What is glucosamine and what are its possible benefits for dogs?

What is glucosamine and what are its possible benefits for dogs?

If you're a dog owner like me, chances are you've heard of something out there called, "Glucosamine" (usually pronounced gloo·KO·suh·meen). Maybe your veterinarian mentioned it to you during your last visit, or maybe you saw it referenced in a social media post. Either way, you've come to the right place to learn more about this important substance.

In this blog post, we're going to answer two basic questions: What exactly is glucosamine? What are its possible benefits for dogs?

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a type of amino sugar that's produced naturally and exists in the bones of animals (including both humans and dogs), in the shells of shellfish, and in other organic matters. Glucosamine is an important compound because it's a component of cartilage--the tissue that supports and cushions joints. There are several types of glucosamine, including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. 

Glucosamine supplement jar

In addition to being produced naturally in the body, glucosamine can be taken as a dietary supplement. Most manufactured glucosamine comes from processing the shells of shellfish like crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. Other commercial sources of glucosamine include fungus and fermented corn.

What are glucosamine's possible benefits for dogs?

It's important to note that glucosamine has not been approved in the U.S. to treat, cure, or prevent any disease in humans or dogs. Nevertheless, some studies have suggested possible benefits for dogs experiencing joint-related health issues.

Hand petting older golden retriever dog

For example, a 2007 study, which consisted of a randomized double-blind trial involving 35 dogs, found that dogs with osteoarthritis of hips or elbows who were given a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride and another substance orally, showed improvements for pain, weight-bearing, and severity of condition. In another 2007 study, 20 arthritic dogs were divided into four groups, some of which received daily oral treatments of 2,000 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride and other substances. While the dogs who received the placebo showed no change in arthritic conditions, those dogs who received glucosamine hydrochloride and other substances did demonstrate pain reduction. Finally, 2012 study likewise saw alleviation of pain in arthritic dogs that correlated with the use of glucosamine hydrochloride and other substances.  

Although further study is likely needed to fully understand the possible benefits of glucosamine for dogs suffering from hip and joint pain, glucosamine remains a popular over-the-counter dietary supplement for dogs. 

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