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As a dog’s body ages, like people, all organs, tissues, and bone structures in the body age as well. Whether your dog is showing signs of arthritis or you’d like to start your pup on a joint supplement early on, you’ve come to the right spot.
Arthritis simply means painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Dogs are really good at hiding pain, so it’s up to diligent dog moms and dads to get a proper diagnosis and choose the best joint supplements for dogs. Any number of things can instigate canine arthritis and joint pain, including age, injury, accidents, and even diet, as overweight dogs are likely to suffer more bone and joint pain along with other issues.
There is no cure for canine arthritis, but there are joint care products for dogs that can help ease pain, inflammation, and coat the joint and cartilage. Including hip and joint support supplements prior to damage can help your dog stay comfortable.
Understanding Dog Joint Health: An Overview
Dogs are an active species. From running after a tennis ball to leaping off a porch, every time a dog engages in some sort of movement or exercise, his joints are involved. Each joint in a dog’s body contains a cartilaginous surface. Cartilage is the spongy, watery pad that absorbs shock each time a bone moves. When cartilage is compromised and bone is damaged from arthritis, dogs feel pain.
As a dog ages, his cartilage thins out and provides less cushion and support to the joint. When joints break down, arthritis and inflammation occur. If the dog’s joint is inflamed, enzymes get released and break down the cartilage. As dogs run, play, jump, and walk, joints are impacted every single time and with every single movement.
Injury and accidents also affect the integrity of bones and joints. For example, my Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, tore his cranial cruciate ligament in both the left and right rear legs one year apart. He had two surgeries performed by a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with success. The surgeon told us to add a joint supplement to Dexter’s regimen to help coat the joint and cut down on pain and inflammation as his body ages.
How Dog Joint Supplements Help
The best joint supplements for dogs are designed to promote healthy cartilage and joint health. Like people, a supplement that works for one dog may not produce the same effect in another.
“I like at risk dogs on basic joint support from a year of age, and dogs with an early diagnosis of joint disorders on it even sooner,” says Dr. Laurie S. Coger of The Healthy Dog Workshop. “These products are most effective prior to the development of arthritis in that they are preventative strategies, not treatments.”
As a dog’s body ages and even before arthritis develops, dogs lose the natural ability to produce healthy cartilage, so joint supplements can help to support a dog’s aging bones. Aging is not a disease, but rather a normal stage of a dog’s life. The dog joint supplements in this article will help guide you in keeping your best buddy active, pain-free, and moving well into his golden years.
Dr. Coger says the best joint supplements for dogs contain ingredients like glucosamine, MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, and herbs such as turmeric and boswellia. For the arthritic dog, she recommends joint supplements in conjunction with physical therapy such as an underwater treadmill, exercises, and low-level laser therapy. My dog is taking a joint supplement in addition to cold laser therapy at home.
How We Ranked Our Top Joint Supplements for Dogs
As a dog mom to several Cocker Spaniels with arthritis, I’ve tried my fair share of joint supplements. I’ve talked to veterinarians, orthopedic surgeons, and other dog parents to get recommendations, opinions, and thoughts on a variety of joint care products for dogs.
For this article, we looked at reviews, ingredients, safety and efficacy, price point, availability for all sizes of dogs, and consumer reviews posted online. When it comes to the joint supplements on this list, there is no one size fits all, so we include a variety of products since no two dogs are alike.
Best Dog Joint Supplement: Overall Winner
Our pick: Dasuquin with MSM by Nutramax
As a young dog, my Cocker Spaniel started on Cosequin and we advanced to Dasuquin after his leg surgeries to promote joint health and help slow the onset of arthritis. We switched to Dasuquin after reading reviews and learning about the additional ingredients, such as ASU (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables), which is an ingredient concentrated directly from avocados and soybeans that is used for joint health. This pick is great for dogs who are slowing down on walks or hesitant to jump or climb into cars.
- Available in a chewable or tablet for both small and large dogs.
- Takes about four to six weeks for dogs to respond, though some dogs respond much sooner.
- Can be used to support joint cartilage in dogs following surgery.
- Contains green tea extract which is rich in antioxidants.
- Dual-synergistic formula to stimulate cartilage via chondroitin sulfate and act in tandem with ASU and glucosamine for joint support.
- Nutramax was founded in 1992 and has a long history of safe, high quality products for dogs and cats.
Things to Consider
- Some reviews mention the dog refuses to eat the chewable version.
- Tablets are thick, so may need to be concealed with cheese or peanut butter.
- Nutramax also makes a Dasuquin Advanced formula available only through veterinarians.
Sample buyer review from Chewy.com: “We have a 14-year-old Schnauzer-Yorkie mix. About five years ago, she started limping. The vet said it is arthritis and recommended Dasuquin. Within a few days we noticed her walking easier, not limping. We have given it to her every single morning since then and she walks and runs no problems.”
Best Joint Chews for Dogs
Our pick: The Anxious Pet Hip & Hop Soft Chews
Most dogs love a moist, chewy peanut-butter-flavored treat, and pet parents love the idea of not trying to sneak a pill into food. These Hip & Hop Soft Chews from The Anxious Pet can be given daily as a reward and joint support treat all in one. Win-win! These joint chews for dogs pack big benefits with glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin—all the things your pup needs for healthy hips and joints.
- Formulated by a veterinarian to support cartilage and connective tissue health.
- Also supports a dog’s immune system
- Contains glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin sulfate, and other ingredients such as boswellia serrata extract, which Dr. Coger recommends.
- Easy-to-administer chewable treat.
- Designed for dogs young and old.
- Peanut-butter flavor is non-allergenic.
Things to Consider
- Should be administered at least once a day.
- Available in peanut butter flavor only.
Sample buyer review from TheAnxiousPet.com: “We have a 13-year-old Lab with hip problems, and some days he can barely walk. Started giving these to him and it’s knocked a few years off. He can now walk on paths he normally avoids due to the steep inclination and is in far less pain.”
Best Senior Dog Joint Supplement
Our pick: Vet Classics Joint Support Plus
Many dogs suffer from hip arthritis as the cartilage wears away. Each soft chew or chewable tablet from Vet Classics is infused with ingredients like sea cucumber, MSM, glucosamine sulfate, and green lipped mussel not found in other joint support products. Specifically designed for dogs over the age of 2 years old, Vet Classics recommends this dog hip and joint supplement especially for senior dogs.
- Designed to help alleviate discomfort from daily exercise.
- Available in a soft chew or chewable tablet.
- Green lipped mussel and sea cucumber combined with MSM and glucosamine sulfate help support connective tissue, synovial fluid, and joint cartilage in dogs.
- Contains powerful antioxidants.
- Contains botanical ingredients to help support liver, kidney, and spleen function.
Things to Consider
- Some reviews indicate the chewable tablet is hard and compressed but easy to snap in half for administration.
- For dogs 2 years of age and older.
- Labeling indicates available through veterinarians only but we found it available online as well.
Sample buyer review from Amazon: “Love this product. I bought my first bottle from my vet who had prescribed it for my dog that tore his ACL. My dog ate the pill easily and it has accelerated the healing.”
Best Large Dog Joint Supplement
Our Pick: Actistatin Canine Large Dog Joint Chews
Larger dogs should be given a joint supplement designed specifically for them. And Actistatin soft chews feature a variety of powerhouse ingredients to help medium and large dogs get moving again. Each chew contains a triple-patented formula that includes glucosamine, chondroitin, manganese, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), and beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants to help support overall joint health. The chews have also been clinically-proven to naturally increase the production of hyaluronan or hyaluronic acid (HA), the synovial joint fluid found naturally in all joints. Pretty cool, right?
- Formulated specifically for large dogs.
- Available in two sizes: 60 chews and 120 chews.
- Combines powerhouse ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, manganese, and MSM.
- Fatty acids and antioxidants also help support joint health.
- Clinically proven to increase joint fluid.
- Often recommended by veterinarians.
- Manufacturer is a member of the National Animal Supplement Council and Natural Products Association.
Things to Consider
- Not recommended for dogs under 30 pounds. Actistatin Small Bites are better suited for smaller dogs.
Best Small Dog Joint Supplement
These easy-to-chew, meat-flavored tablets are veterinarian recommended and though they can be given to large dogs, less are required for small pooches. For dogs under 25 pounds, the initial period is two tablets per day and then one tablet per day thereafter for maintenance. For dogs over 101 pounds, the initial loading dose would be 10 tablets per day and 5 as maintenance. Other than the outstanding aspects of the Cetyl Advanced Joint Tablets, there are less doses involved for smaller dogs.
- Touted as containing a 100 percent plant-derived source of Cetyl Myristoleate from the African Kombo Nut.
- Also contains glucosamine HCl, garlic root, bromelain, and ginger root extract for joint support.
- 120 tablets per bottle, nicely priced.
- Unique blend of esterified fatty acids.
Things to Consider
- More than one tablet per day for an initial four to six-week period of time.
- Contains dried whey if dogs have food sensitivities.
- No specific large dog blend.
Sample buyer review from Amazon: “I have a 12-year-old Boston Terrier that was having problems getting up, much less, walking. After the first 2 weeks I began to see a difference. Now at two months I can say this has made a difference in her life.”
Best Arthritis Supplement For Dogs
Our pick: Liquid Health K9 Glucosamine
According to some estimates, at least 25 percent of all dogs will develop joint mobility issues of some kind in their lifetime. A canine joint supplement used early in life may help joints endure the impact while preserving cartilage function. The Liquid Health K9 Glucosamine supplement scores high points and praise for many reasons.
- Easy-to-use liquid form.
- Combines five supplements in one effective formula.
- Features USP (United States Pharmacopeia) grade glucosamine and chondroitin.
- No sugar, wheat, gluten, yeast, milk, or soy derivatives.
- Perfect for dogs of all ages, see label for weight and dosing suggestions.
Things to Consider
- Has not been proven to be safe in pregnant animals or animals intended for breeding purposes
- Must be refrigerated after opening
- Some dogs may not enjoy a liquid on their food
Sample buyer review from Amazon: “We were about this close to putting our Beagle down because he could barely walk. We were carrying him up and down the stairs and he could only lay on the floor looking all sad. Decided to try this and he’s like a new dog. We go through about a bottle a month.”
Best Joint Treat For Dogs
Our Pick: Bixbi Hip and Joint Dog Treats
Imagine being able to give your dog a USA-sourced grass-fed beef or free-range chicken treat that they think is yummy but you know contains a powerful USA-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin formula. The folks at Bixbi cover all bases with their hip and joint dog treats designed to provide joint relief in dogs as they chew to their heart’s content.
- Ingredients are USA sourced.
- Free of grain, wheat, corn, soy, or sugar.
- Available in beef liver or chicken formulas.
- Rich in glucosamine and chondroitin to support dog hip and joint health.
- 22 percent crude protein in beef liver formula, 26 percent protein minimum in crude chicken formula.
Things to Consider
- Only available in a 12-ounce bag.
- Only available in chicken and beef liver formulas.
- One size treat; always supervise dogs when feeding treats.
- Contains rosemary extract—talk to your vet if your dog has epilepsy before feeding.
Sample buyer review from Amazon: “After spending thousands of dollars at the doggie dentist I definitely wanted a softer treat! One of my dogs has bad hips and the other has some stiffness as they are seniors now and our vet recommended a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement so the Bixbi Hip and Joint Beef Liver Jerky treat is perfect in that it is soft and easy to chew, has the supplements they need, and I like that it is USA sourced and made! Not to mention that I have their full attention when I reach for the yellow bag!”
Keeping Your Dog’s Joints Healthy
Joint health for dogs is something every pet parent should prioritize. Products are designed as preventatives and nutritional supplements but also to treat inflammation and pain as a dog ages. Most joint supplements for dogs contain glucosamine and chondroitin, but others are available with herbs, extracts, and groundbreaking ingredients.
The best approach to managing arthritis and joint care in dogs starts with working with your veterinarian to develop a targeted plan tailored to your pup’s specific needs.
We’d also be remiss without mentioning weight management. Overweight dogs carry excess weight that places additional stress on bones and joints. After safely dropping additional pounds, many pet parents report significant relief, less pain, and more movement in their arthritic dogs. Always work in conjunction with your vet’s recommendations to help a pup drop unnecessary pounds.
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