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Best Glucosamine for Dogs in 2024 - A Vet’s Honest Opinion

Best Glucosamine for Dogs in 2024 - A Vet’s Honest Opinion


As a veterinarian, I often get questions about glucosamine supplements for dogs. And it is a highly debated subject in the medical field, both in the veterinary and human communities, regarding its effectiveness. Do glucosamine supplements work? Let's dive into this and review the best glucosamine for dogs.


What you should know about glucosamine for your dog

Glucosamine is generally safe for dogs, but you should avoid it if your dog has allergies, especially shellfish. 


Glucosamine has been used for decades, but the results are "hit or miss." Unfortunately, recent studies have confirmed what many vets already know: the benefits of glucosamine for a dog's joint health are mixed at best. 


Sometimes people may argue that glucosamine works for their friend's dog.


However, studies show that this could be due to the placebo effect.


The placebo effect is when the owner believes in the effectiveness of a product, even if it doesn't have any active ingredients.


That's why studies have a placebo group as a control to measure the real difference in the treatment group - this is called a "placebo-controlled study."


The glucosamine placebo effect in dogs - how to avoid it in studies


Different Forms of Glucosamine

When it comes to glucosamine dietary supplements for dogs, there are primarily three forms that are commonly found:


  • glucosamine sulfate,
  • glucosamine hydrochloride,
  • N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG).


Glucosamine sulfate is often known for its purported ability to enhance cartilage formation and repair, even this is becoming controversial in the scientific community,  offering a sulfur component critical for cartilage health. This is the form you find more for humans.


In 2010, the British Medical Journal published a meta-analysis that combined the results of numerous glucosamine trials involving thousands of human patients. The authors found no conclusive evidence that taking glucosamine provided any benefit. However, they noted that many patients who used glucosamine believed in its effectiveness, and since it did not cause any harm, they could continue using it.


Glucosamine hydrochloride, on the other hand, has a higher concentration of glucosamine per dose, making it a popular choice despite lacking the sulfate group. This is the version more used for dogs. 


A review of glucosamine for dogs suggests several reasons for choosing hydrochloride salt in veterinary products. Chemically, the hydrochloride salt provides more glucosamine per gram compared to the sulfate salt, despite studies indicating lower overall oral bioavailability (Beale, 2004). Additionally, the sulfate salt is often stabilized with sodium chloride (NaCl) or potassium chloride (KCl), which can be problematic for aging dogs with conditions like heart failure, hypertension, or kidney decline. Finally, hydrochloride salt is cheaper to produce, whereas pharmaceutical-grade crystalline glucosamine sulfate is manufactured under strict quality control standards (Altman, 2009).


Similar to glucosamine sulfate for humans, glucosamine hydrochloride is a subject of debate within the veterinary community.


N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG) is a derivative of glucosamine that is believed to support the health of the mucous membranes and is often used for gastrointestinal health.


N-Butyryl Glucosamine: More recently, another product came on the market with N-Butyryl Glucosamine. The studies indicating this version works better than glucosamine was not published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal. 


Each form has its champions, but the effectiveness varies among individual dogs, making it essential for pet owners to monitor their pets' responses and consult with their veterinarian to determine the most suitable option.


If you're looking for the most common forms for dogs, glucosamine hydrochloride is the best choice. However, for the best solution for your pup's joint health, consider Omega-3 and UC-II® collagen, which have demonstrated greater efficacy.


What is chondroitin sulfate?

Chondroitin sulfate is another popular joint supplement used alongside glucosamine in the treatment of joint issues in dogs. When brands have glucosamine in their product, they usually incorporate chondroitin sulfate too (chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are not the same, so be careful).


It is a major component of cartilage—the tough, connective tissue that cushions joints. Chondroitin sulfate maintains and rebuilds cartilage structure and inhibits enzymes that break down cartilage, making it a crucial element in promoting joint health.


When combined with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate should offer a synergistic effect, potentially enhancing the benefits of glucosamine in theory. This combination aims to support the repair of damaged cartilage and improve joint mobility. 


While this combination has been and is still widely used for pets, there is increasing evidence of its limited efficacy in supporting joint health and helping with arthritis. More and more vets are switching to other natural solutions.


What other compounds are used in joint supplements alongside glucosamine?


Apart from glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, other compounds are frequently included in joint supplements, showing promise in promoting joint health.


1. Omega-3 fatty acids: particularly EPA and DHA found in fish oil, are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce joint discomfort and stiffness. These fatty acids are among the most studied and proven ingredients for dog joint health in the supplement world. They are directly recommended as a first-tier option by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).


2. UC-II ® collagen: A relatively novel ingredient is UC-II ® collagen, and it’s making a lot of noise in the joint health veterinary space. As more and more vets switch from glucosamine to products with these ingredients like Jope Hip & Joint Dog Chews. Why? Because of the science behind it. Several studies have shown its superior efficacy to glucosamine and many more have show its benefits for joint health. 


3. Curcumin: If you're looking for plant-based solutions, curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) has shown very promising results, especially when combined with other ingredients. Its natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been known for millennia.


4. Boswellia serrata: Another interesting plant ingredient is Boswellia serrata. While there is less evidence supporting it compared to curcumin, it appears to be a promising natural alternative to glucosamine and chondroitin.


5. Green Lipped Mussels (GLM) are growing in popularity for good reason. They contain EPA and DHA (Omega-3), and the main benefits come from these compounds. I would rather opt for EPA and DHA from fish oil but GLM is a good alternative to glucosamine.


6. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is another compound, but it has very low evidence of benefits in dogs despite its widespread use. I’m not recommending it.


7. Hyaluronic acid works similarly to glucosamine and chondroitin by providing components of cartilage. However, the issue remains that just because you ingest these components, it doesn't mean your body will use them to rebuild cartilage. There is also limited evidence supporting the efficacy of orally taken hyaluronic acid for dog joint health, making it a less good alternative.



Does glucosamine work for dogs? - A vet’s expert opinion 


Many people wonder if glucosamine supplements work for dogs. Unfortunately, the answer is not really. 


Despite being widely used, the results are mitigated, even if 2 studies have shown interesting results, like the 2007 study. 


However, many studies have also shown that chondroitin and glucosamine are ineffective. Including this independent scientific article: Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review

glucosamine and chondroitin efficacy remains questionable.

 Conclusion from: Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review


A 2022 nutraceutical study reviewed the main clinical studies on nutraceuticals and concluded that most studies (8 out of 9)  showed no effect of glucosamine on dogs' joint health.

 "Of the nine trials assessed in this review, only one showed an improvement in the condition of the animals assessed, but this was using a non-validated subjective tool and for only one assessment time (at day 70)."


However, the same study confirmed the benefits of omega-3 and the promising results of undenatured type II collagen. 


This 2022 Review has shown that 8 out 9 glucosamine showed no effect

 Graphs from : A 2022 Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Enriched Therapeutic Diets and Nutraceuticals in Canine and Feline Osteoarthritis


If you're looking for a joint health supplement, I recommend a chew containing Undenatured type II Collagen, which has shown to be significantly more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin in a recent study


Proven more effective than glucosamine



So can glucosamine treat arthritis?


Multiple sources and clinical studies on glucosamine have shown little effect in effectively supporting joint health. 


Recent veterinary research indicates that glucosamine shows low evidence of efficacy in treating joint discomfort and maintaining joint health in dogs. This conclusion is supported by a 2017 review of numerous studies and a more recent study from 2023 demonstrating its lack of efficacy.


As a reminder: You can't cure arthritis; unfortunately, there is no miracle cure. Once arthritis sets in, your vet will focus on slowing its progression, maintaining healthy cartilage, and keeping your dog comfortable.


Does glucosamine work for humans?

In human medicine, conclusions look like the ones in dog medicine. And a lot of debate takes place on whether or not we should keep taking glucosamine. 


The lobby industry for this market is substantial, with a value of nearly one billion dollars in the US solely for human use.


In this article from Medical News Today, the author says, "Some experts have suggested that any success could be due to a placebo effect, in which simply taking a supplement makes a person feel better.


Best glucosamine supplements for dogs in 2024

Before recommending the best glucosamine supplements for dogs, I want to remind you that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of glucosamine for joint health is low. In both human and veterinary medicine, the conclusion is that glucosamine and chondroitin provide no other benefits in joint health management than placebo. As a veterinarian, I want to emphasize the importance of relying on scientific evidence and not just anecdotal evidence when recommending supplements.


And veterinarians agree: Dr. Brennen McKenzie emphasizes that veterinary professionals should understand the unreliable nature of anecdotal evidence supporting the use of glucosamine and should "temper their recommendations accordingly". 


Similarly, in human medicine,  a Harvard University Health Publishing Analysis of 8 studies with nearly 4,000 people with knee osteoarthritis found no evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin provide significant benefits.


Despite these findings, if you still want to try glucosamine supplements for your dog, here are some top brands recommended by veterinarians:


COSEQUIN® maximum strength with MSM and omega-3


cosequin glucosamine chews




Why trust it?

  • In the early 2000s, Nutramax, the company behind Cosequin®, conducted studies showing that their supplement contained the correct labeled amount of glucosamine and chondroitin. In contrast, 84% of other brands did not pass the test.
    NB: Since then, to my knowledge, no studies have been done to show the efficacy of Cosequin. 
  • They use a patented type of glucosamine
  • Among the study results was the positive impact of the patented glucosamine in improving biological parameters in provoked arthritis. This included a reduction in the levels of IL-1, which is responsible for inflammation.
  • I chose Cosequin® maximum strength because it contains the highest amount of glucosamine and includes omega-3.

Key facts about UC-II®

UC-II® = Undenatured Type II Collagen

  • UC-II® reduces dog pain and inflammation.
  • According to scientific studies, UC-II® works better than the combination of chondroitin and glucosamine to relieve your dog's pain and help them regain mobility.
  • UC-II® and Omega 3s are the only supplements that demonstrated benefits in plate-force studies. Chondroitin and glucosamine failed to do so.
  • UC-II® is an undenatured type II collagen derived from chicken sternum cartilage with a patented extraction process.
Learn more

    Dasuquin® advanced soft chews




    Why trust it?

    • The same company manufactures Dasuquin® as Cosequin®.
    • The advanced formula contains Omega-3.
    • Special large dog chews are available.
    • Proprietary glucosamine formula.



    ElleVet® hemp CBD + CBDA chews

     ellevet glucosamine chews


    Ellevet is not available on Amazon

    This alternative combines glucosamine with chondroitin and CBD.

     Why trust it?

    • CBD has potential benefits, but may not be as effective as omega-3 and UC-II®.
    • ElleVet® has conducted recent studies on CBD.
    • ElleVet® may be the only CBD company to provide such research.


    Glucosamine chondroitin for dogs - The most used association

    The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs is the most commonly used, and rarely do you see glucosamine alone, and all studies use this combination


    The reason behind this combination is that people believe the mode of action of these two compounds is complimentary: 

    • Glucosamine is thought to stimulate cartilage production.
    • Chondroitin might provide the building blocks necessary for the maintenance and repair of cartilage. 


    Therefore, combining these two compounds might, in theory, provide a more comprehensive approach to supporting joint health in dogs.

    If you're looking for effective joint supplements, I recommend reviewing our article titled "Top 5 Best Collagen Chews".


    Best Collagen for Dogs - Vet's Expert Advice

    Collagen, a rising star in pet wellness, offers diverse forms designed for specific benefits. When it comes to boosting your dog's joint health, find out which collagen solution is the right fit for them...

    Learn More

    Glucosamine MSM for dogs - Another association

    While you may come across supplements that combine glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM, it is essential to note that this combination is more of a trend than scientifically proven effective.


    Evidence for MSM's benefits for joint dog health is quite limited.


    I would not recommend this association for improving dogs' joint health in my patients.


    Instead, other options have shown better results, such as Omega-3 and UC-II®. These supplements have a better track record of improving joint health in dogs and providing relief from joint pain and inflammation.


    Of course, it is better to consult your veterinarian before starting any new supplement regimen for your dog. We are here to help you make informed decisions and find the best solutions for your furry friend.


    Glucosamine brand for dogs

    When finding the right glucosamine supplement for your furry friend, it can be overwhelming to choose from the numerous brands on the market. Furthermore, it isn't very reassuring to note that many of these brands rely heavily on the placebo effect and make grand claims without providing substantial evidence.

    When my clients ask about glucosamine for dogs, I always recommend checking the dosage of glucosamine in the product. It should be high enough to be effective. Additionally, it's a good idea to look for brands that provide studies and analyses of their product to understand their quality and efficacy better.

    Some famous brands that offer glucosamine supplements for dogs include Zesty Paws, Vet IQ, Doggie Dailies, Pet Honesty Paw Labs, Petfinn, Youmove, Vet Naturals, Naturvet, Life Extension, and many others. You might be interested in learning that a class action lawsuit is currently underway against Doggie Dailies for false claims. Be sure to research the brand thoroughly before making a purchase.



    To summarize my recommendation, while glucosamine supplements for dogs have been widely used and promoted, the scientific evidence of their efficacy still needs to be improved. I can't insist enough on the fact that all brands are not equal, and it's advisable to look for those that provide studies and analyses of their product. Also, check the dosage of glucosamine to ensure it's high enough. 

    Are you considering using glucosamine for your dog's joint health? In this case, it's also essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best option for your dog.


    Choices like omega-3 and UC-I®I have shown better results and may be worth considering. In the end, keep in mind that maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pet, including proper exercise, nutrition, and weight management, can also help promote joint health and prevent joint issues in dogs.


    Author: Dr. Jeremy

    Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), MS

    Meet Jeremy, a passionate veterinarian and co-founder of Jope, with a decade of experience—7 years in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industry and 3 years as a veterinarian. Passionate about enhancing the well-being of pets, Jeremy's mission is to provide practical, evidence-based advice and products that support pet parents and their furry companions. His favorite breed, the Australian Shepherd, holds a special place in his heart for their playfulness, cleverness, and beauty.

    Join Jeremy on an insightful journey through the world of pet health and discover how science and compassion come together to improve the lives of pets.

    The content presented here is for informational purposes and reflects Jeremy's own opinions, expertise, and experience. It is not intended to replace professional veterinary consultation, diagnosis, or treatment. For personalized advice and care for your pets, always consult with your veterinarian.

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