If your dog has arthritis or joint pain, nothing outperforms glucosamine. But there are some problems with glucosamine supplements you need to know about.
So let’s look at those problems, and then we’ll tell you the best sources of glucosamine for dogs.
What Is Glucosamine?
Your dog’s body naturally makes glucosamine. But when dogs get older, they produce less of it. That’s a problem because glucosamine helps repair joint cartilage, and keeps the right consistency in the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. So if there’s not enough glucosamine, your dog can develop sharp, jaggedy edges on the bones in his joints and the fluid inside the joint will be sticky – and this means pain, stiffness and lack of mobility. So a lot of dogs develop arthritis as they age.
If this sounds like your dog, then you might look for a glucosamine supplement online or ask your vet for a prescription glucosamine supplement. But there are a few problems with giving glucosamine supplements like glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine HCL …
Problems With Glucosamine Supplements
First, a study by Consumer Lab found some glucosamine supplements had dangerous levels of lead. They also found that they were often mislabelled and didn’t contain anywhere near the amount of glucosamine they were supposed to. This also applied to supplements with chondroitin and MSM. Out of 6 products for dogs they reviewed, only 3 passed their quality standards. Consumer Lab also looked at pet foods that claimed to promote mobility, but found they contained very little glucosamine or chondroitin.
Second, nobody has really shown that these supplements really work or how much to give. One of the reasons for this is that supplements like glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine HCL usually come from a synthetic source, so they’re not well absorbed.
Studies show that only 2.5 to 12% of these glucosamine supplements are actually absorbed by your dog. The rest just gets pooped out … so you’re wasting your money and your dog doesn’t get much relief from his joint pain.
A 2017 Canadian study of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for dogs concluded …
“Although glucosamine and chondroitin have benign adverse effect profiles, the clinical benefit of using these agents remains questionable.”
That means it’s best to give your dog glucosamine from natural sources. This is really good news because you don’t have to worry about lead and heavy metals … and your dog’s body will recognize and use glucosamine from natural sources.
Natural Sources Of Glucosamine For Dogs
Here are the best natural sources of glucosamine for dogs … and how much to give.
Green Lipped Mussels
The #1 food based source of glucosamine is green lipped mussels. They naturally contain really large amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin. The important fact about green lipped mussels is that they’re COX inhibitors … just like prescription joint meds are. So they offer the same anti-inflammatory benefits … but unlike prescription joint meds, they also contain LOX inhibitors so they don’t harm the liver and gut lining.
Green lipped mussels can take a little longer to work in your dog, but it’s totally worth it because they’re much safer than prescription meds. And there’s another plus: a good GLM powder will contain a healthy dose of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. To make sure your dog gets this benefit, check that the supplement you buy is at least 5% fat. Anything lower means the fat has been stripped out (probably to be sold separately).
Research supports the effects of green lipped mussels on your dog’s joints. A 2009 study on dogs found that 3/4 of them didn’t need any other joint or pain meds. And there were no side effects.
Green Lipped Mussel Dosage For Dogs: Give 400mg for every 25 pounds of weight. Dogs love the taste, so you can just sprinkle it right on food.
Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM®)
Coming in at a close second is eggshell membrane … known as NEM®. This is the delicate little lining on the insides of egg shells (which you can remove and give to your dog, if you have the patience for that delicate work). NEM® is a natural source of glucosamine, along with other joint friendly proteins like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. The cool thing about NEM® is that it’s been clinically tested and found to decrease pain and stiffness and reduce pain in people with arthritis … and there’s research showing it works in dogs too.
NEM® Dosage For Dogs: The dose for NEM is 150mg per 25 pounds. For the best results, it’s a good idea to double the dose for the first 10 days or so.
There are also some foods you can give your dog to provide him with extra glucosamine. This isn’t as sophisticated as green lipped mussels or NEM® because there isn’t the same research … and there’s no tested amount that’s been shown to work … but here are some common foods that are rich in glucosamine.
You can buy bone broth in stores or make it yourself … but just be careful because bones are where lead, heavy metals and herbicides like glyphosate are stored. So bone can be a bit of a problem and you should always try to find the cleanest source you can. If you can get bones from pasture-raised and free-range animals, those are the best choice.
As well as making or buying broth, you can also feed animal joints that contain both bone and cartilage. They’re great natural sources of glucosamine too.
Your dog will love chewing on beef trachea, whether raw or dried. It’s easy to get and it contains a good amount of glucosamine. In fact, if your vet has ever recommended the injectable glucosamine supplement Adequan … well, Adequan is extracted from beef trachea.
You can feed trachea raw as part of your dog’s meals or you can buy freeze-dried or dehydrated trachea treats.
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Other Food Sources Of Glucosamine For Dogs
Veal tails are a good choice, and so are parts like rabbit feet and ears. And you can feed those with the fur on because fur is a great source of manganese, an important trace mineral that’s also linked to healthy joints.
Other good sources of glucosamine are beef knuckle bones, which have lots of cartilage. Others include chicken or turkey wings, feet and necks, along with pig feet and tails.
Caution: If you use poultry or pork, you’ll want to remove the skin. Skin from pork and poultry is extremely high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, which can aggravate your dog’s arthritis joints.
What Form Of Glucosamine Is Best For Dogs?
Natural sources of glucosamine are best and safest for dogs. Research shows synthetic glucosamine supplements aren’t well absorbed by the body … and some are contaminated or don’t contain the amount of glucosamine they claim.
Now you know some easy ways to give your dog’s joints the benefits of glucosamine … and they’re safer and better absorbed than synthetic supplements … and cheaper too.
Comblain F, Serisier S, Barthelemy N, Balligand M, Henrotin Y. Review of dietary supplements for the management of osteoarthritis in dogs in studies from 2004 to 2014. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Feb;39(1):1-15.
Bhathal A, Spryszak M, Louizos C, Frankel G. Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review. Open Vet J. 2017;7(1):36-49
Hielm-Björkman et al. Evaluating Complementary Therapies for Canine Osteoarthritis Part I: Green-lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009;6(3):365-373.
Ruff KJ, et al. Effectiveness of NEM® brand eggshell membrane in the treatment of suboptimal joint function in dogs: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Vet Med (Auckl). 2016;7:113-121. Published 2016 Aug 18.