Adding Glucosamine to Your Dog’s Food
The health of a dog’s joint cartilage has a direct impact on mobility and activity levels. Cartilage absorbs shock, allowing the body to move freely, without pain. Unfortunately, there is no blood supply to cartilage, as there is with other body tissues. The act of motion is what delivers nourishing liquid to cartilage tissue. When the joints begin to deteriorate, movement becomes painful. As a dog moves less, the joints receive less lubrication, keeping the animal trapped in a cycle of pain and immobility. To help slow the process, many veterinarians recommend adding glucosamine to a dog’s diet.
What Does Glucosamine do for Joints?
Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring compound found in cartilage. It attracts and holds water, keeping the joints cushioned and lubricated. As dogs age, the joints will begin to degrade. This is a natural process which is sometimes exacerbated by arthritis or joint dysplasia. This degradation triggers the release of enzymes that actually break down the cartilage and fluids in the joints, which leads to inflammation. That inflammation triggers further enzyme release, creating a vicious cycle of deterioration.
Adding glucosamine to a dog’s food can help slow down this cycle. Glucosamine supplements can help support cartilage and thickens the fluid in the joints, keeping the knees, hips, and elbows cushioned. It is important to note that supplements will not prevent or cure arthritis or natural joint deterioration, but it can ease discomfort and help keep older dogs more mobile.
How to Determine Delivery and Dosage of Glucosamine
Many senior-formula dog foods contain added glucosamine. However, many owners feel a sense of obligation to supplement that food with additional glucosamine to support their dog’s joint health. A quick trip to the pet store can quickly turn into overwhelm in the supplement aisle. There are hundreds of glucosamine supplements on the market and they come in various forms: pills, capsules, liquids, powders and injections. No single form of delivery method is better than another. Owners need not worry that if they choose a pill over an injection that they are somehow doing their pet a disservice.
If you choose an oral supplement, however, the dog should be given a slightly higher dosage than recommended on the label, as the digestive process does cause some degradation. Liquids and capsules will experience less degradation in the gut and should be dosed according to the label. Injections will experience no degradation at all, but should be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian.
The accepted guidelines for glucosamine dosages are:
- Small dogs, 5-20 pounds: 250-500 mg per day
- Medium dogs, 20-45 pounds: 500 mg per day
- Large dogs, 45-90 pounds: 1,000 mg per day
- Giant dogs, 90 pounds and above: 1,500 mg per day
The larger the dog, the more costly the supplements will be. In order to evaluate the most cost-effective product, do not compare the cost per ounce or per tablet. Instead, compare the cost per daily dosage for your pet’s size. This will show you the true cost of the supplment.
Always check the dosing instructions of each product you consider. Some require pills to be given three times a day. This can be difficult for many dog owners to maintain, especially if the dog fights taking pills. In some cases, a more expensive product that can be simply sprinkled or squirted onto food is worth the tradeoff.