Because dogs’ joints are a very confusing and complicated topic for a lot of people, there are lots of incorrect stories about them. You find all kinds of ideas from people who are not vets or even vets by association giving all kinds of recommendations for joint supplements for dogs.
These days, shark cartilage, turmeric, and Boswellia serrata are buzzwords. Every dog parent is concerned about their pup’s health. And we all love to see our dogs live happy, painless lives at whatever cost to us.
And you know that cost doesn’t always have to be monetary. Sometimes, that cost might just be spending that extra time finding out the truth about joint supplements for dogs. And we are more than ready to help with that.
If you’ve asked the question “which is the best joint supplement for dogs?”, we might not be able to help you completely there though. Even the world of science cannot sufficiently answer that question. The research on canine joints are really too inadequate to make any concrete conclusions.
However, we have done our best job getting the most accurate information on joint supplements for dogs. We have also analyzed the different joint supplements for dogs currently available to give you the lowdown on them without all the hype.
By the end of this article, you would understand a lot more about joint health in dogs and how to keep it topnotch with joint supplements for dogs.
Table of Contents
What Are Joint Supplements For Dogs?
Joint supplements for dogs usually come as pills, taken to help improve a dog’s movement by keeping his joints strong. Joint supplements for dogs contain different ingredients which help to keep your dog from developing joint problems like arthritis as seniors. And for senior dogs already with this condition, joint supplements can help to manage the condition so it doesn’t get worse.
Now, this is an ideal situation. It’s left to find out if these supplements actually work, and trust us, we will. But for now, let’s look at some common issues that dogs experience with their joints and hips.
When it comes to joint problems, dogs and humans pretty much go through the same thing. The pain, at least at the fundamental level, is also pretty much the same. The discomfort and pain experienced by dogs are often unbearable.
You’ve probably come face to face with that pain before. Maybe you’ve seen a puppy or senior struggling to stand or sit. Or maybe you saw a dog limping as he whimpered in pain. Aching joints are simply the worst.
It’s also called the “too rapid growth disease”. And from this moniker you can probably guess what this disease is about. Some other people refer to it in simpler terms too – “growing pains”.
However you choose to address the condition, it is still a pretty painful one. It’s usually experienced mostly by puppies of giant breeds and not-so-giant breeds — what you’d call the large breeds.
Currently, no one knows what really triggers this condition, and a number of factors are currently listed as suspects. Some say it might be hereditary while some other factors like a puppy’s diet or lifestyle choices are also suspected to be triggers for the condition.
So, based on this premise, it is said that a good diet might (emphasis on the “might”) help to reduce a dog’s chances of getting osteochondrosis. It would require a lot of modification and careful monitoring though. But it could help to regulate and steady the growth of these puppies from puppyhood to adulthood.
Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis)
This is brought on by a number of triggers, and this time, these triggers are known. Oftentimes, the first signs of osteoarthritis are displayed in puppyhood. If a puppy suffers from certain developmental abnormalities like osteochondrosis which we discussed, it could be a trigger.
Also, dogs who inherit certain deformities from their parents are at a much higher risk of experiencing degenerative joint diseases than others.
And in yet other cases, it might just be nature taking its course. Healthy or not, joints will eventually wear out. This would cause the joints to breakdown and then lead to osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can be recognized by a number of symptoms. Some of them include scarring, swelling. lameness, bone thickening, muscle wasting.
This literally translates to mean a socket that’s malformed. It could occur anywhere there’s a joint in a dog. So that means, anywhere from the shoulder to the hip, to the elbow can suffer the condition.
According to research, dysplasia is hereditary. That is, it can be passed down from a parent dog to their offspring. However, it’s a condition that mostly affects larger breed dogs. It hardly affects the smaller ones. This is not to say that small breeds can’t suffer the condition, it’s just more peculiar to the larger ones.
Dysplasia, thankfully, can be treated. But there’s only one way this can happen and that is by corrective surgery. If this is not done on time, the dog condition will gradually degenerate to the point where your dog could become permanently lame.
This refers to the inflammation of certain joints in the body. It is experienced by both humans and dogs.
Arthritis is of different types and can be caused by a number of factors. Sometimes, it’s an autoimmune problem, other times it’s an infection or a cancer.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs range from stiffness to joint swelling to a buildup of fluid.
As to what causes arthritis, it is known to be hereditary in certain dogs, but purebred and hybrid dogs are prone to developing arthritis later in life.
Now, this is a problem of the really tiny dogs. It’s also called “trick kneecap” sometimes. A luxated patella is described by the sliding of the kneecap joint from its socket. So, yeah, you could refer to it as a form of dislocation of the knee joint.
The first thing to be done if your pup experiences such is to try to fix it manually. That is, you’re going to have to try to put the kneecap where it’s supposed to be. Then, you can allow the socket to heal.
This condition is also hereditary and can cause severe motility problems. Some of those problems include limping (on a good day), deformation of cartilages and joints, and lameness.
What Dog Breeds Are Naturally Susceptible To Joint Problems?
Any dog at all can come down with joint problems. But still, there are certain dogs that have higher chances simply because of their genetic makeup.
So, some free tips before we get to the main issue at hand.
One, if you buy a puppy, make sure you make some very important enquiries first. Be sure to ask if any of the parents or siblings of your puppy have ever shown signs of a joint problem.
Tip two, for dogs that are already members of the family, check with your vet if you worry for their joint health. Your vet could recommend some exercises, diet plans, as well as activities to avoid if need be.
Now, let’s get to the dog breeds that are naturally predisposed to joint problems. We saw at this iheratdogs.com and decided to share. Enjoy!
1. German Shepherds
German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are naturally predisposed to arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Because labs stand a very great chance of gaining weight to the point of being obese, they also risk suffering joint problems. Logically, a heavier body mass would weigh down more on the joints leading to joint problems. This could occur especially around the elbows and hips.
The natural long, low profile of the Dachshunds makes them unfortunately prone to developing joint problems. It gets worse if the dog gets overweight. Parents of Dachshunds should make it a point to avoid putting stress on their necks and backs. By doing this, you can eliminate their chances of suffering injuries to their spine.
The size of the Rot makes it naturally predisposed to arthritis, as well as elbow and hip dysplasia. They are also prone to developing osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD).
Because they grow so big so fast, they are prone to developing arthritis. And not just that and elbow and/or hip dysplasia. Worse still, they tend to develop this at quite a young age too. Poor things!
6. Great Danes
Just like other large breeds, their super-fast growth rate and size puts them in the danger of developing arthritis and elbow and/or hip dysplasia.
7. Saint Bernards
Same with Newfoundlands and Great Danes.
8. Old English Sheep Dogs
Of course, it’s a large risk with the risk of suffering hip dysplasia in addition to a much-reduced chance of developing arthritis.
Types Of Joint Supplements For Dogs
Joint supplements are grouped into three broad classes depending on their function. We will list the three basic types. However, it is still important to ask your vet before you get any type.
1. There are the preventative joint supplements. These ones help to ensure that your dog’s joints remain in great shape. The idea is that with strong, healthy joints, you can forestall any chance of developing joint problems later in life.
2. Then there are the treatment joint supplements. These ones specifically repair the damage that has already been done to a joint.
3. Finally, there are the nourishing joint supplements. These supplements are given to your dog to help his body produce healthy and strong joints.
Now, it’s time for us to look into every individual joint supplement and find out what they are really about. You’ll finally find out which are just hype and which are actually effective.
Glucosamine sounds like the marriage between an amino acid and a sugar, right? Well, it’s actually what the experts call an amino sugar. However, this one does not get involved with the glucose pathway.
Glucosamine is a component of cartilage matrices. As a building block of these matrices, glucosamine helps to stimulate cartilage cells to grow. The supplement is quite ubiquitous which also makes it very affordable – cheap, in fact.
Now, don’t get lost, we aren’t talking about glucosamine sulfate here. We are actually talking about glucosamine hydrochloride. According to Dr. Matt Brunke (DVM, CCRP, CVPP, CVA), the former is absorbed by a dog’s body better than glucosamine hydrochloride but still it hasn’t shown any significant synovial tissue activity from studies.
And if a joint supplement is to work, it has to, at least, show up in the areas it is needed in the first place.
For glucosamine to do its therapeutic work, it has to be administered at between 500 milligrams to 1000 milligrams for the average 75-pound dog, says Dr. Brunke. So, doing the math, it places the dosage at about 15 milligrams per kilogram of dog weight.
Now, to the big question: does glucosamine hydrochloride work?
Once, there was a random trial involving 35 dogs, all of which were confirmed to be suffering from osteoarthritis. In this trial, the dogs were given glucosamine hydrochloride together with chondroitin sulfate. As control, carprofen was used.
Glucosamine treated the condition at a rate much slower than carprofen but then it worked. The symptoms were relieved significantly by the 70th day.
This supplement functions, primarily by inhibiting the activity of some enzymes responsible for the destruction of cartilage. However, chondroitin sulfate is quite difficult to produce, of course, this ultimately affects the cost. So, in comparison with glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin is quite expensive.
Before chondroiton sulfate is processed or anything, it exists as a really large molecule. And in this state, its degree of absorbability is very varied. But then, many dog supplement companies try to make lighter versions so that they can be more easily absorbed in the gut.
Dosage is quite similar to what you have with glucosamine hydrochloride. And there’s this synergistic power that chondrotin sulfate and glucosamine bring when used together. It’s quite unlike any other supplement.
Dr. Brunke also says if you give your dog this supplement regularly, when your dog eventually comes down with an injury, inflammation would be greatly reduced.
We have examined each of this party together but since they are usually administered together too, it might be a good idea to look into that too.
Research has been carried out on just how effective this combo is. Sadly, there are only inconclusive shreds of evidence to show for it. There’s nothing to say outright that this combination is particularly effective as when used together.
Well, at least, it’s not harmful to your dog. According to research, a glucosamine/chondroitin combo is generally benign to your dog.
Finally, glucosamine/chondroitin is usually also usually recommended with one last musketeer – MSM. MSM is one of the types of sulphur we have which we will explain later. But for now, if your vet recommends a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin, then it might not be such a bad idea to try it. At least, no one gets hurt.
Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs)
Yeah, we know… The name sounds weird. Anyway, weird though it may be, it boasts some great function in preserving joint health. The supplement helps to keep the matrix of joint cartilage protected by keeping some materials from doing their work which often results in structural damage.
Alright, let’s take that more slowly. There are some materials in joint cartilages called mediators. Some of these mediators are not really good people, per se. If left uninhibited, they could cause a series of changes in the joint which could lead to structural damage. At the end, the dog might then experience osteoarthritis.
In addition to keeping these mediators in check, ASUs also help to facilitate the healing process of osteochondral defects. They do this by stimulating certain growth factors in the tissues which result in the healing of the affected knee.
Dr Brunke advises that ASUs be given daily and that the dosage be dependent on the size of the dog in question.
ASUs are kinda like NSAIDs in that they both take a while before their effects kick in. The same way you have it in chondroitin and glucosamine. However, if you take ASUs together with chondroitin and glucosamine, you not only increase potency, you also cut down on the quantity of chondroitin that would, otherwise, have been required.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This is another set of joint supplements for dogs that’s super effective. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids, do not just work for the joints, they are great for other vital organs as well. Some of these vital organs include: the kidneys, the heart, and the immune system.
Now, although they are all omega-3, Dr. Brunke reveals that some omega-3 are more equal than others. For instance, he explains that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both gotten from wild coldwater fish are the crème de la crème of omega-3 fatty acids.
The doctor doesn’t seem to take a high level of fancy to farm-raised fish. According to him, they have very few omega-3 fatty acids, and too many omega-6.
It’s been found that dogs fed with an omega-3 supplemented diet and placed on carpofen needed less carpofen. When treating osteoarthritis, Dr. Brunke recommends that EPA and DHA be administered together. He suggests a dosage of 100 milligram per kilogram of dog weight.
Naturally, this part of a chicken comes packed with collagen, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and glucosamine. How well a dog’s joints will absorb these nutrients from this source is still unknown though. The only data currently available is on its efficacy in humans with osteoarthritis. As for dogs, there is no data on them yet.
No one really knows for sure how green-lipped mussels do their thing in dog joints. But this is one joint supplement for dogs that actually does work, somehow. Here’s what has been observed, though:
In a study conducted in 2013, dogs fed a green-lipped mussel supplemented diet showed an increase in the concentration level of omega-3 fatty acids in their plasma. Plus, their vertical force was also much improved as well.
However, whether this improvement will be consistent is another story as there isn’t any data that proves that. As a standard, green-lipped mussels are administered at the dosage of 77 milligrams per kilogram.
Boswellia serrata is an extract obtained from trees, and it has been reported to have an effect just like NSAIDs. Osteoarthritis, as presented symptomatically as a stiff gait, intermittent lameness, and local pain, has been relieved by this extract. Dr. Brunke explains that in a study conducted in 2004, dogs who showed any or all of these symptoms and were placed on Boswellia, showed significant improvement after 6 weeks.
As a standard dose, Boswellia serrata is administered at 50 milligrams per kilogram of dog weight.
There are some algae that really understand life principles. Like, when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. For instance, there is this group of algae (the red algae) that tend to secrete an antioxidant when they are stressed. This antioxidant is so powerful, it also works as a powerful joint supplement for dogs. It’s called astaxanthin.
Quick fun fact: this astaxanthin actually turns its eaters pink. So, flamingos aren’t actually pink by nature. They are actually grey! But yeah, you guessed it. After a delicious meal of algae, they turned pink and have since stayed that way.
Astaxanthin is so effective that it’s a popular natural option when looking for joint supplements for dogs. It helps to reduce the effect of inflammation and pain. Plus it also cleans out cells around the body.
And it’s not just joints, astaxanthin also looks out for other organs like the heart and the immune system. And being an antioxidant, it helps to slow down aging and prevents cancers.
Astaxanthin can be used by humans and dogs alike. If you get one for dogs, then just follow the instructions on the label. However, if the one you have is for humans, and the weight per dose is not indicated, assume it’s for a 150-pound adult. Now, with this information, adjust the dosage to the size of your dog. That should do the trick.
This oil is actually obtained from the cannabis plant. Yes, the notorious cannabis plant. Now, before you start panicking, listen. Marijuana will make your dog high, and quite frankly, CBD oil can too. However, CBD oil would only make your dog high if it contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at a level of 0.3% or higher.
Legit CBD oil for dogs sold in stores would always contain less than 0.3%.
But if you’re looking for something that does major work, this is one of those. The relief your dog would experience would be immense. Here’s why…
A dog’s body has some structures called cannabinoid receptors. When these receptors are fed with CBD oil, the benefits observed are tremendous.
Dosage of CBD oil should be according to manufacturers’ instructions, always beginning from the lower boundary.
Aside joint health, CBD oil can also be used in the management of seizures and anxiety. Plus, it can even be used to fight cancer in dogs as well!
As the name probably suggests, Chrominex 3+ contains 3 different joint supplements in one. And all three ingredients have been proven scientifically to work for joint support. The three ingredients include:
Chromium: Chromium helps to slow down the rate at which your pooch loses calcium in his bones.
Phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry): This is a superfruit that comes with antioxidizing properties. So, it helps with inflammation and also slows the aging process.
Shilajit: This comes packed with humic extracts and fulvic acid. It’s fantastic at relieving inflammation and pains.
From studies, it has been confirmed that Chrominex 3+ works in dogs to reduce pain in the joints and arthritis too. For healthy joints, chrominex can also help to give structural support. Plus, it facilitates improved blood flow and helps to control weight gain.
Some Joint Supplements For Dogs That Might Just Be All Hype
Some people are of the opinion that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties. And for this reason, they recommend it as a treatment option for dogs with osteoarthritis. Well, while studies have definitely proved this, there’s a little trouble.
The standard extracts of curcumin are not easily absorbed by dogs. In fact, they absorb quite poorly. So, their efficacy is already hindered.
As for turmeric, another highly touted miracle supplement. Turmeric is where curcumin is derived. That’s probably one of the reasons it is touted as one of the great joint supplements for dogs. But then, it is neither safe nor potent for dogs.
Elk antler supplements have been observed to bring about marked improvement in dogs with osteoarthritis. It even proves effective in humans as well. As you may have observed, NFL players also chew on these antlers while on the sidelines.
It’s not really known how exactly this supplement works and even the dosage isn’t established yet. But hey, don’t get it twisted. The elk antler chews sold by pet stores do not contain the active ingredient contained in natural elk/deer antlers.
Hyper-immune Milk Factor
This joint supplement for dogs contains an active ingredient called duralactin. Duralactin helps to curb inflammation by interfacing with the neutrophils. This keeps them from passing through into the endothelial wall.
Although extensive studies have been conducted on the working of this supplement in humans, little has been done on dogs. There is no official scientific proof that they are effective in dogs.
Tips To Relieve Joint Pain In Dogs
In addition to joint supplements for dogs, there are other things you should consider to help with the condition. Combining these tips with joint supplements should help make things a lot better for your pooch.
Keep Them On A Raw Diet
The problem with high carb dog foods like kibble is their carb content. Carbs have a high glycemic index. And because of this, they easily trigger the release of advanced glycation end (AGE) products.
As the carbs are being processed, inflammation is triggered. This happens almost every time your dog feeds on kibble. Keeping carbs (inflammatory agents) out of your dog’s diet will help to keep pooch’s joints protected.
Also, you should consider including foods rich in antioxidants like astaxanthin and phytoplanktons. Together, these antioxidants will fight oxidative stress, and then prevent inflammation.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
Being overweight puts too much pressure on your dog’s joints. If you maintain your dog’s weight at a healthy level, you can help the joint supplements for dogs work effectively.
A dog with a healthy weight will remove strain from his joints. In turn, this would reduce the possibility of developing inflammations around the joints which is usually caused by excess fat.
Stick With Only The Necessary Vaccines
We bet you didn’t know that taking in vaccines could have adverse effects in dogs. It could cause a dog’s body to begin producing antibodies that destroy collagen. Collagen is a tissue in the body that stabilizes joints.
70% or more of your pooch’s muscles are made of collagen. And this is same for tendons, ligament, muscles, as well as other supportive tissues around the joints. If collagen is broken down, then movement around the affected joints becomes impaired. Also, surrounding and tissues might get brittle as well.
Of course, this would lead to pain, inflammation, and finally, joint disease.
Keeping your dog constantly exercised won’t only keep your dog in shape, it will help the joints. The joint muscles will be well-toned, and the joint fluid will remain viscous.
If the muscle mass of your dog’s joints are kept at a certain optimal level, it helps to protect him from joint disease.
For dogs in pain, strenuous exercise might be unrealistic. So, begin with a short walk regularly. Swimming is another fun exercise you could try as well.
Although NSAIDS relieve inflammation, they also have their side effects. They tamper with your dog’s body’s ability to self heal. And again, they break down cartilage which your dog’s joints need to stay healthy. Understandably, this only compounds your troubles.
There are other grave adverse reactions that come with administering NSAIDs for joint problems. Some of them include: renal failure, liver problems, and gastrointestinal problems.
Keeping your dog’s joints healthy is very important if you want him to remain that happy and active dog you’ve always loved. Vets usually advise that preventative joint supplements for dogs be given to pups with a predisposition to joint issues early. As early as 8 weeks is best. You can go back to this article to find out dog breeds that are particularly predisposed to joint diseases.
That’s all for now, folks. We’re sure we’ve been able to enlighten you a whole lot on joint supplements for dogs. Now, go ahead and do right by your dog!