Updated November 2021
Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for best dog glucosamines

As dogs grow older, we see in them many signs of aging, but the most common are those caused by arthritis: stiff joints, the inability to jump on the couch, slowness, and obvious pain. Sometimes an old injury like a cartilage tear or herniated disc cause osteoarthritis to kick in even at a younger age, as can hip dysplasia, which is more common in certain dog breeds. We all want to keep our fur babies as active as possible, and we certainly want to keep them pain-free, so the use of supplements like glucosamine is a valuable tool.

Keeping your dog moving helps ease the effects of arthritis, and it’s important to find a natural way to allow your pet to do that without pain. Glucosamine can help prevent or ease arthritis or joint soreness, but there are lots of options to choose from. If you’re confused by the brands and terminology, we can help. Our guide has plenty of information as well as several of our top recommended picks to help you as you shop.

Content Image
A veterinary study in 2007 reported that glucosamine provided the same amount of pain relief as some prescription drugs.

Key considerations

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is an amino sugar, a natural substance found in the body, with the biggest concentration in healthy cartilage, the tough, spongy material that forms a cushion between the joints and bones. Due to wear and tear, cartilage needs to be constantly repaired and replaced. Aging slows down the production of glucosamine, leaving cartilage damaged. This causes inflammation, which in turn produces enzymes that cause more damage  — a vicious cycle of joint damage.

What does glucosamine do?

It’s thought that glucosamine supplements improve the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), the building blocks of cartilage and joint fluid. The theory is that this stimulates DNA activity, which protects against joint degradation.

Glucosamine is an anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation in sore joints, which in turn helps to reduce pain and prevents more damage to the joints. It may also help reduce or even eliminate the need for pain medication.

Is glucosamine safe?

A large percentage of pets suffering from joint damage can be helped by glucosamine supplements. Glucosamine is natural, nontoxic, easily available over the counter (without a veterinarian’s prescription), and causes very few side effects.

But there are some caveats. A few dogs are allergic to it, and some pooches experience diarrhea. If taken in high doses, glucosamine can cause excessive thirst and urination. And because it’s a sugar-based substance, some veterinarians are concerned about its use in diabetic dogs. As with any supplement, it’s always best to check with your vet before giving it to your pet.

Content Image
Did you know?
A lesser-known use for glucosamine is in the treatment of gut health. It has been shown to calm inflammation in the digestive system, which correlates with the health of the immune system.

Dog glucosamine features


There are two types of glucosamine: glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride (HC1).

Glucosamine sulfate: A recent study in people found that glucosamine sulfate produced pain relief superior or equal to analgesic or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

HC1: That being said, it’s usually HC1 you’ll find in pet glucosamine supplements.

Chondroitin sulfate: For best effect, HC1 is used in conjunction with chondroitin sulfate, a component in cartilage. It’s believed that the chondroitin sulfate is also an anti-inflammatory and slows the breakdown of cartilage. When these two supplements are used together, it has an increased beneficial effect on a dog's joints.

MSM: You will often see methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) added to glucosamine and chondroitin, too. This is a natural sulfur compound that is also thought to help improve a dog’s joint flexibility and reduce inflammation and pain.

Other ingredients: Some forms of glucosamine also include other natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric, omega-3s, and hemp.

"Georg Ledderhose, a German surgeon, discovered glucosamine in 1876. "


Glucosamine is available in liquid and powder form, as pills and capsules, and as flavored chews. All are equally effective, so the type you use comes down to your dog’s preference, the ease of use, and the cost. Never give your dog medications or supplements labeled for humans since they may contain other ingredients that are harmful to pets, especially the sweetener xylitol which is lethal to dogs.


Glucosamine is obtained from shark or beef cartilage or the shells of crabs, oysters, and shrimp. However, there are also some vegan brands that are synthesized in laboratories from plants. Some dogs are allergic to shellfish, so this may be the recipe of choice for them.

There have been some negative reports about supplements made in China, with claims that they contain toxic or less-potent ingredients. Check the label for the country of manufacture on the products you choose.

Dog glucosamine prices

You can expect to pay around $0.30 per pill, the caveat being that some pills are bigger than others, so check the recommended dosage for your dog when comparing costs. Liquid glucosamine generally costs about $1.25 per ounce. Flavored chews and supplements with lots of extras like vitamins may cost a bit more. Check the price per dose, not the price per pill, ounce, or chew, to calculate your actual cost. For example, a dose for a toy dog might be one chew, while a dose of the same product for a very large breed might be four chews. As is often the case, buying a larger container can be less expensive in the long run.


  • Exercise your dog. Keep your dog healthy with regular exercise even if he’s stiff, but don’t overdo it. Regular exercise helps maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints. Letting your pet be a couch potato only leads to more joint and muscle pain.
  • Keep your dog at her optimum weight. Too much weight puts much more strain and wear and tear on the joints.
  • Consider adding a physical therapy regimen to help with sore joints and weight control. Hydrotherapy, where your dog walks on a treadmill in water, can help immensely, since the joints are working while not bearing as much weight. Dogs can also benefit from massage, cold lasers, and ultrasound.
  • Be patient. Don’t expect a sudden improvement in your dog’s symptoms. It could take four to six weeks before you see the positive results of a glucosamine joint supplement. If you don’t see any results after three months, you might want to reevaluate continuing with the supplements.
Content Image
You’ll first give your dog what is called a


Q. How long will my pup need to stay on the supplements?
Since arthritis is a chronic condition, your dog will need to be treated with the joint supplements for the rest of its life. In fact, if you’re seeing an improvement and stop treatment, it’s likely that the symptoms will come back.

Q. How will I know if the glucosamine is working?
Your dog will tell you! It will be happier overall because it will be in less pain. You’re also likely to see your pet being more playful and more willing to go on walks, climb stairs, and chase balls again. Just make sure that your dog doesn’t overdo it, especially if it’s been sedentary for some time. You don’t want your furry friend to get injured or wind up with sore muscles.

Q. Is glucosamine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?
This product is what is called a “nutraceutical,” a dietary supplement with medicinal properties. It doesn’t need to undergo the same FDA reviews and stringent approval processes that other medications do. Veterinarians in Europe and the states have used glucosamine since the 1990s.

Our Top Picks