Q. Your recent discussion on NSAIDs for dogs was of interest to me since our last dog, an 85-pound Newfoundland mix, developed painful, vet-diagnosed arthritis in his legs and hips. He would cry and refuse to walk whenever he had to climb steps.

I myself had then suffered arthritis for nearly a decade and was taking an OTC supplement containing chondroitin, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid. The vet offered NSAIDs for the dog, and I asked if I could first try him on my OTC. In about a week Dawson was frisking about like a pup again, just as happy as he’d always been.

The next summer we left him at the kennel for two weeks, and when we returned he had arthritis symptoms again. They disappeared upon resumption of the supplement. He lived to be nearly 16 (extreme old age for a big dog) and never had bad arthritic pain again. We think of this as a de facto single-blind experiment, with no chance of a placebo effect warping the outcome.

A. We are intrigued by your story. A recent double-blind study found that glucosamine did not help build back knee cartilage or significantly change the structur of arthritic knees in humans (Arthritis & Rheumatology, online March 11, 2014).

Veterinarians seem to be comfortable using glucosamine with or without chondroitin, however, and many dogs appear to respond as your Dawson did.

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  1. Rhonda
    Stanwood Iowa
    Reply

    I have a American bull dog and she has alot of joint problems .i was reading about glucosamine for dogs and seen that the shellfish can cause a bad reaction to them. What are the signs to look for. Would love to give it to her but afraid to, until i know if it is going to harm her.

  2. SJS
    Reply

    We had a shepherd/retriever mix who was diagnosed with hip dysplasia (only 25% of ball in socket) at 7 years of age. Rimadyl was suggested but I wanted to try natural supplements first. I used a glucosamine/hydrochloride supplement, alfalfa (natural diuretic for water on joints), and an Omega 3 complex. She lived until 15.
    On another note, she was diagnosed with liver disease at 11 years and we were told she would only live maybe another 6 months. I started her on a milk thistle supplement and she lived for four more years and her liver tests improved every one of those years.

  3. Kath G
    Reply

    Hi
    My 10 year old Rottie (close to 60 Kg) has been on Glucosamine for about 8 years. He has the ‘normal’ human capsules without Chondroitin as our vet 8 years ago suggested plain Glucosamine was better though I know opinions have changed now.
    He started on Glucosamine, after needing bilateral anterior cruciate ligament repairs (one on each knee) after falling into a trench a lazy builder left in our yard. He was on daily anti-inflammatory meds before but after about a month on Glucosamine, he was a new dog and only occasionally needed the Meloxicam (Metacam in Australia).
    Despite recent research feedback I have no doubt that Glucosamine made a huge difference to my boy, significantly improving his quality of life and the need for medication was substantially reduced.
    So he has one 1500mg capsule each night which contains 750mg Glucosamine.
    Good Luck in the future.

  4. eg
    Reply

    I have a 18 y.o. cat w/ stiffness n his back legs. He takes Methimazole 5m BID for thyroid problems. Would glucosamine help cats?

  5. JimP
    Reply

    The study that is cited used glucoasmine HCl. As I recall from other articles on People’s Pharmacy and radio show guests, most studies that find benefit use glucosamine sulfate. I have been searching for supplements containing glucosamine sulfate and there are not many. I haven’t found any in local stores, so I’ll have to buy via mail order.

  6. Brooklyn
    Reply

    I’ve been giving my 11 year old, 110 lbs lab-mastiff-shepherd mix glucosamine-chondroitin supplements for years now. I buy the human pills and add them to a small dab of peanut butter and scrape that onto the side of his food dish every morning. He loves the peanut butter so much that he is not even phased by the GIGANTIC pill. If I stop giving this to him for a few days everybody can tell a difference. Friends will even comment that he is not doing so well. But a day or two back on the pills and he is a like a spry young pup again. Our vet is always amazed at how healthy he is for such an old man (11 is pretty old for this type of dog). I don’t care how much people claim that it is a useless supplement to humans! It definitely works for my little old man!

  7. Katy
    Reply

    I would love to take glucosamine for my hands… am not allergic to shellfish, but do have a condition called angio edema which can lead to anaphylactic shock… I keep an epi pen on hand in case the tongue swelling progresses to the throat… does anyone take this pill and have any tendency to develop anaphylactic shock?

  8. Donnie
    Reply

    Glucosamine works well for me, including my knees, and worked as well for the two dogs I gave it to. I plan to give it to the dog I have now, when she might need it in the future.

  9. Peppy
    Reply

    Be very careful. Our vet prescribed glucosamine for our American Eskimo due to arthritis in the back legs. She seemed to improve for a couple months. Then tragedy struck. She had her dose and suddenly went into anaphylactic shock and died instantly. She was very healthy and this occurred immediately after ingesting the supplement.
    Vet told us what happened. There is shell fish in glucosamine and he said some dogs do have reactions (including death) just like humans can react to shell fish.
    Be miss our Snowball.

  10. Vee
    Reply

    Could it be that the reason glucosamine works for dogs is because it works for SMALL joints, but not big joints like the human knee? Perhaps that’s why people with arthritis in their hands get relief from the supplement even though research shows it’s not effective on knees.

  11. fbl
    Reply

    What about cats? Our 10 yo “tuxedo cat” seems to favor his right rear leg but can still jump up on the block wall fence. I wonder if a small dose (any recommendation here?) would make him more comfortable?
    People’s Pharmacy response: This is a good question for the vet. Cats are different enough from dogs that we are reluctant to make any recommendation.

  12. Kristin
    Reply

    8 years ago I found two 25# dogs starving in the desert. In addition to having ticks, fleas, tapeworms, heartworms, and ehrlichea, one was pregnant and occasionally limped on one hind leg. I dealt with all the other medical issues, but the limping continued. After xrays, the vet said she might eventually have to have surgery on her knee. I started her on glucosamine at that time.
    Within a month the limping became very rare (1-2 little skips every 10 minutes of off-leash walking). At one point several years later, we were car camping and I ran out of the glucosamine. In a couple of weeks the limping started again. I put her back on the glucosamine and to this day (at age 9+), she does not limp or show any pain in that leg, and sometimes goes for days without even the little skip.
    It is important to remember that glucosamine takes at least several weeks to begin working, and the effectiveness remains for several weeks after stopping the pills. This is NOT like aspirin which will help within a few hours, so be sure to give it at least a month before you decide it is not working. Another recommendation: I buy human glucosamine for the dogs at places like Costco. It is much cheaper than getting it from the vet. I am also giving my other two dogs glucosamine as a preventative (one dog is a very large-boned 88# German Shepherd).

  13. Lorraine Testa
    Reply

    I give our 7 year old Rottie one Fish Oil and one Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM every morning. She seems to be doing good and getting around well. If she lost some weight, she would probably do a lot better.

  14. CHL
    Reply

    I agree 100% that glucosamine chondroitin can help dogs!!! I have a 12 year old Otterhound mix that started having trouble with her hips and joints about a year ago. She weighs about 45 lbs, so she is not a big dog. I bought an over-the-counter dog treat-looking medicine for her at Wal-Mart (right in the pet isle) labeled ‘Hip & Joint’. It’s a blue and white bag.
    Coincidentally, I started taking an over-the-counter glucosamine chondroitin about the same time for the same reason. It has helped me tremendously.
    One day, I got curious and looked at the ingredients in what I was giving to my dog – sure enough! The very first ingredient on the package is glucosamine chondroitin. I thought, imagine that, this medicine that is helping me is helping my old girl, too!
    One word of advice on taking glucosamine chondroitin for hip & joint pain – BE PATIENT! The pharmacist told me when I started taking the medication that it would take about four full months before I would feel the full benefit of glucosamine chondroitin. That turned out to be very accurate, so I figure that’s how long it might take for my dog to feel the benefits as well. Either way, we are BOTH feeling much better. I can FINALLY sleep at night without having hip and joint pain that keeps me awake as I toss and turn. It’s been like a miracle drug for me, and for my dog as well :)

  15. SMC
    Reply

    We had a 12 year old dog – the vet wanted to do a $2,000 surgery on her knee. when I told him that my husband probably wouldn’t go for that treatment he reluctantly said we could try a glucosamine pill for dogs – which worked like a charm! I would be interested to find out a dose & if “people pills” would work – they are much cheaper than the fancy “tasty treats” from the vet.

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