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Chicken Feet, Beef Tracheas, and Other Natural Glucosamine Sources for Dogs

Updated on September 23, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a small animal veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

My dog playing "catch the coconut leaf." Those rough landings are going to catch up with her some day.
My dog playing "catch the coconut leaf." Those rough landings are going to catch up with her some day. | Source

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

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”.)

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.

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:

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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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Eating chicken feet does require teeth.Chicken feet taste good too, or so I am told.Dogs of all sizes enjoy chicken feet.Dogs enjoy trachea since it is almost pure cartilage.Trachea is often sold with esophagus and other structures, so although the glucosamine levels will be lower, the dog will not mind.Crab and other shellfish are high in glucosamine, but are not always available or easy for a dog to catch. Catching crab does provide some glucosamine, plus it is great for the coat.
Eating chicken feet does require teeth.
Eating chicken feet does require teeth. | Source
Chicken feet taste good too, or so I am told.
Chicken feet taste good too, or so I am told. | Source
Dogs of all sizes enjoy chicken feet.
Dogs of all sizes enjoy chicken feet. | Source
Dogs enjoy trachea since it is almost pure cartilage.
Dogs enjoy trachea since it is almost pure cartilage. | Source
Trachea is often sold with esophagus and other structures, so although the glucosamine levels will be lower, the dog will not mind.
Trachea is often sold with esophagus and other structures, so although the glucosamine levels will be lower, the dog will not mind. | Source
Crab and other shellfish are high in glucosamine, but are not always available or easy for a dog to catch.
Crab and other shellfish are high in glucosamine, but are not always available or easy for a dog to catch. | Source
Catching crab does provide some glucosamine, plus it is great for the coat.
Catching crab does provide some glucosamine, plus it is great for the coat. | Source

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    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      Dr Mark 4 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Shannon, there is a lot of conflicting opinions, but for the smaller dog I would think at least two, and for the larger at least 3. Are they very expensive where you live? If you can find a good source, and they already have joint issues, I would give the smaller dog 4, the larger 6. (Raw chicken feet do not have that many calories but you do need to adjust the amount of commercial dog food you are giving so that your dogs do not become overweight, a big problem for dogs with joint issues.)

      let me know if I can be of any more help.

    • profile image

      Shannon 4 months ago

      My girls weigh 56lbs and 79lbs. I have been giving them one chicken foot a day. Is that enough? How many daily should they be getting? Both have joint issues so started giving these a few weeks ago.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 8 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Chicken feet do not need to be steamed. Raw chicken is much less likely to cause problems and your dog will enjoy them so much more.

    • profile image

      Supeiya 11 months ago

      Hi, thank you for the information. Should the chicken feet be steamed? I read a lot about rush of choking from bone splintering is that a concern with feet? Thanks a lot

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Beef trachea's not bad...a little butter on it helps it slide down the ol' esophagus easier.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Enjoyed the interesting article and the alternative to giving pills. Up, interesting and useful.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Bob, I hope Ajej never has to take aspirin or any other NSAID. Who knows, maybe I will be sitting down to a nice plate of chicken feet every week too! (Hmm, now I understand the ibuprofen part....I am not much into raw beef trachea either, but maybe that is just me.)

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      A chicken foot a day keeps the arthritis at bay. But, I'll take my chances, thanks. Pass the ibuprofen, please. Voted up, useful and interesting.

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