A Guide to Glucosamine for Dogs

Updated 05 June 2024
Read time: 8 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter

We hate to bring this up, but every dog ages (boo!) and as part of the whole ‘getting old’ package, achy and creaky joints become commonplace. 

Though we can’t time travel at Pooch & Mutt (yet), we do know of a secret ingredient that fights the effects of ageing when it comes to joints - and that’s glucosamine. We love it so much, we use it in both our dog joint care food and joint care supplements, because its essential cartilage-building properties are too good to miss. 

So why exactly is glucosamine for dogs so fantastic? Read on for a full guide to glucosamine and how you can use it to make your dog’s joints stronger and healthier.


What is glucosamine for dogs?

In technical terms, glucosamine is an amino sugar that comes in these common forms: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl glucosamine. Researchers have found glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride to be most effective for protecting joints (1), so that’s what you’ll see listed on most joint supplements for dogs. 

Though glucosamine is produced naturally in a dog’s (and human’s) body, it can also be found in the natural world - for instance, from the shells of crustaceans and molluscs like oysters, mussels and crab.


Why is glucosamine so great for dogs?

The great thing about glucosamine is it forms the building blocks of cartilage; the tough, shock-absorbing substance that cushions two bones at the joint. Cartilage erodes over time, meaning as a dog gets older, their bones rub more closely against each other and inflame the joint, commonly leading to osteoarthritis. 

Dogs naturally produce less glucosamine as they age, so their body becomes less effective at rebuilding this cartilage, essential for healthy, comfortable movement. Therefore, bolstering a dog’s diet with glucosamine-rich foods or a supplement containing glucosamine can give your dog’s joints the extra protection they need to stay happy and mobile - particularly when combined with other powerful joint-building ingredients such as chondroitin (2).

spotty dog eating dog food


Does my dog need glucosamine?

All dogs aged 12 weeks and over can benefit from taking glucosamine to ensure healthy, lubricated joints or as a preventative measure - particularly if your dog’s breed is prone to joint diseases in old age, or if they’re a busy working dog.

On the other hand, glucosamine for senior dogs can potentially provide pain relief to improve their quality of life - especially if they’re finding it harder to walk, struggling to climb stairs, or seem slower getting to their feet these days. It can also ease discomfort for a dog with a joint injury, or one who’s recently had surgery.

Glucosamine won’t reverse the effects of arthritis or hip dysplasia, though vets will sometimes recommend it for potential pain relief alongside conventional medication. It’s a good idea to check with your vet before using glucosamine for dogs, just to be safe.

What does glucosamine actually do for dogs?

Glucosamine comes with a doggy bag full of treats for all things joints…

  • Delays the onset of joint damage to keep your dog nimble for longer.

Glucosamine introduced via your dog’s diet will replace the cartilage-building functionality their body loses over time, so they’ll maintain their youthful energy and stay vivacious, bouncing and carefree for years to come.

  • Increases mobility and range of motion

If used as a preventative measure for joint pain, glucosamine should maintain your dog’s ability to move freely; so they can jump, prance and roll around without resistance or discomfort.

  • Alleviates the pain of ageing joints and/or arthritis

It’s never fun to see your dog struggling to get around, especially when they were very active before. As arthritic or ageing dogs can’t use crutches or wheelchairs, it’s even more important to halt pain at the source to ensure they’re comfortable. Glucosamine helps reduce inflammation - so their stiff and achy limbs will feel eased.

  • Eases recovery from joint surgery or injury

If your dog has recently undergone surgery in their bones or joints, glucosamine (along with traditional painkillers) can contribute to a healthy, speedy recovery - so they’ll be back to their usual tail-wagging self in no time.

  • Boosts mood, energy levels and quality of life 

If your pooch has started to lack energy as they age, they’ll become perkier and more high-spirited once their glucosamine-rich diet has alleviated those dull aches and pains! With longer walks and more time outside, their quality of life will be boosted, too.



How much glucosamine should I give to my dog?

You can give your dog glucosamine every day, but as with all doggy diet changes, the recommended dosage depends on their weight:

  • Giant dogs (over 90 pounds) - at least 1,500 mg a day.
  • Large dogs (45 to 90 pounds) - 1,000 mg a day.
  • Medium dogs (20 to 45 pounds) - 500 mg a day.
  • Small dogs (5 to 20 pounds) - 250 to 500 mg per day.

Remember: if your dog is fed glucosamine-rich foods (see below) they may not require a supplement that day; whereas if your dog is injured or recovering from surgery, it’s ok to give them a bit more than usual.


Glucosamine rich food for dogs

Glucosamine is a natural material - present in animal bones, bone marrow and the shells of shellfish, so your dog could be receiving its benefits from a range of raw foods. Beef, lamb and goat trachea, chicken’s feet, ox’s and pig’s tails and green-lipped mussels, for instance, are all great natural glucosamine sources that dogs dig.

Natural glucosamine is better absorbed into your dog’s body, which is why if you opt for supplements, it’s important to choose ones that use naturally derived ingredients rather than synthetic alternatives.


Glucosamine joint supplements for dogs

Green-lipped mussels aren’t exactly something you can pick up with bread and milk, so many dog owners sneak an easy glucosamine supplement into their dog’s daily feed instead.

Our tasty Mobile Bones for Dogs supplement, for example, contains other nutritional ingredients that supercharge glucosamine’s joint-boosting power - such as yucca, fish oil and selenium. Just feed them to your dog directly or crumble into food using the dosage guidelines on the pack.


Side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs

Glucosamine is often present in joint supplements alongside chondroitin, as together they form a cartilage-building power duo. 

Though rare, there is a risk of side effects with these two ingredients. Keep a lookout for the following symptoms in your dog - it could mean they’re getting too much glucosamine and/or chondroitin, or may be allergic.

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea

This is likely the most common side effect of glucosamine, so if you notice your dog’s toilet habits significantly change or they have tummy trouble after taking it, cut glucosamine from their diet and chat to your vet. 


Is your pooch uncharacteristically dragging their paws? A drop in energy is a sign to cut the glucosamine and see if things change.

Problems sleeping

At the other end of the sleepy scale, pay attention if your dog is suddenly fidgety and can’t settle down for a kip - especially if they’re usually a mutt that drops and snores on cue. That said, this is a rare side effect that's only usually seen with extremely high doses. If your pup is experiencing troubles with their sleep, double-check with your vet to investigate why this might be. 

Increased urination and thirst

Lots of dogs seem to lift their leg every minute come walkies, so this can be a tough one to spot - but be aware if your dog is peeing more or is much thirstier than usual. Again, this is an extremely rare side affect, so be sure to contact your vet if your pup experiences this to check if there aren't any other underlying conditions. 

Trouble breathing

If your pup starts to hyperventilate, choke or wheeze after taking glucosamine, take them to a vet immediately for a check-up. This will likely be from an allergic reaction, which again is very rare, but be sure to seek professional advice either way. 


Can I use human glucosamine for dogs?

Though humans and dogs get the same benefits from glucosamine, we have quite different digestive systems. The main risk with feeding human glucosamine supplements to dogs is the other ingredients that may be included - for example, xylitol, an artificial sweetener deemed toxic for dogs; or zinc, where a dose that's too high can lead to toxicity. As we’re much bigger than most dogs, human dosage guidelines are also variable.

It makes more sense to use a glucosamine supplement specifically designed for canines - just to be sure of your dog’s comfort and safety. 

Ready to treat your dog to a glucosamine boost? Try out our tasty glucosamine dry food for dogs’ joints. If you’d like to know more about glucosamine and its effects, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat.

Comments (9)

Can Glucosamine Chondroitin help collapsing trachea in a small dog?

A - Mar 01 2023

Great article. Very clear and easy to understand the positives and negatives. Thank you.

Rebecca S Lancaster - Jun 13 2023

It seems there are many Glucosamine tablets at the chemist and supermarket that just contain glucosamine and condroitin these should be ok for dogs? If there is no zinc or xylitol? It just seems that the human products are way cheaper than the vet products for the same thing. Always feel like your getting screwed for pet products. L8ke it’s human nature to for someone to live there pet so let’s screw them for the same ingredients.

Stephen - Jul 20 2023

Great and easily understood information.

Jean Nisbet - Oct 25 2023

We give our Blue Heeler, 6-7 years old, glucosamine for about 3 years
She is active and doesn’t have any problems except loose and runny stool when we feed any human food. And any amount of bread or meat or anything except her dog food. Even less than a ounce. I want to save Glucosamine with ac for when she is old because it worked well for my other Blue Heeler. I quit giving to her today. Is that wise? Thank you!

Wes Perkins - Dec 13 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Wes,

It is personal pooch preference on whether you want to give them Glucosamine at this stage or later in life. Glucosamine helps to ensure healthy, lubricated joints and is a great preventative measure – particularly if your dog’s breed is prone to joint diseases in old age, or if they’re a busy working dog. :)

Team Pooch - Dec 13 2023

I buy a glucosamine supplement from a well known brand and per their instructions, I would be giving my dogs nearly 2.5 times the dosage you recommend. If that is harmful, why are they recommending it?

Allie - Feb 13 2024
I started giving my 8 yr old austrailian cattle dog 3 glucosamine supplements a day Do i give it all at once or spread it out ? Not sure ?
Dona - May 10 2024
Pooch Admin

Hi Dona,
You can absolutely feed these all at once if you would like, it is personal pooch preference. :)

Team Pooch - May 10 2024

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