Glucosamine Side Effects In Dogs

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Just like humans, dogs have a tendency of developing health issues as they get older. The most common issue, especially in larger breeds, is linked with pain in joints. However, there are supplements like Glucosamine that can be used to treat this condition. But, there are a few side effect that can make you think twice when it comes to introducing this medicine to your dog. Read on and discover what are the signs of side effects of glucosamine for dogs.

Glucosamine for dogs is one of the most popular medicine for dogs lately, and the usage of this medicine grows each day. Moreover, Glucosamine chondroitin is probably the most popular supplement for canines when it comes to fighting against arthritis.

Glucosamine is often added to dog foods due to its health purposes, many dog treats and other edibles for our canines, and pets in general. Manufacturers claim that Glucosamine works perfectly for fighting against joint issues and canine arthritis. But, are there any side effects or any science supporting their claims? Let’s take a look on this matter.

What Is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound and it’s one of the most popular over-the-counter therapies when it comes to treating arthritis. Moreover, it’s one of several natural substances that are known as chondroprotective agents that are used in the treatment of arthritis in both dogs and humans.

It’s great for other animals as well. In most cases Glucosamine is used to treat the following conditions:

  • to ease up on joint pain
  • to ease up on pain in hip dysplasia
  • to support recovery from joint surgery
  • keep dog’s performance in peak condition

Glucosamine is basically a form of supplement that was isolated back in 1876 by German surgeon Georg Ledderhose. There are two common formulations of this supplement:

  1. glucosamine hydrochloride
  2. glucosamine sulfate

These products are basically regulated as dietary supplements and not as drugs, as most people believe it to be. They are officially registered as dietary supplements by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

As such, they are not by any means subjected to the same FDA reviews and long approval process as pharmaceuticals. Instead, dietary supplements are evaluated for safety once they are on the market, with close monitoring.

Interestingly, the veterinary practice in Europe started using dietary supplements only 20 years ago.

How Glucosamine Works?

No one can tell for sure how Glucosamine actually works, although there are some developed theories. Glucosamine is a supplement that’s actually an amino sugar that improves the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans.

Glycosaminoglycan is one of the building blocks of cartilage. Cartilage is a tissue that connects cushions bones at the joints. There is even one theory that Glucosamine stimulates chondrocytes or even DNA activity that can protect joint degradation.

Scientists wanted to see if this supplement worked so they started their first experiments regarding this subject back in the 1980s, but there were no firm conclusions or claims ever since. Experiment with humans and results from those actions are incomplete. However, the research continued back in 2000, when researchers from Boston University’s School of Medicine Arthritis Center analyzed results between 1960s and 1999.

They found 37, of which only 15 were truly worth analysis. The results simply said that some small efficacy was detected. Ever since each study showed different results, some claim efficacy and progress, some not, while there are those who claim that it can’t help in any way.

Furthermore, studies back in 2012 showed that one form—glucosamine hydrochloride—had little effect, while another form—glucosamine sulfate—offered pain relief. In addition, in 2007 another study was carried out. This study involved 16 clinical trials of treatments for osteoarthritis in dogs. Each study searched for supplements and drugs. Results were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and reported that they have found that preparations containing glucosamine provided a moderate level of comfort.

Glucosamine Benefits

Based on all the information that we have so far about Glucosamine we can say that it can provide benefits for your dog. The most popular benefits are:

  1. Reduces inflammation and alleviates pain – As stated before, glucosamine can improve the ability of cartilage to repair itself. With the use of glucosamine, dogs feel relief of pain and inflammation. Glucosamine can make the recovery of cartilage faster.
  2. Makes joints healthier and increases range of motion – Glucosamine promotes the vital health and functioning of chondrocytes which are important when it comes to the strength of the joints. Even if your dog doesn’t have joint issues, it cant harm strengthening the joints. After all, joint problems are one of the most common dog issues. Furthermore, improvement in chondrocytic activity leads to enhancement of mobility.
  3. Lowers the need for NSAIDs – You should always bear in mind that pain-relieving effects or anti-inflammatory effects of glucosamine, won’t be visible immediately. However, you can be certain that its effects are longer-lasting than NSAID ( nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin and ibuprofen) or any other pain relievers.

Moreover, these medications work very fast, and their effects wane just as fast. Furthermore, NSAIDs can lead to a number of different and even severe side effects that can aggravate your dog’s condition. On the other hand, glucosamine works differently.

Glucosamine is all natural and can’t lead to a serious threat to your dog, but mild level side effects. If your canine is in pain you can give him NSAID (after consulting your veterinarian, of course) and give glucosamine in addition. Once the pain is gone or lowers you can stop with NSAID and continue with the glucosamine. There should be no more pain.

Does Glucosamine Have Side Effects?

Just like with any substance or medication, there is a risk of an allergic reaction, especially if your dog is allergic to shellfish. Severe form of allergy can lead to anaphylaxis. So, if you notice even the slightest sign of an allergic reaction, get to your veterinarian.

Simply said, there have been very few side effects observed in patients taking glucosamine, including:

Glucosamine is a sugar-based substance. Therefore, some veterinarians are not glucosamine-supporters. In addition, the most common side effects that have been reported so far are diarrhea and vomiting.

Luckily, these side effects are mostly mild and they disappear in just a few days. In addition, no long-term adverse effects have been reported. Just like with any medications or dietary supplements, you should consult your veterinarian before you introduce something new to your dog.

Symptoms of Glucosamine Allergies in Dogs

Allergies are considered to be one of the most common reactions to glucosamine. Furthermore, there are some breeds that are more prone to this condition than others, and the main reason for it lies in the fact that some breeds, especially larger breeds, simply have more severe joints problems due to weight on their joints.

After all, large breeds grow more rapidly when compared to other dogs. Breeds that may have joint problems are:

The main reason for glucosamine allergies in dogs lies in the body’s response to shellfish portion of the supplement. But, the most specific causes for this allergy is due to the capability of the immune system to deal with its sensitivity when it comes to shellfish.

Diagnosis of Glucosamine Allergies in Dogs

Luckily, it’s not difficult to notice an allergy your dog might have to glucosamine. It’s extremely easy for a veterinarian to set this diagnose. Once you get your canine to the veterinarian’s office you can expect a set of questions regarding your canine’s health.

Make sure to list any supplement that you may have import to your dog’s nutrition. If you could write down the start date of any supplement that could help as well. Also, you should be able to know when specific irritation started and when other symptoms occurred.

On the other hand, if your dog is not suffering from any severe condition you can expect that veterinarian suggest that you stop giving your dog this supplement for a few days and see if his reaction will stop.

This is also the first step when it comes to diagnosing your dog with glucosamine, or shellfish allergy. Bear in mind that diagnosing food allergies is more challenger than diagnosing other types of allergies. Diagnosing this condition can take up to 8 weeks.

Quick tip: Write down start date of any supplement intake and have it posted on the fridge.

Treatment Of Glucosamine Allergies In Dogs

Once the diagnosis is made, there is only one method of treatment that is adequate. So, removing the supplement from your dog’s dietary routine is the only way to free your dog of any allergic symptoms.

But if your dog shows more severe reaction or even moderate level reaction, treatment may include decontamination, meaning that you can give your dog a bath with a mild shampoo to help your canine’s skin and ease on any type of inflammation.

In addition, your veterinarian can suggest that you give your dog regular baths so his skin can continue to heal. Moreover, some medications may be included as well, and the chances are that your veterinarian will probably prescribe a antihistamine or corticosteroid to help your dog recover.

Also, removing the supplement from your dog’s diet can cause the reactions to come to a halt. In the meantime, temporary medications can help ease your dog of any discomfort. After these treatments, your dog will feel better immediately.

How Should You Give Your Dog Glucosamine?

Glucosamine for dogs is available in the form of supplements that can be powders, pills, liquids or even tablets. The effect is the same for each form of supplements. The main difference lies in your dog’s preferences when it comes to medicine intake preferences.

Also, these are meant to be given daily. And yes, they can be expensive and sometimes are made synthetically, rather than naturally extracted from shellfish shells. Also, most of these supplements are available in veterinarian’s offices, online sources and even pet shops or pet-supply stores. Again, contact your veterinarian for the best schedule and correct dosage.

Also, make sure that you check with your veterinarian about proper dosage if you decide to give your dog supplements. Furthermore, glucosamine supplements are in most cases given to dogs with chondroitin sulfate or methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).

Only a few are well-aware of glucosamine presence in dogs food. Yes, glucosamine is present in dog foods for senior and performance dogs. Performance dogs are at high risk of injury and joint disease. If your dog is on constant glucosamine intake you should have a check-up with your veterinarian every three months.

One of the most common ways to give glucosamine to your dog is through the food they eat. So, you can reinforce your dog’s food with chicken feet, pigtails, trachea, bone broth, green lipped mussel, as each is a great source of glucosamine.

Good to know:Natural supplements are more effective than synthetic supplements.

How Is Glucosamine For Dogs Made?

If you still have some doubts from where glucosamine comes from, let us sum it up in a nutshell for you. Simply said, glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar used to construct bones and cartilage. It can be found in fish and animals.

Glucosamine is also used in a few cellular structures that can help maintain their shape. In addition, fungus and some plants can contain glucosamine. However, make sure to stay away from poisonous plants for your dog.

Now that we know where glucosamine for dogs can be found, it is important to understand how it’s made. In most cases, glucosamine is extracted from the shells of shellfish, including shrimp, crab, lobster and etc. The following steps are considered to be standard when it comes to making glucosamine hydrochloride:

  • shells are ground into small and fine particulates.
  • ground shell gets mixed with hydrochloric acid (HCl) in order to cause Acid Hydrolysis of the shellfish chitin.
  • afterward, glucosamine hydrochloride will accelerate and then be filtered.
  • crystals will be extracted from the water.
  • crystals are afterwards separated and purified over a centrifuge.
  • glucosamine is dried, making a white powder.

As mentioned earlier, glucosamine comes in many forms and this is just one of many processes. Primary forms of glucosamine are n-acetyl glucosamine, glucosamine hydrochloride, and glucosamine sulfate. Each process is slightly different due to the differences in chemistry.

Also, if you know or only suspect that your dog might be allergic to shellfish you should avoid this supplement and search for another solution. However, if you didn’t know that your dog is allergic and you notice an allergic reaction, get your canine to your veterinarian immediately.

Glucosamine Side Effects In Dogs – Key Takeaways

Although glucosamine for dogs is one of the most popular medicine for canines lately, it doesn’t mean that you should introduce it to your dog’s diet without consulting with your veterinarian. After all, professional guidance is always welcome when you are about to step into something new.

The truth is that glucosamine comes with a few benefits for your dog, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any side effects or troubles for your canine. The most common side effects include vomiting and diarrhea if your dog is not allergic to shellfish shells. If he is then you are up for a road making sure that you keep your dog safe.

All in, the good thing about side effects from using glucosamine is that they will pass by in just a few days. Regardless of it, you should take your dog to the veterinarian’s office for a detailed check-up.