. Synovial fluid in joints produce a coefficient of friction that is 14 times slipperier than a waxed wood ski on ice, and four times slipperier than Teflon.

Glucosamine supplements often pair glucosamine with another molecule to form a salt. A salt is a combination of an acid and base, such as sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl), the elements that make up ordinary table salt (NaCl). The glucosamine salts are used to make it easier for the body to absorb and use glucosamine. Some of the common forms of glucosamine salts are glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and n-acetyl glucosamine. This supplement is then given to dogs, as well as other animals that can possibly develop joint problems.


Glucosamine, Wikipedia (accessed 09/2014)
Coefficients of Friction, Physics Link, (accessed 8/2011)
What Is Glucosamine And Chondroitin And How Effective Are They In Treating Pain Resulting From Osteoarthritis?, ABC News, Ricardo Cruciani, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, November 17, 2008.



Is Glucosamine Safe for Dogs?

Glucosamine is a natural building block in bones and cartilage. It is found in animals, fish, plants and fungi.

Traditional treatments for joint pain in dogs often involves giving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help ease swelling and manage pain. However, NSAIDs only help to ease symptoms of arthritis in dogs and do not address the underlying problem of joint damage disease progression.

Additionally, long-term use of NSAIDs can cause upset stomach, seizures, as well as liver and kidney toxicity. Thus, more veterinarians and dog owners are choosing a more natural approach to joint care for their dogs with fewer side effects.

Because of the important role glucosamine plays in cartilage, it has been used for more than 20 years as a supplement to promote joint health.

Glucosamine can be used safely for dogs as alternative to potentially dangerous NSAIDs with two exceptions:

  • Dogs with diabetes, as glucosamine is sugar-based
  • Dogs with bleeding issues, as glucosamine may increase blood clotting times in dogs

Using Glucosamine to Prevent Canine Osteoarthritis, Whole Dog Journal, (accessed 11/2016).
Glucosamine & Chondroitin for Hip Dysplasia & Arthritis in Dogs, Doctors Foster and Smith, (accessed 8/2016)


What are the Side Effects of Glucosamine in Dogs?

Glucosamine supplements have been given to dogs on a widespread basis and studied in detail. Very few side effects have been observed, with most dogs experiencing no adverse reactions.

The side effects that have been reported are typically vomiting and diarrhea. These are usually mild and subside within a few days of adding glucosamine supplements. In the rare cases where these side effects persist, they can often be alleviated by giving the dog the glucosamine in its food, or by splitting the dose between morning and night. No long-term adverse effects have been reported in dogs taking glucosamine.

As with all dietary supplements and medications, consult your vet before introducing something new to your dog.


Glucosamine & Chondroitin for Hip Dysplasia & Arthritis in Dogs, Doctors Foster and Smith, (accessed 11/2016)


What Does Glucosamine do in Dogs?

Glucosamine is a critical building block for bones and cartilage. It is essential for healthy joints. In dogs (and humans), glucosamine supplements are designed to improve and preserve joints.

One of the most significant goals of glucosamine for dogs is to stop the degradation of cartilage. Cartilage is critical to the function of a joint. It provides the cushion between bones and a slick surface to allow the joint to move smoothly. As cartilage degrades, the joint will fail to work properly and will become extremely painful. Glucosamine is designed to slow or stop this degradation.

For dogs with significant joint problems, it's a little late to worry about preventative treatments. Fortunately, some studies have found glucosamine can foster cartilage growth and repair. This growth can reverse the damage to joints and allow a dog to regain some of the functionality of their joints.

There have been reports that glucosamine can also improve the production of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant in a joint that allows the joint to move smoothly. Without adequate synovial fluid, joints do not function correctly, they will be painful, and the cartilage will wear down quickly. If glucosamine does stimulate the production of synovial fluid, this may explain some of the positive results reported by owners of arthritic dogs. Glucosamine supplements have been used to promote cartilage health and repair but may benefit joints with the production of synovial fluid as well.



Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Cartilage Metabolism in OA: Outlook on Other Nutrient Partners Especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Jerosch, Department of Orthopedics, Trauma Surgery and Sports Medicine, Johanna-Etienne Hospital, 41462 Neuss, Germany
Scintigraphic evaluation of dogs with acute synovitis after treatment with glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate.  Canapp SO JrMcLaughlin RM JrHoskinson JJRoush JKButine MD.  Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, USA



Glucosamine as an Arthritis Treatment for Dogs

A dog’s ability to make glucosamine declines as the dog gets older and approximately 1 in 5 dogs develop arthritis in their senior years. In extreme cases, the dog may not be able to sit down or stand up on his own due to the pain. A glucosamine supplement is designed to enable the dog to absorb more glucosamine and restore the cartilage in joints. Many dogs owners use glucosamine supplements to help slow or reverse the effects of arthritis.



Is Glucosamine for Dogs Natural?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar critical to the construction of bones and cartilage. It is also used to help cells maintain their structure. As a result, it is found in virtually every food, including meat, fish, shellfish, plants and fungi. In most foods, the amount of glucosamine is extremely low and bound to other molecules that make it difficult or impossible to absorb. There are a few concentrated sources of glucosamine where the glucosamine can be extracted through manufacturing processes and supplied in a form that dogs can absorb.

The shells of shellfish are one of the most concentrated sources of glucosamine. The glucosamine is bound in the chitin that makes up the shell, making the glucosamine difficult or impossible to absorb. Because of this, eating shrimp with the shell on will not provide glucosamine in a form that is usable. Manufacturing processes extract, refine and prepare glucosamine so that it can be easily ingested and absorbed.

Some grains, such as corn, contain sufficient amounts of glucosamine for it to be extracted through a fermentation process.

Bones and cartilage contain high concentrations of glucosamine, as this is a critical building block. Because of this, some have suggested that cooking meat with the bone may allow glucosamine to be absorbed by the meat, and in turn, the person or animal eating the meat, but there is no evidence supporting this.


What Is Glucosamine For, and Can It Help Dogs?, American Kennel Club, (accessed 11/2016)

Where Does Glucosamine for Dogs Come From?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar, and is used to construct bones and cartilage. Because of this, it is found in animals and fish. Glucosamine is used in some cellular structures that help cells maintain their shape. Plants and fungi can also contain glucosamine.

One of the most concentrated sources of glucosamine is in the shells of shellfish. Most glucosamine comes from chitin, a component of shellfish. The shellfish (often shrimp shells) are ground up and put in an acidic solution. The glucosamine is then isolated, concentrated, and cleaned. The glucosamine is then bound with a salt for stability and is shipped as a powder.

Glucosamine can also be derived from grains such as corn. A fermentation process with corn allows the extraction of the glucosamine.

Because most glucosamine is manufactured from shellfish, individuals with a shellfish allergy should use caution. The production process that separates and refines glucosamine is designed to remove all other components, including the proteins that trigger the shellfish allergic reaction. Despite this, glucosamine is manufactured in facilities with shellfish. Any cross contamination between the raw materials and the finished product, however unlikely, would pose a risk to a person with a shellfish allergy.


Where Does Glucosamine Come From? eHow, (accessed 11/2016)


How is Glucosamine for Dogs Made?

Glucosamine for Dogs is usually extracted from the shells of shellfish (lobster, crab, crawfish, shrimp, etc.).

The primary technique for making glucosamine hydrochloride is as follows:

  1. Grinding: The shellfish shells are ground into a fine particulate
  2. Reactor step: The ground shells are then mixed with hydrochloric acid (HCl) to cause Acid Hydrolysis of the shellfish chitin (chitin is the shell material containing glucosamine)
  3. Filtering: Glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) will precipitate out of the solution during the reaction step and the precipitate is then filtered
  4. Decoloring: The filtered Glucosamine HCL crystals are cleaned by dissolving the crystals in a solution of water and activated charcoal to remove any color
  5. Crystallization: The dissolved Glucosamine HCl is extracted from the water and formed into crystals
  6. Centrifugation: The glucosamine HCl crystals are separated and purified through a centrifuge
  7. Drying: The glucosamine HCl is dried, leaving pure glucosamine HCl, which looks like a white powder

This is just one process for manufacturing one of the glucosamine forms. The three primary forms of glucosamine are glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and n-acetyl glucosamine. Due to the differences in chemistry, the production process of each will be slightly different.


Proposal for making a “Substantial Equivalence” notification for Non-Shellfish Glucosamine Hydrochloride under Regulation (EC) No 258/97 for the      European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 1997 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients, Cargill Acidulants, February 5, 2004.

For more information review the patent for processing glucosamine




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