Many people take glucosamine for their aches and pains, but here's an interesting fact: They're also giving it to their dogs. After all, if the popular over-the-counter dietary supplement works to rebuild and repair human cartilage helping to ease the discomfort and swelling associated with bone and joint diseases, why couldn't it do the same for canines?
As both human and animal bodies age, the naturally occurring compound known as amino sugar (or glucosamine) that makes up the connective tissue known as the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within the joints begins to wear down faster than it can be produced. That's when bones in the knees, hips, spine and hands rub together, making it difficult to move the joint, and causing pain, inflammation and degeneration. Coming to the rescue: glucosamine supplements that help rebuild and repair this spongy shock absorber between the bones.
"Glucosamine is used typically for joint tissue repair," says Dr. Kenneth R. Hoffman, medical director of Connecticut-based SOPHIA Natural Health Center, in an email interview. "It is the primary building blocks of cartilage, and theoretically, by supplementing, you are giving the body the necessary nutrients for it to do its job properly. As you get older, the amount of glucosamine in the joint fluids drop. So, by replacing lost nutrients, it can help your body rebuild cartilage that breaks down over time."
The same can be true for our dogs. "If your dog has a history of limping, arthritis, mobility issues or past orthopedic surgeries, I would encourage pet owners to discuss appropriate management, which may include glucosamine supplements, with their veterinarian," adds Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, veterinary medical adviser for Rover, via email.
"Osteoarthritis affects over 20 percent of dogs over 1 year of age, particularly large breed dogs, which can have devastating effects on our pets' mobility and overall quality of life," she says. "Glucosamine may confer some mild anti-inflammatory activity, which is important in the management of chronic and painful joint conditions like osteoarthritis, where the smooth cartilage of joint surfaces gets worn away. Research also suggests that glucosamine and chondroitin may help limit the breakdown of joint cartilage. By having a higher concentration of cartilage building blocks in circulation, there may be potential to help new cartilage formation."
So, what's the difference between human and dog joint supplements, you ask? In short, although the main ingredient of glucosamine may be the same, there are significant differences between the rest of the ingredients, as well as the digestibility, dosage and composition. Here, more about glucosamine, and how it potentially can help both people and dogs.