Oh, those achy joints.
I’m going to avoid the “nerdy scientific” stuff as much as I can on this one, but some of it may creep in.
I’ve had a few discussions with people lately about Glucosamine supplements so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what I know.
Types of Glucosamine
Glucosamine supplements are generally made from shellfish, but can be made from vegetables as well.
Glucosamine Sulfate (G-S)- the glucosamine is chemically connected to sulfate. Sulfate salts are considered water-soluble.
Glucosamine Hydrochloride (G-HCL) – hydrochloride is derived from hydrochloric acid; the hydrogen and chloride atoms are linked together and then chemically bonded to the glucosamine. This process makes it very water-soluble and acid-soluble and therefore easily absorbed in the digestive tract.
So which is better?
Both. Neither. Scientifically speaking, no one really knows.
- There have been several studies run on the effectiveness of Glucosamine Sulfate, but very few on Glucosamine HCL. And as far as I’m aware, no studies have been done to specifically compare the two head-to-head.
- Some will argue that G-S is better simply because there have been more studies to show it’s effectiveness.
- Others will argue that G-HCL will provide the same effectiveness, but perhaps that is because it is generally combined in a product with chondroitin sulfate (sulfate being the key here).
And the bottom line here goes back to the foundation of everything we believe. Every dog is different. Find what works for yours.
You can find glucosamine supplements in many forms. Liquid, pill, powder and chewable tablets.
I, personally, (and this is just my personal opinion) do not like chewable tablets because they will inevitably contain additional ingredients (sometimes pretty yucky ones). I am a purist of sorts and prefer to provide exactly what my dog needs, with as little added as possible. They also generally use some sort of flavoring so you have to be careful if your dog has allergies.
I also am not a fan of trying to get a dog to take a pill – for most people, this means sticking them inside something to make a treat out of it, leading us back to unnecessary ingredients. Or, there’s the “shove-it-down-their-throat” method – not really a fan of that either.
Liquids are easy to add to their food, especially if you are feeding a kibble diet, but they can be messy, and in some instances may even need to be kept refrigerated.
Powders are easy to sprinkle over their food. Getting the right dosage for your size pet is easy to do. And they are generally less expensive than other forms. When you think about it, to make a pill or chewable or even liquid, you have to have the powder first.
The human supplement industry is not heavily regulated, so you can imagine the pet supplement industry is even less regulated. It is important to know and understand what you are actually looking for, and then to seek out reputable companies (not the one with the biggest advertising budget).
With glucosamine supplements, one thing that indicates a lower-quality product is the indication of NaCL or KCI after the words “glucosamine sulfate.” This indicates that additional carrier salts are added so you are getting less glucosamine (up to 30% less!). And sometimes it’s not what the label says, but rather what it doesn’t say. Another indication that you are not getting a quality product is the lack of “sulfate” or “HCL” on the label. A quality product is going to clearly identify which it is.
Look at the dosage. Say you’re looking to give your dog 1200-1500 mg/day. Often times, the bottle will be misleading and say something like “1500 mg/dose” on the front so you think it’s a great deal. Then you get home and read the label and see that you have to give 6 tablets to get that amount. Probably not such a good deal after all.
The bottom line
Every dog is different. Some will respond better to G-S products, others will respond better to G-HCL products, others will respond to a completely different joint supplement. There is a lot of trial & error involved to find the right solution for your dog. You have to be patient. It can take up to 4 weeks to see a difference with a glucosamine supplement. And sometimes one product will work well for a while, and then not as much and you have to find a new one. We have several options for you to choose from and are always happy to share our personal experience with each of them.
The most important factor always – feed your dog a healthy, species-appropriate diet.