Both humans and their canine counterparts can benefit from doses of glucosamine and glucosamine chondroitin. Never, under any circumstances, should you give a dog a human drug, or should a human take a dog drug. The medicines and supplements we take only work when given in the right doses with the right ingredients.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Dog Human Glucosamine? As much as your dog feels like your best friend, there are different ways the human body processes medication than the canine body does.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is the pillow for our joints. It provides padding to the joints of humans and pets naturally. As time goes on, the cartilage in our bodies can wear down. A supplement of glucosamine is said to repair cartilage and is available in many forms for humans, dogs, horses, and other creatures prone to age-related wear and tear.
What is Chondroitin?
Chrondroitin can go hand in hand with glucosamine to help relieve aching joints. It’s a chemical that already exists in our cartilage. While glucosamine can repair the damaged portions, chondroitin helps slow the breakdown of the cartilage that is still there.
How Does it Help with Joint Pain?
While glucosamine and glucosamine chondroitins fly off the shelves of stores for people and pets, it’s important to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve of any supplement in this family of joint help. That doesn’t mean the supplements don’t help.
Per the FDA:
“FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.
The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market.
If the dietary supplement contains a NEW ingredient, manufacturers must notify FDA about that ingredient prior to marketing. However, the notification will only be reviewed by FDA (not approved) and only for safety, not effectiveness.
Manufacturers are required to produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and labeling regulations.”
MORE: LEARN ABOUT FDA AND DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
You should always talk to your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet. The supplement can have interactions with other drugs.
What’s the Difference Between Human Glucosamine and Dog Glucosamine?
We are already in the wild west of supplemental use when it comes to glucosamine as there is no governing body approving the different products available. While there aren’t reports of illnesses caused by the supplements, which WOULD have to be reported to the FDA, it’s a buyer-beware situation.
Metabolization in Dogs vs. Humans
Human bodies metabolize drugs differently than a dog’s body. Dogs are generally much smaller than their human counterparts and need to have specific doses for any medication. Sure, you can Google all day to get answers, but the safest answer comes from your veterinarian for your specific situation.
Dogs have a much higher metabolism than humans. Have you ever tried to keep up with your dog’s breathing? They breathe faster and their blood pumps at a higher rate.
Their digestive tract isn’t as long as a human’s. The pet will process the medication differently than you would, so you need to make sure they’re taking a drug designed just for them. Much like you wouldn’t take your friend’s medication or supplements, you shouldn’t let a dog take yours.
Different Ingredients in Supplements for Dogs vs. Humans
Glucosamine supplements for dogs don’t have the same ingredients as those made for dogs. Certain ingredients could be used in human glucosamine that could very harmful to a dog.
For example, humans can tolerate and even enjoy artificial sweeteners in their supplements and food. One of those is Xylitol. This sugar substitute can be very harmful to dogs.
Xylitol can be found in:
- Sugar-free gums
- Certain sugar-free ice creams
- Some kinds of peanut butter
- Cough Syrup
Another concern is that since there isn’t FDA regulation, supplements can be sold from as far away as China. You can’t be 100% sure the ingredients are safe for consumption. In fact, one jerky treat supplied from China and sold in the United States has resulted in 600 pet deaths and nearly 4,000 illnesses.
Does Glucosamine Really Work?
Studies are conflicted on this. Even the world-renowned Mayo Clinic says “maybe” when it comes to human use.
“Glucosamine sulfate might provide some pain relief for people with osteoarthritis. The supplement appears to be safe and might be a helpful option for people who can’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While study results are mixed, glucosamine sulfate might be worth a try.”
There has to be a better answer than that, right? Even the National Institute of Health did a study and the answer was “it depends” and was focused on the amount of pain the person was in vs. how much the supplement helped.
“This rigorous, large-scale study showed that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate appeared to help people with moderate-to-severe pain from knee osteoarthritis, but not those with mild pain. It is important to study dietary supplements with well-designed research in order to find out what works and what does not.”
There are people who swear by this supplement and pet owners who say it gave their pet a new lease on life. Others will call it hogwash and look for more anti-inflammatory and regulated medication for pain management.
A study done by the American Veterinary Medical Association said it could provide moderate relief for dogs. Meloxicam was the preferred medication for a higher level of comfort in arthritic dogs. Some dogs can’t tolerate the NSAID medication and glucosamine might be the only option. There is a call from leading veterinary top brass to do more research on this important issue that can lengthen the life span of our pets.
“Although glucosamine and chondroitin have benign adverse effect profiles, the clinical benefit of using these agents remains questionable. Further study is required to clarify the uncertainty around the clinical benefit of using these agents and quantify any treatment effect that exists.”
Are There Side Effects of Glucosamine?
Glucosamine supplements are made partially of shellfish, so that can trigger allergies in humans and dogs. There are other side effects the AKC reports have come in from owners who gave their dogs glucosamine.
- Excessive Thirst
- Excessive Urination
- Sugar reaction to dogs with diabetes
There have also been reports of diarrhea and constipation with these products, as well as vomiting. Those could be indicative of too much glucosamine or unknown ingredients in the product.
Can I Give My Dog Glucosamine for Humans?
Don’t give your dog any supplement or medication that isn’t prescribed by your veterinarian. Don’t give your dog any medication you take.
A trained veterinarian can help you navigate a large number of supplements available and find the right one for your specific canine conundrum. Your vet knows your dog well and will find the right product at the right price point for you.
You need the right dose, right ingredients, and the best quality product to keep your dog’s joints healthier for years to come.
FDA doesn’t approve: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558930/#:~:text=There%20is%20currently%20no%20FDA,in%20the%20treatment%20of%20osteoarthritis.Dog metabolism: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/description-and-physical-characteristics-of-dogs/description-and-physical-characteristics-of-dogs#:~:text=all%20size%20ranges.-,Metabolism,many%20of%20our%20body’s%20characteristics.
Dog digestion: https://integricare.ca/blog/can-i-use-human-glucosamine-and-chondroitin-for-dogs/
FDA China illnesses: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigates-animal-illnesses-linked-jerky-pet-treats
Xylitol dangers: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/paws-xylitol-its-dangerous-dogs
Mayo clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-glucosamine/art-20362874
Side effects of glucosamine: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/glucosamine-dogs-arthritis-joint-pain/