Over the years you’ve watched your dog grow from loveable puppy to gangly adolescent to placid middle-age to sagacious senior. He’s been at your side through all the potty training, trips to the vet, walks in the park, and countless hours of cuddling.
But he’s no longer the spry young pup of his youth.
The tell-tale signs are there – he’s slowed down, has trouble getting up, moves stiffly, and maybe even favors a leg. Though he can’t express it in words, he’s starting to feel his age.
Just as we are prone to body aches and hip joint pains, dogs often experience soreness and stiffness as they grow old and begin to suffer from degenerative joint conditions. Osteoarthritis is especially common among aging dogs, affecting 20% over the age of one.
So what can you do to ease his pain?
While you can’t stop the aging process, there are steps that you can take to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
Here we dive deep into the vast and perplexing world of joint supplements for dogs to learn how you can keep your old pup healthy and happy into old age with the best joint care.
- When Do Dogs Require Hip and Joint Supplements?
- Do Joint Supplements Work? What Science Says!
- What to Look For In Hip & Joint Supplements for Dogs
- From Arthritis to Overall Joint Pain: 5 Tips to Know Before Buying
- Bring the Life Back To Your Pooch! Best Joint Supplements for Dogs
- Brand Spotlight: Vets Preferred Advanced Joint Support
- A Natural Way! Joint Health Supplements for Dogs
- What Works? What Doesn’t?
- Your Pup Will Thank You!
When Do Dogs Require Hip and Joint Supplements?
Much as an apple a day keeps the doctor away, joint supplements may help keep the vet at bay.
As a dog ages, his body produces less glucosamine, a naturally-occurring compound found in joints that helps the body repair tissues and cartilage.
While the active ingredients in joint supplements – often glucosamine or chondroitin – can’t cure or reverse osteoarthritis, a preventative regime can do wonders to slow the onset of joint degeneration and keep your pet pain-free and mobile for as long as possible.
So how do you know whether – and when – you should be giving joint supplements for dogs?
While all sizes and breeds are affected by the effects of old age, there are certain dogs that are susceptible to earlier onset and more severe symptoms.
Large breeds, already prone to joint and skeletal conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, are at a significant risk of developing more severe signs and early symptoms of osteoarthritis. Some vets recommend starting large-breeds and other dogs predisposed to develop the condition (as a result of conformation or injury) on a joint supplement regime at a young age, as early as 8 weeks.
While most of these supplements are perfectly safe for puppies, be sure to watch out for side effects like a gastrointestinal upset.
At the same time, if your dog is already in the late stages of bone-on-bone osteoarthritis, joint supplements won’t do anything to help repair the damage or alleviate the symptoms. But if you catch it early on, supplements can help to protect and promote health in the unaffected joints.
That’s why prevention is key!
Do Joint Supplements Work? What Science Says!
While the use of joint supplements, specifically glucosamine, has been shown to be effective in promoting cartilage and joint health in humans – glucosamine is a registered drug in Europe approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis and joint health and designated an “over the counter” dietary supplement in the U.S. – there is less consensus on the efficacy of glucosamine and joint supplements generally in dogs.
A recent review points to a dearth of high-quality, objective clinical trials and the fact that trials conducted to-date have yielded mixed results. Despite these inconclusive findings, several studies show preliminary signs of the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in subjectively-assessed measures of pain.
The review also points out that while the clinical benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin remain uncertain, their adverse effect profiles are benign.
In non-sciencey terms: joint supplements are not going to hurt your pooch.
Moreover, many vets report seeing improved mobility and weight-bearing and decreased levels of pain in dogs taking products containing glucosamine and chondroitin.
What to Look For In Hip & Joint Supplements for Dogs
There is an array of joint supplements for dogs on the market at various price points and degrees of effectiveness.
When determining which supplement is right for your dog, it is important to factor in considerations like cost and the delivery form (capsule or chewable tablet, liquid, powder, injection), and most importantly, the type and severity of their condition.
When choosing a glucosamine supplement, stick to those that contain either glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) or glucosamine sulfate, as glucosamine KCL is thought to be of lower quality.
Glucosamine sulfate, stabilized with sodium chloride, is the most common type of glucosamine and has been studied the most in human and animal clinical trials. Glucosamine hydrochloride is a more concentrated version that contains significantly less sodium but has been subject to less research and therefore benefits from less evidence demonstrating its effectiveness.
Look for products that contain both glucosamine and chondroitin, as studies show that they are more effective when used together.
Glucosamine works as a natural anti-inflammatory by regulating the synthesis of collagen in cartilage, while chondroitin enhances cartilage elasticity and thickness by inhibiting destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage.
Working like some anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine and glucosamine chondroitin helps with joint care and joint problems in pets.
Supplements that contain MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, are thought to aid in digestion and absorption, helping your dog process all that glucosamine and chondroitin more efficiently.
Furthermore, MSM, which is a sulfur compound essential in preventing cartilage erosion, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory to help combat rheumatoid arthritis. Many products contain ascorbic acid or manganese as well, which also aid in digestion.
From Arthritis to Overall Joint Pain: 5 Tips to Know Before Buying
- Do your research! While there are a lot of great products on the market, there are also some sub-par ones and even outright scams, so you should only buy from reputable sources. And because joint supplements for dogs vary in strength and active ingredients, it’s important to understand your pal’s needs and find the appropriate product to match them.
- On that note, always speak with your vet before starting your pet on any kind of medication or supplement regime to gain an understanding of his specific condition and needs. It’s also important to monitor your dog’s behavior on a new supplement and to discontinue its use immediately if he’s exhibiting any adverse side effects.
- Set realistic expectations. While hip joint supplements for dogs can do a lot to slow down the degenerative process that comes with aging, they are powerless to reverse it or stop it altogether. Take a proactive approach and consider putting your pup on supplements before he hits old age, particularly if he’s predisposed to developing degenerative diseases like arthritis.
- The benefits of joint supplements will be at their strongest when your dog is already active and healthy. Even the most potent supplement won’t have much of an effect if your pooch is drastically overweight, as his joints will be exposed to additional pressure under all that extra poundage. To maximize supplements’ effectiveness, make sure your dog is getting a nutrient-rich diet and plenty of exercise.
- Many joint supplements for dogs contain additional vitamins and minerals like omega-3s fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin C, which may aid in digestion and offer general health-boosting effects (you can find these in fish oil, salmon oil, and more). Just note that the amount of these ingredients contained per dosage may or may not be enough to offer real benefits. For example, the required dosage of omega-3s for dogs with osteoarthritis is 5,000 mg/day EPA, or approximately 25 capsules two times a day. Safe to say that the number of fatty acids present in such joint supplements does fine for promoting healthy skin and shiny coats, but not so much for fighting joint degeneration.
Bring the Life Back To Your Pooch! Best Joint Supplements for Dogs
Here we sort through some of the most popular joint supplement brands to help you determine which one is right for your pets and their joint problem.
Cosequin for Dogs
As the number one vet-recommended joint health supplement, Cosequin by Nutramax tops the list here.
With just 100% pure sodium chondroitin sulphate, 99% pure glucosamine hydrochloride, and manganese, these chewable tablets contain the key ingredients to effectively combat joint degeneration.
The supplement comes in three strengths: standard Cosequin for dogs suffering from mild joint pain and discomfort, Cosequin DS (double strength) for those experiencing the onset of more serious arthritis and joint pain, and Cosequin DS Plus MSM for dogs with severe arthritis requiring higher levels of glucosamine and the digestion-aiding properties of MSM.
Dasuquin for Dogs
Available as chewable tablets and soft chews, Dasuquin with MSM [https://www.certapet.com/dasuquin-joint-supplement-for-dogs/] is also made by Nutramax and contains two of the same primary active ingredients found in Cosequin, glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate, in addition to a few other key ingredients that make it the brand’s most complete joint health supplement.
Over-the-counter Dasuquin with MSM also contains avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) powder, which works to protect the cartilage matrix against damage caused by structural changes that take place in osteoarthritis and has been shown to amplify the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin.
In addition to the above three ingredients, Dasuquin Advanced is imbued with MSM, manganese, and a proprietary blend consisting of Boswellia serrata extract, Curcuma longa extract, green tea extract, and alpha-lipoic acid, all thought to aid in pain relief and anti-inflammation.
Tri-Acta HA for Dogs
TRI-ACTA H.A. by Integricare is designed to protect against cartilage deterioration while actively working to reduce pain and inflammation, repair worn out cartilage, and improve joint fluid viscosity.
It comes in a powder form and contains a list of familiar ingredients – both glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine HCL, chondroitin, and MSM – plus hyaluronic acid (HA).
HA is the primary component of the synovial fluid that cushions and lubricates the joints. TRI-ACTA H.A. works to replenish the hyaluronic acid that is lost and becomes less viscous as your dog ages, promoting cartilage acceleration and joint tissue health.
Brand Spotlight: Vets Preferred Advanced Joint Support
Vets Preferred Advanced Joint Support
Vets Preferred Advanced Joint Support is another outlet when you’re considering pain relief resources for your loving friend.
With the help of glucosamine & chondroitin, your dog can maintain healthy joints and/or have more mobility making some of the pain go away.
It’s tough when he or she has arthritis and has a problem getting around. With Vets Preferred Advanced Joint Support, you can now let your dog feel a little better and put the smile back on their face.
Made from one hundred percent natural, veterinarian-grade glucosamine and chondroitin, you can rest assured that your pup is getting only the highest quality.
Guaranteed to help promote joint health and bone strength while preventing premature hip and joint diseases, these supplements are sure to have your bud feeling like his old self in no time!
A Natural Way! Joint Health Supplements for Dogs
Here we profile a few of the most popular all-natural remedies for reducing pain and inflammation and promoting joint health.
Tumeric for Joint Health in Dogs
Long-used as an anti-inflammatory in various Southeast Asian cultures, turmeric has gained in popularity as a natural alternative to treat a range of conditions, from arthritis and joint inflammation to cysts and even cancer, in both humans and dogs.
Turmeric owes its healing powers to curcumin, the active ingredient found in the spice that carries some pretty powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
While turmeric may sound like the ultimate elixir, it’s important to not overdo it, as side effects may include upset stomach and nausea and even gallbladder issues and iron deficiency.
Avoid commercial turmeric products, which often contain levels of curcumin that are unsafe for dogs, and try making your own “golden paste” instead.
Glucosamine for Dogs
We’ve already seen many of the benefits that glucosamine offers.
As one of the more extensively researched and vet-recommended treatments available on the market, you can feel confident that glucosamine for dogs will be safe.
Though it doesn’t have many negative side effects, there is a small chance that your dog could have an allergic reaction to the supplement itself. When introducing glucosamine into your pup’s diet, be on the lookout for symptoms of an adverse reaction such as vomiting/diarrhea, fatigue, increased urination and thirst, and difficulties breathing.
CBD Oil for Joint Health
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is derived from the hemp or cannabis plant. If you’re thinking that this sounds suspiciously like marijuana, you would be correct.
While both come from the same plant, CBD contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties.
Instead of stimulating a “high” in your dog, CBD induces a calming sensation while providing a whole lot of health benefits – easing anxiety, treating seizures and epilepsy, reducing inflammation, and relieving chronic pain and arthritis.
Brand Spotlight: Honest Paws Pain Relief CBD Dog Treats
What if your dog experiences anywhere from mild to severe pain?
Might be from cancer, arthritis, any joint and mobility problems, inflammation, or just overall pain.
What if they are prone to certain diseases like liver or kidney disease? All of it hurts for you to see them in that condition, especially with all the prescriptions, surgeries, and countless vet visits that rack up.
With Honest Paws Pain Relief CBD Dog Treats, you can help ease that pain and give them comfort without the excess pills and whatnot.
We know this treat can’t cure cancer or diseases, and we are not encouraging you to stop all the medicine prescribed to your dog (that’s up to your vet), but it can help them feel better and lead an easier life like all doggies should.
Deer Antlers for Joint Health
Deer and elk antlers, or the velvet from those antlers, rather, has been touted as the latest and greatest all-natural miracle product. Comprised of almost 40 key compounds and 400 active ingredients, antler velvet is indeed a veritable superfood.
Because it contains all three glycosaminoglycans – glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate, hyaluronic acid – it is thought to aid in repairing joint structures and cartilage, alongside having lubricating and anti-inflammatory properties.
Though the precise mechanism of action has not been determined, a 2004 study found that dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis experienced the quality of life and performance improvements after receiving 30- and 60-day schedules of high-quality elk velvet antler powder supplement.
A cautionary note: the velvet must be harvested – a.k.a. the antlers must be removed – from live deer about halfway through their growth stage. While suppliers insist on the humane and painless nature of this process, we encourage you to read up on the procedure and determine for yourself how you feel.
What Works? What Doesn’t?
While there is a little consensus from clinical trials around the efficacy of various joint supplements for dogs, studies have shown that supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin are effective in combatting symptoms of osteoarthritis and improving the quality of life of dogs who suffer from this debilitating disease.
With the proper dosage and appropriate treatment for your dog’s specific needs, joint supplements provide an easy, cost-effective way to counteract the aches and pains of old age.
Your Pup Will Thank You!
Practice prevention and get your pup started early on a joint health regime. This means providing not only joint support supplements but a nutritious and well-balanced diet and plenty of play time and exercise.
With care and love and just a little foresight, your companion will stay healthy and pain-free for many years to come.