Chicken Feet, Beef Tracheas, and Other Natural Glucosamine Sources for Dogs
If you have a big dog, or one of the breeds that you know is prone to arthritis, hopefully you are already looking into alternatives to prevent arthritis as he or she gets older. My dog loves to play “catch the coconut leaf” and she will jump up and down for hours. I like to see her enjoy herself but I do worry about the effect on her joints.
So what can I do about it? I am not about to tell her to stop jumping up and enjoying herself, so what I can do is provide her with glucosamine and chondroitin, two of the nutrients that may help prevent the progression of arthritis. They are so good, in fact, that they are labeled and sold as nutraceuticals, or nutrients that act as pharmacological agents.
But are glucosamine and chondroitin going to help prevent arthritis, or are they just going to protect her joints once the arthritis has started? Well, the scientific evidence is not really clear on this, but there are no reports out there that this will help.
I want to do what I can now, while she is healthy, and maybe I can catch the problem even before clinical signs develop. Later, if she does develop any signs and the problem becomes more obvious, I will try to do even more.
Protecting Your Dog From Arthritis
Can I protect my dog by feeding her one of the dog foods that has glucosamine?
Veterinarians will agree that adding glucosamine to an arthritic dog´s diet will provide her with benefits. Some will try to sell a capsule, some will try to sell a prescription dog food, and others will let you know about glucosamine labeled for humans or that other dog foods are available at large pet stores.
Most commercial dog foods, even those that claim that they have high levels of glucosamine, are sadly lacking and will not provide your dog with an adequate dose. If a medium sized dog (about 20kg) needs about 1000mg of glucosamine a day, the most commonly available dog foods will require anywhere from 8 to 20 cups a day to be effective. Since your dog may only need to eat about 3 or 4 cups to stay healthy, dog food is not the way to go.
Glucosamine and Chicken Feet
One chicken foot weighs about 30 grams
Each foot is about 30% cartilage
Cartilage is about 5% glucosamine
Thus: 30 grams x 30% x 5% = 0.45, or 450mg per chicken foot
(This is an estimate. I have a lot of chicken feet I can test but my mass spectrophotometer is in the shop this week and an estimate is the best I can do. None of the companies that sell chicken feet will make this estimate, since they can get away with the vague statement “chicken feet have a lot of glucosamine”.)
Natural Or Manufactured?
Are there good natural sources of glucosamine?
Since none of the dog foods, even the “prescription” diets, contain enough glucosamine for an arthritic dog, should you be buying pills from your vet or drugstore, or should you be providing a natural source of glucosamine?
I think the companies that are producing the pills are not to be trusted. They are not a pharmaceutical and are not closely regulated. My dog gets her glucosamine in shellfish, lobster (well, once!), shrimp, crabs, chicken feet, and beef tracheas—all natural sources!
Natural sources of glucosamine probably provide a lot more of the nutraceutical than what is available in a pill. Some of the foods containing glucosamine also provide vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Others, like beef trachea, are almost pure cartilage and have about 5% glucosamine, so just one 30 gram piece will have about 1400mg, more than the recommended minimum dose to protect a medium-sized arthritic dog.
The best glucosamine supplement for your dog is:
What natural sources should your provide your dog?
I cannot tell you which source of glucosamine is best in your area, but chicken feet are inexpensive everywhere, and should be a viable alternative to those of you who are buying expensive glucosamine supplements from your vet, at your pet store, or even from your drugstore. I currently provide my dog with two feet a day, or about 900mg of glucosamine, and if she develops arthritis later in life, I will increase this to four feet. Four feet a day will be much higher than the clinical minimum dose that is currently recommended. (The only problem with giving too much glucosamine occurs when giving it in an artificial form. As a food, it does not hurt the dog.)
Some cultures are so convinced of the effectiveness of chicken feet that they provide it as a regular meal for geriatric persons with arthritis.
Your arthritic dog deserves that natural source.