What is glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a major component of joint cartilage, the tough, spongy, protective layer that protects the bones in your dog’s joints from rubbing against one other. A naturally occurring amino-sugar produced in your dog’s body, glucosamine helps keep cartilage in good condition. And it helps to protect and maintain healthy canine joints. Glucosamine is pretty important to dogs!
Glucosamine and age
Just like you and I, as your dog ages, its body produces less and less glucosamine. This results in greatly reduced protection for its hard-working joints. Together with normal wear and tear from a lifetime of running around, this can result in degenerative joint diseases. These include osteoarthritis which causes pain and inflammation as the unprotected joints rub against one another.
It makes perfect sense that you should supplement your aging dog’s glucosamine. By protecting your dog’s joints you are helping give he or she a longer, more active and pain-free life. You are also saving yourself considerable expense in terms of increasingly costly – and in this case completely unnecessary – vet bills.
And the earlier you do this the better. If you start when your dog is younger, before any degeneration has started to take place, you minimise the risk of problems later in life. Think of it as an insurance policy for your best friend’s joints!
The problems with synthetic glucosamine
But here’s the rub, if you’ll excuse the pun. The glucosamine in most commercial supplements is obtained by extracting the polysaccharide (long chain carbohydrate molecules) chitin from the exoskeletons of dead crustaceans. In other words, its a by-product of seafood waste. Seafood waste which is increasingly being found to contain lead, mercury and other contaminants as a result of marine polution.
And there are other problems with commercial supplements too. Aside from the fact that it’s not proper glucosamine for dogs. Most of the world’s chitin is processed in the likes of China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. Few facilities exist elsewhere in the world. And China of course does not exactly have the best record when it comes to introducing contaminated materials into Western markets!
There is of course a further wrinkle with such products. Aside from being expensive, they can contain precious little glucosamine and far too many chemicals such as silicon dioxide and stearic acid.
But there’s a natural supplement which is more readily available and which has a great many distinct advantages. Quite aside from the fact that it’s the closest possible supplement to your dog’s own glucosamine. It’s called Bone Broth, it’s 100% natural, it contains no additives, it has zero side-effects, dogs love it and it works!
The advantages of natural glucosamine supplementation
Supplementing your dog’s diminishing glucosamine resources with natural glucosamine means your dog can’t overdose on it. Give it more than it needs and its body will simply dispose of the surplus via its natural processes. Not only that, your dog’s body is used to producing it so it knows exactly how to process it and where to store it. It’s a healing discipline known as ‘using like to heal like’.
The other big advantage of natural glucosamine is that it comes with its own ready supply of chondroitin. That’s another structural component of cartilage. This has to be supplemented in commercial glucosamine products by processing shark cartilag. Because in order for glucosamine to be effective for your dog, it needs to be combined with chondroitin as it is in your dog’s naturally-produced cartilage.
When to start glucosamine supplementation
Since prevention is better than cure, you should consider providing your dog with glucosamine for dogs from the age of about 7. Earlier, perhaps even from the age of 3 or 4 for a larger breed dog. In the case of my own dogs, I supplement whatever the age. Because, apart from anything else, they like the taste of it. And I know it’s good for them on so many levels. I give it to my youngest who is 3 and my eldest who is 7. It’s also ideal for fussy eaters and dogs who don’t drink enough water.
Oh, and it’s become rather trendy with humans right now too!