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A Dynamic Duo in Joint Health: Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Dogs
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A Dynamic Duo in Joint Health: Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Dogs

"Your dog has arthritis." It's a common phrase heard among pet parents and something every one of us tries hard to avoid.

But what exactly can we do? Are there breeds that are more prone? Do we supplement? What age do we start? These are the most common mobility-related questions on the minds of pet owners today, and I am here to help answer them.

Glucosamine and chondroitin have long been staples for dogs' joint health, especially for senior dogs suffering from joint pain and arthritis. They are not just popular among pet parents—they are also commonly recommended by canine mobility experts and veterinarians.

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a substance naturally found in the body that helps in the formation and repair of damaged cartilage. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is used to stimulate cartilage production to keep joints flexible. This helps in reducing pain in dogs with osteoarthritis and other joint-related issues.[1][3]

What is chondroitin?

Chondroitin is also found naturally in the body's cartilage, which provides the building blocks for the body to build new cartilage. It keeps cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid into the connective tissue, keeping it spongy, resilient, and healthy. Chondroitin also blocks the enzymes that break down cartilage, helping slow down the degeneration seen with osteoarthritis.[1][3][6]

Is one better than the other?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined in joint supplements for dogs as they work best in synergy, complementing one another in maintaining and repairing cartilage. From improving stiffness to mobility to reducing pain, they are two important ingredients to include in your dog's diet to support their overall joint health and help offer pain relief.[3][5]

How does my dog benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin? 

Glucosamine and chondroitin are particularly beneficial for dogs suffering from joint issues, including hip or elbow dysplasia and arthritis, and those recovering from joint-related surgeries, like cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) repair. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements provide pain relief and improve canine mobility, but they also contribute to delaying age-related joint degeneration while offering anti-inflammatory properties.[2][3]

Do young dogs require joint supplements?

Research has shown that glucosamine and chondroitin are far more effective at maintaining and repairing joint health when they are introduced to a dog's diet earlier in life, when the damage is potentially too severe. Supplementation is especially important in active, performance, or working dogs. Maintaining your dog's joint health early on will help them live a more active and pain-free life for longer, which is what we all strive for.[4]

What is the correct dosage?

The right dosage depends on the dog's weight, age, and goals and objectives. For example, it can be used as joint support to treat injuries or address degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. Typical guidelines suggest a range of 250 mg—1500 mg. I generally suggest adhering to the product instructions printed on the product label for accurate dosage.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are generally considered safe for long-term use with no side effects. 

The importance of an integrative and holistic approach

While these supplements are essential for joint health, the optimal approach is to take advantage of their synergy with other mobility-health supplements and superfoods.

A species-appropriate diet with essential nutrients, omega-3 oils, and probiotics are crucial for your dog's overall health and well-being. Keeping your dog in shape with frequent and age-appropriate exercise is also a key aspect in preventing the early onset of canine arthritis. 

Choosing the best glucosamine and chondroitin supplement:

Due to the vast array of dog joint supplements available, you need to look beyond the traditional glucosamine and chondroitin, and combine them with other ingredients of the mobility formula.

Here is a list of joint, mobility and injury-centric herbs and superfoods and the research behind them:

Also, the quality, potency, and purity of ingredients vary significantly, making it crucial for dog guardians to choose wisely for their dogs.

Beware of low-cost supplements, as they may contain harmful heavy metals and other toxins that can diminish the health benefits of these supplements. 

Focus on a formula that contains whole foods, ideally fermented ingredients that offer the most significant benefits, such as perna mussel, turmeric, Boswellia, and others. 

The bottom line:

A high-quality, fermented mobility supplement provides a great foundation to support joint and ligament development in young dogs, but it also helps to alleviate pain and inflammation in case of injuries and osteoarthritis.

Additional tips to keep your dog's joints happy:

  • Nutrition: a natural, ideally home raw or cooked diet rich in omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also essential for excellent joint health

  • Hydration: keeping the body hydrated helps maintain joint lubrication and reduce inflammation

  • Regular exercise: regular and age-appropriate physical activity can help maintain joint health significantly. Let young dogs and puppies run and play, but only expose them to strenuous activities and hikes once they gradually develop strength. Strengthening exercises can play a vital role in supporting your dog's joints 

  • Routine vet and chiropractic or physical therapy checkups are also a part of the preventive joint and mobility protocol 

  1. McCarthy, G., O’Donovan, J., Jones, B., McAllister, H., Seed, M., & Mooney, C. (2007). Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. The Veterinary Journal, 174(1), 54-61.

  2. Jerosch, J. (2011). Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Cartilage Metabolism in OA: Outlook on Other Nutrient Partners Especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids. International Journal of Rheumatology, 2011, Article 969012.

  3. Martel-Pelletier, J., Roubille, C., Abram, F., Hochberg, M. C., Dorais, M., Delorme, P., Raynauld, J.-P., & Pelletier, J.-P. (2015). First-line analysis of the effects of treatment on progression of structural changes in knee osteoarthritis over 24 months: data from the osteoarthritis initiative progression cohort. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 74(3), 547-556.

  4. Neil, K. M., Caron, J. P., & Orth, M. W. (2005). The role of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis in animals. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 226(7), 1079-1088.

  5. Dechant, J. E., Baxter, G. M., Frisbie, D. D., Trotter, G. W., & McIlwraith, C. W. (2005). Effects of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulphate, alone and in combination, on normal and interleukin-1 conditioned equine articular cartilage explant metabolism. Equine Veterinary Journal, 37(3), 227-231.

  6. Chan, P.-S., Caron, J. P., & Orth, M. W. (2005). Effect of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on regulation of gene expression of proteolytic enzymes and their inhibitors in interleukin-1–challenged bovine articular cartilage explants. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 66(11), 1870.


About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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