Glucosamine is an important ingredient or compound, that should feature in your dog’s diet. This nutrient is extremely important for your senior dog. It’s also better to start thinking about this in his early adult stages, especially in larger breeds. Staying on top of this early will help you avoid early degeneration of joint tissue and cartilage. Chondroitin also helps and is often included as a nutrient with Glucosamine rich dog food.
There are so many ingredients, antioxidants, superfoods, vitamins, and minerals thrown onto labels and food packaging. It gets so confusing, that unless you have a PhD in canine nutrition it can be difficult to know what your dog really needs. Often times it’s difficult to decipher if what the product is claiming is true! But Glucosamine really is one of the most important compounds for your dog. Here in this guide we go through what Glucosamine is and what it does for your dog. We also compare the best dry dog foods available that all have higher levels of Glucosamine.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin may not be the most interesting subject. If you want the very best for your pup, this is a must-read, especially if your pup is a breed prone to hip & joint issues. Some breeds need Glucosamine more than others. If you own a Labrador or a Golden Retriever pup, then you’ll definitely want to take some notes. Let’s jump in and look at Glucosamine in more detail, as well as our favorite foods that are rich in the nutrient.
At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods with Glucosamine
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- Why Dogs Need Glucosamine
- Why Dogs Need Chondroitin
- It’s Not For Every Dog
- Canine Glucosamine Requirements
- Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sources
- Best Dog Foods With Glucosamine
- Transitioning Foods
- Don’t Forget The Vet
- Final Thoughts
Why Dogs Need Glucosamine
Glucosamine is a compound. It’s made from sugar and amino acids, that is naturally found in the cartilage of dogs, and humans. It’s s a building block that allows the body to replace and maintain healthy cartilage. Cartilage is a tough yet flexible tissue that functions as padding between bones and their connective joints. Glucosamine molecules have a low compressibility rate, meaning that it makes it an excellent natural shock absorber. As your dog ages, his cartilage becomes weaker and thinner. Ultimately, it starts to break down. Not only does this grind your pups’ bones with every movement which will cause him pain, but if the cartilage is not rebuilt it will eventually cause crippling osteoarthritis.
All bodily systems are amazing things. But sometimes they can be their own worst enemy. In this case, when your dog’s cartilage is damaged, his body releases enzymes in order to alleviate the inflammation that has been caused. These enzymes further break down the cartilage. This is where your dog’s body needs an extra bit of help to stop this vicious cycle. It’s also where nutritional values come in. So, giving your dog an extra boost of this compound will ensure that his cartilage will stay as healthy as it can for as long as possible. It also acts as a lubricant for your dog’s joints. Not only does this prevent, or soften, the grinding, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory. This will help stop his body from releasing as much of those pesky enzymes.
It’s better for your dog to get the extra Glucosamine in his early adult years. This will delay this breakdown and decrease his chances of developing arthritis. If you didn’t start early, it’s always better late than never. Even if your pup is already aging and suffering with mobility issues or joint pain, pumping extra Glucosamine into his system will benefit him massively. If your dog is older, then it’s a must-do.
In addition to the above, it goes without saying that if your pooch is stiff and sore because of his joints, then he is less likely to want to be active and move about. Your dog will be more at risk of piling on the pounds and becoming obese. Not only is this unhealthy in itself, but it will also lead to further health issues. This includes putting extra pressure on his already weakening joints. So not only is Glucosamine important for his joint health, but it is really important for his overall wellbeing.
Why Dogs Need Chondroitin
Chondroitin is found in cartilage and has shown benefits to dogs that may be suffering from joint pain or arthritis later in life. Pets with severe arthritis can benefit for Chondroitin supplements to help improve the function in their joints as they age. It’s added to several of the foods we recommend in our list, which means that additional supplementation may or may not be used.
Chondroitin can help your pup’s joints feel better. It can also help reduce other pain medications that they may be taking. It’s shown effective in reducing other pain meds over a prolonged period of time when it’s introduced into a dog’s diet. Your dog may benefit from being on a dry kibble that’s rich in chondroitin. As always, you should consult your vet to be sure what’s right for your dog.
It’s Not For Every Dog
Please note here that high levels of Glucosamine, or Glucosamine supplements, are not advised for all dogs. Larger breeds typically do better on Glucosamine or Chondroitin enriched foods. Larger breeds are harder on their joints and ligaments. Supplementing at the appropriate time can help. The breeds that should stay away from Glucosamine and Chondroitin enhanced foods fall under the following groups:
Dogs who suffer with blood, or blood clotting diseases: If your dog suffers from diseases like Von Willebrand’s disease or Hemophilia A to name a few, then he should not be given Glucosamine in any extra amounts above that of a standard kibble. Glucosamine is known to increase the time it takes for their blood to clot.
Dogs who have, or are at high risk of, Diabetes: Glucosamine is a sugar-based nutrient. It’s not suited to dogs who either have Diabetes, or are at high risk of Diabetes. Examples are toy breeds like the Morkie or the Chihuahua Shi Tzu mix.
Certain breeds are more at risk of blood clotting diseases and Diabetes. Before you switch your pup to a high glucosamine diet or provide him with extra supplements, discuss it with your Veterinarian. If your Veterinarian confirms that your pooch should not be given extra Glucosamine, then Chondroitin Sulphate is a suitable alternative, so be sure to ask them about this too.
Canine Glucosamine Requirements
Scientific research has shown that a healthy adult dog needs, on average, 20mg of Glucosamine per pound of body weight every day. To put this into perspective this means that a 50 pound dog would need around 1000mg of Glucosamine every day. A dog with specific mobility or joint issues, would need a fair bit more as prescribed by your Veterinarian. Big dogs like Mastiffs will need a very specific type of food to ensure their joints don’t break down over time.
According to Rodney Habib, who is often described as the Gordon Ramsey of Pet Food, albeit a health-focused one, conducted a test on dry kibble available from the local pet store and veterinarians. He wondered whether labels regarding Glucosamine were misleading. He questioned if your dog could actually get their recommended daily allowance of the compound from dry dog kibble alone. What he found was rather disconcerting to say the least. After buying an undisclosed top-quality kibble from the Veterinarian shelf (at $120!) he calculated the following …
“Alas, 950mg per 8.8 cups would mean our 50-pound dog would need over nine cups a day to receive the 1000mg of glucosamine needed. According to this product’s manufacturer, we should only feed 3 ½ cups a day, meaning our pooch would only receive 377mg of glucosamine a day. This is a far reach from our desired amount of 1,000mg.”
Ultimately, what this means is, your dog, particularly if he is a senior dog or one with mobility and joint issues, is unlikely to ever receive his recommended daily allowance on senior formula dry dog kibble alone. Unless of course, he eats a whole lot of food. This will cause your dog to gain weight, causing joint issues anyways.
So, there are two lessons to take from this. Firstly, do not blindly trust product labels. You must read the ingredient list and nutritional profile yourself. And secondly, you either need to feed your dog additional raw meat treats, or Glucosamine supplements. There are plenty of adequate supplements available on the market. We’d recommend going this route if you decide not to change foods.
We recommend that you feed him the best quality kibble that you can find that has the highest levels of Glucosamine. Top it off with the raw treats throughout the day. Including high-quality kibble in his diet will not only provide him with a wide variety of nutrients that raw meat alone cannot provide your dog, such as much needed fiber, probiotics and antioxidants, but it also keeps his teeth healthy, amongst many other benefits. So dry dog kibble still is a must for his diet!
Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sources
There are many sources of natural Glucosamine available. These include mussels, chicken feet, pork tails, beef knuckle bones, beef trachea, cartilage of any kind and raw bones. While each of those might all sound revolting to you, they rich in Glucosamine and other nutrients. Plus, your dog will love them! Any whole prey based recipes, which include meat, bones, organs and cartilage of a particular animal is great. Labels such as ‘Chicken Meal’ or ‘Salmon Meal’ signify that the whole animal has been used. Most high-quality kibble will use meat meals as a source of Glucosamine.
Chondroitin is natural, and found in cartilage of other animals. It can come from cows and other animals. It’s naturally occuring, so picking a dog food that’s rich in both Glucosamine and Chondroitin can be helpful to in remedying joint pain as your dog ages.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about the other important ingredients and contents in the nutritional profile. As a basic rule, all food should be a minimum of 22% in crude protein, and a minimum of 12% in crude fat, as outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), who govern all pet food nutrient profiles.
Best Dog Foods With Glucosamine
After scouring the dog kibble market and putting the above information to good use, we have created a list, just for you and your pup. We recommend the best natural high-quality kibble, that has higher levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin. They also all compilant with the AAFCO guidelines in regard to the other ingredient contents.
We have also set out nutritional content tables of each food, where you can compare the nutritional profile of each product. You’ll also get a glimpse of the benefits of each dog food. So, in no particular order, here are our top 6 higher Glucosamine kibbles that will help to improve your dog’s joint health.
Victor Purpose Performance
Victor have created this recipe with an energetic dog in mind. It has a higher calorie content compared to the majority of other available kibbles. This recipe is made from gluten-free grains. It’s a great choice for those dogs with gluten allergies or intolerances (but please note that it is not grain free!). In addition to the first five ingredients, it also lists blood meal, chicken meal and pork meal, which are all great sources of Glucosamine. This kibble is aimed at dogs of all sizes, although probably not toy dogs!
We love that this recipe includes both prebiotics and probiotics. It’s a good choice for those pups with a weaker digestive system that also need digestive support!
American Journey Adult Food
- Glucosamine: 600 mg/kg.
- Grain-free formula.
- Made with nutrient-dense fruits & veggies.
- Salmon oil and flaxseed for skin health.
- Free of corn, wheat and soy.
- 390 Calories per cup.
- 32% Protein, 14% Fat, 5% Fiber.
American Journey’s most popular flavor also has added Glucosamine support. It’s a budget-friendly food, that has added nutrients to support a healthy coat and skin. It has additional fish oil, which is also great for joint health, as well as other bodily functions. They also list a balanced set of minerals that promote strong bones in larger dogs. This kibble is designed for all adult dog breeds.
We love that American Journey presents a budget-friendly dog food for pups that need joint support. It’s widely loved by many dog owners, and it’s one of our favorite brands for multiple types of dogs.
Wellness Complete Large Breed
- Glucosamine 750 mg/kg.
- Engineered for healthy joint promotion.
- Formulated for stool odor control.
- Moderate fat content for weight management.
- Chicken is the first ingredient.
- 340 Calories per cup.
- 26% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This recipe also lists Whitefish in the first 10 ingredients. It’s a great source of fish oil which is another ingredient that assists in your dog’s joint health. It is full of antioxidants and superfoods such as spinach, apples and blueberries. All of this will aid your dog’s immune system and his healthy oxidative state, which he would not get from a raw meat diet alone.
We love that this recipes offer the highest amount of calories per cup. If you have a working or super energetic dog who needs the extra level of Glucosamine, then this is the best choice! It’s also one of our favorite foods for a Labrador Retriever in the adult stage.
Merrick Backcountry Raw
- Glucosamine: 800 mg/kg.
- Freeze-dried food with real beef.
- Benefits of a raw diet.
- Deboned beef is the first ingredient.
- Made in the United States.
- 392 Calories per cup.
- 38% Protein, 17% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.
This premium recipe offers the joint highest level of rich protein. This is great for maintaining his lean muscles and muscle repair. Both of these things are important if your pup is a super energetic breed or working dog. The first three ingredients are deboned beef, lamb meal and salmon meal. All three are great sources of Glucosamine.
Other ingredients include pork meal, lamb, rabbit, salmon oil and beef liver. It also includes freeze-dried raw pieces that lock in that fresh meat taste that your dog will love. Because of the fresh meat taste, this is one of our favorite dog foods for fussy eaters. Merrick boasts that their kibble provides all of the nutritional benefits of a raw diet. It comes in the convenience of kibble, but with the added antioxidants and superfoods such as blueberries and apples.
We love that this recipe offers all of the above. It’s also grain-free for those dogs with sensitive stomachs!
Ziwi Peak Air Dried Food
- Glucosamine: 1,300 mg/kg.
- Air-dried, as close to raw as it gets.
- 96% fresh-meat ingredients.
- Can be used as a food topper.
- 312 calories per scoop.
- 38% Protein, 30% Fat, 2% Fiber.
This premium recipe offers the highest Glucosamine level on this list. It also has the highest level of protein at 38%. This recipe made from 96% fresh meat. It also lists cartilages, organs and bones in its ingredients. It carries that all-important whole prey meat ratio that was mentioned earlier. This recipe is also grain-free for those with sensitive stomachs, and there are no added sugars or glycerin. The only additives are vitamins and minerals that your pup needs.
The kibble is made by an air-dry process. This not only preserves the nutrients as much as possible, but it also eliminates pathogenic bacteria. The food comes in a much smaller bag than the rest of the recommendations on this list. This is because it is jam-packed with superior goodness, your pup needs much less compared to standard kibble.
We love that this offers one of the very best Glucosamine levels available on the market. You can also buy it without a Veterinary prescription. It’s also better than many foods that require a prescription. It also includes Green Mussels which are one of the richest Glucosamine sources around!
Diamond Naturals Large Breed
- Glucosamine: 750 mg/kg.
- Made for Large breeds.
- No corn, wheat or fillers.
- Enzymes to support digestion.
- Made in the United States.
- 327 Calories per cup.
- 23% Protein, 13% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.
This recipe is tailored for large breeds again, and although it does not offer the highest amount of protein on this list, it does list chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients which are a natural source of Glucosamine. It lists kale, blueberries, pumpkins and coconut, all of which are superfoods and antioxidants which provide him with the nutrients that he needs and would not get from raw meat diet alone. It also has dried beet pulp and dried chicory root which are both a great fiber source for his digestive system.
We love that this is one of the most affordable kibbles on the list, but it does not have the lowest level of Glucosamine!
So you are now sure that you’ve found the higher Glucosamine kibble for you, and more importantly, your dog, but you can’t just jump straight in! You will need to transition him over to his new higher Glucosamine diet slowly because a quick switch will only upset his stomach. Below you can find our transitional chart that you should follow when changing his diet. Even if your dog has a hardy gut, do not be tempted to rush the transitional process, otherwise he will likely get a poorly tummy, and both him and the rest of the family will not be very pleased with you!
You also need to remember just because he might show improvements within the first 30 days of eating the new kibble and other raw meat treats, does not mean his mobility is cured. Just as Glucosamine starts working in 30 days, it also starts wearing off within 30 days, so don’t return to your old kibble. He needs to be given Glucosamine daily for it to be effective, and therefore it is something that needs to be included in his diet for the rest of his life.
25% New Food
50% New Food
75% New Food
Don’t Forget The Vet
Please remember that we are not your Veterinarian, and therefore we cannot offer tailored or specific advice about your beloved dog. So, while the products in this guide really are the some of the best higher Glucosamine kibbles around, your dog might need a specific diet or prescribed supplements that are much higher in Glucosamine.
For this reason, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from joint or mobility issues then you really need to get him checked out to see if he needs anything over and above the standard recommended daily allowance of Glucosamine. It’s also possible that your vet may prescribe a dog food with higher fiber content, so it’s always important to make sure you get your vet’s opinion.
Overall, Glucosamine is extremely important for your dog ‘s joints. You should pick the very best kibble that is going to offer higher Glucosamine content. While it is unlikely that he will ever reach his daily allowance with dry dog kibble alone, dry dog kibble plays a crucial role in his nutrition. This is why it’s important to include it in his diet.
Picking from one of our recommendations above will ensure that your dog is getting the very best levels of Glucosamine. All of the above recommendations are natural products that each have their advantages. You are bound to find one in our list that is perfect for both you and your pup. And if you chuck in some chicken feet or beef trachea as a treat during the day, then he will undoubtedly get his much-needed Glucosamine and Chondoitrin levels to protect and improve his joints.
Just remember that each dog is different, and each dog has its own nutritional needs. Be sure to involve your Veterinarian in any nutrition plans with your pup. You might not find him in your Yoga class doing the downward dog position, but you will certainly see an improvement in his mobility if you increase his Glucosamine intake! While Glucosamine might not be the sexiest of subjects, it’s important to be aware of your pup’s needs. We hope we’ve enlightened you a little bit more on the topic.