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If you notice your dog is having trouble standing up from a seated position or isn’t as confident going up the steps as they used to be, it may be time for a glucosamine supplement. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar in the body that helps form and repair cartilage, explains Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, founder of PetHappiness. Older dogs naturally produce less of it, which results in stiffness and pain. “Glucosamine supplements are given to performance dogs and dogs with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis to alleviate discomfort and slow down joint cartilage degeneration,” Dr. Tripp says.
Here, the best glucosamine supplements for your dog.
Best Overall: Zesty Paws Mobility Bites Hip & Joint Support Duck Flavor Chews with Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM for Dogs
The earliest you’ll want to start giving your pup a glucosamine supplement is at the first sign of symptoms, rarely before one or two years of age, says Dr. Tripp. In addition to joint-boosting glucosamine, chondroitin, and OptiMSM, a natural pain reliever, these all natural Zesty Paws bites contain vitamin E and flaxseed along with immunity-boosting vitamin C and sustainably sourced Palm Oil. They're free of wheat, corn, and soy, which is good to know if your pet has sensitivities.
Pups love the tasty duck flavor, but if you have a hard time getting your dog to eat it, the chews are easy to break up, so you can mix one in with their regular food at mealtime.
Best for Large Breeds: Tomlyn Joint & Hip Chews with MSM and Glucosamine for Medium & Large Dogs, 30 count
Larger breeds, such as mastiffs, athletic dogs like Labrador retrievers, and dogs who are prone to hip dysplasia like golden retrievers are all likely candidates for a glucosamine supplement, Dr. Tripp says. These chews, which are made for dogs 30 pounds and up, contain a blend of glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin to reduce inflammation and promote healthier joints. They also have good-for-your pup DHA, creatine, amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids.
While supplements will help with mobility, Dr. Trippp notes the best ways to keep your pup healthy are to take them for daily walks and keep them lean, as added weight puts more pressure on their joints, which can become a bigger issue with senior dogs.
It’s not just large breeds that are prone for joint damage—smaller dogs with unusually shaped bodies, such as dachshunds and bulldogs, can have issues as well says Dr. Tripp. These mini chews contain a similar combo of glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin as the other supplements to ease your furbaby’s joint pain.
Those ingredients are blended with omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy and shiny coat in a dose that’s appropriate for pups 25 pounds and under—they’re also sized just right for smaller mouths. While you could always halve a treat for a larger size dog, if you do give your dog too much glucosamine, you run the risk of giving your pup an upset tummy or other gastrointestinal distress, Dr. Tripp cautions.
A standard glucosamine dose is 10 to 20 milligrams per one pound of dog weight, says Dr. Tripp, so if your pup lands somewhere in the middle of a small and a large breed, a powder formula may be your best bet. Just sprinkle this powder, which contains organic turmeric to further reduce inflammation in addition to the standard glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin, onto your pup’s meal daily.
You’ll know this or other glucosamine supplements are working, says Dr. Tripp, when your dog “rises easily from a resting position, shows a normal gait, is happier on walks, and is more willing to go up the stairs or play.”
The best formula for a glucosamine supplement is the one that your dog will happily eat, says Dr. Tripp—and it may take some experimenting to find the exact right one for your pooch. Many dog parents say they’ve had good luck with this liquid formula that they drizzle over their pup’s food once or twice daily (depending on size). It can also be given solo, if your pet is willing to give it a try.
In addition to glucosamine, this formula contains hyaluronic acid to help keep your pup’s joints lubricated and healthy. It’s made in the U.S.A., contains no sugar, starch, wheat, gluten, yeast, milk, corn, or soy, and was developed to be readily absorbed.
With only two-ingredients, natural-minded pet parents can rest assured they’re giving their dogs nothing but the best. This powder contains freeze-dried New Zealand green lipped mussels, a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and omega-3, plus organic turmeric, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.
One sprinkle of powder over your pet’s food daily should be enough to get them up and running again, though you should still try to prevent your pup from jumping, running, or over exerting themselves otherwise in a way that can re-injure joints, cautions Dr. Tripp. It’s safe for dogs to be on glucosamine supplements their entire life.
Don’t trust yourself to remember to give your dog a daily supplement? With this Blue Buffalo Life Protection formula, you don’t have to—it’s added right in, along with calcium, phosphorus, and other ingredients that support your pet's teeth and bones, immune system, and fur. What it doesn’t have is any wheat, corn, or soy.
Even picky pups love the chicken and brown rice formula. Depending on the size or your pup and the severity of their joint problems, you may find extra supplementation is still needed, but this is a good place to start.
Some dogs may be on glucosamine supplements almost their entire lives, so it follows that you'll want a brand that doesn’t break the bank. This ProSense chew contains many of the same ingredients as the fancier brands, plus it has earned the quality seal of the National Animal Supplement Council, so you can be confident that you’re giving your pup a quality product.
If your dog won’t eat it, Dr. Tripp recommends mixing it with a strong tasting food like tuna, brie cheese, hot dog, or peanut butter. The brand recommends giving it to your pup around mealtime to reduce the chance of any tummy troubles.