When my Shar Pei, Dozer, began to act like an old dog, my vet suggested I look into glucosamine.
I've heard of glucosamine, but that was in regard to people, not dogs. Can it really help dogs that are suffering from arthritis and joint pain?
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
Dozer was 8 years old when he started to act like an old dog. He has always been somewhat reserved, dignified, but he started to walk very slowly, gingerly, as though he was having a tough time taking each step.
Climbing stairs seemed to be hard for him, too. He normally followed me down into the basement, but lately he started to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for me to come back up. Instead of exploring the yard while I hung my laundry on the clothesline, he would lay down in the cool grass and watch me.
Then he began to lay down in the bathroom. This was odd because he doesn't like baths, and normally he stays far away from the bathtub!
Plus, there are no windows in the bathroom - it's dark in there. He always liked to stay close to the french doors in the dining area, because he could watch out the windows for errant squirrels and other intruders who don't belong in his yard.
When I told the vet about this, he asked what kind of floor was in the bathroom. I told him it was ceramic tile - and he said that was the answer. Dozer's joints were aching, and the cool tile floor soothed the pain.
For Dog Arthritis, Glucosamine Has Been the Answer for Many
Arthritis is caused by a number of factors. The term "arthritis" actually covers more than 100 different joint pain conditions. It can be that the joint is inflamed, or infection, or the cartilage between bones wearing away and more.
Where the problem is cartilage wear, glucosamine for dogs may be the answer.
Where bones meet, say in a hip socket or knee socket, there is a layer of cartilage that acts like a shock absorber between the bones.
However, as we and our dogs age, that cartilage can wear away, leaving the bones rubbing against each other without any padding. That pain can be intense, as anyone who is a candidate for a knee or hip replacement can tell you.
Humans and canines produce glucosamine in the body naturally, but the aging process also causes glucosamine production to drop off.
The good news is that glucosamine is cheap and easy to obtain. It's made from crustacean shells, and since the crustaceans are normally the valued part of the crop, the shells are typically thrown away, meaning that glucosamine supplements for your pet can be relatively inexpensive.
Types of Glucosamine for Arthritis in Dogs
There are 4 types of glucosamine, but the two most effective are Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride or HCL.
If your dog's arthritis pain is caused by wearing of the cartilage between bones, then you'll want to start supplementing with glucosamine as soon as possible. You'll need to give this supplement for the rest of your dog's life since your pet's body is no longer providing the needed levels of glucosamine.
Glucosamine supplements can encourage the cartilage to regenerate, but it won't completely solve his joint pain problem. If you stop supplementing, you'll see a return of arthritis symptoms.
How Do You Give Your Dog Glucosamine?
Glucosamine for dogs comes in pills that are swallowed, chewable tablets and liquids.
Of course, if your pet takes pills well, then that may be the best solution for you.
Dozer, however, does not like pills, so we decided to try liquid and chewables.
Some dogs are happy with chewable tablets, thinking they are treats, but Dozer would have none of that. The other alternative is the pour-on liquid, which we poured over his dinner at night. That worked well for us. He cleaned it up right away!
We started to notice an improvement about 5 days after his first supplement. Two weeks later, he was back to his old self, jumping into the truck to check out the cows and running up and down the basement stairs after me. What a joy it was to see him feeling good again!
The good news is that glucosamine supplements for dogs typically work that quickly, with most dog owners noticing results within 10 days to 2 weeks.
What Dosage of Glucosamine is Best for Dogs With Arthritis?
Watch the product bottles carefully, since they may list dosages that are hard to compare. For example, one bottle may list 100 pills while another may list 16 ounces.
One website suggested that you think about the dosage in terms of one day. How much will your dog need for one day's treatment?
A good rule of thumb to start is 750 mg of either Glucosamine Sulfate or Glucosamine Hydrochloride per 50 pounds of your dog's weight.
Many veterinarians report that doubling the glucosamine supplement to start for 1-2 weeks is beneficial, and can "jump start" your pet's recovery. And of course, make sure to discuss any medication or supplement with your vet before starting any new regimen for your dog.
Are There Any Side Effects to Glucosamine for Dogs?
A few side effects have been noted by some pet owners, including vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs will seem drowsy or experience a lack of appetite, but these symptoms appear to be rare. Reducing the dosage for a short while seems to alleviate these side effects.
Many dog owners reported that their dogs seemed to experience these side effects for just a short time as their bodies adjusted to the supplement. You may want to try a different form of glucosamine if one form seems to present side effects.
If you've "jump started" your pet's dosage to 2x, as recommended earlier, and you notice vomiting or diarrhea, back off to the normal dosage.
It is highly unlikely to overdose your pet on glucosamine.
The good news is that once we started Dozer on his glucosamine supplement, almost immediately we noticed our pet feeling and acting more like his old active self. He's more than 9 years old now, but you wouldn't know it!
We're so glad that we discovered glucosamine for the treatment of arthritis in dogs.