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The Best Joint Supplement for Dogs: How to Choose

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In the same way that we tend to experience more aches and pains as we get a little older, our canine companions feel those same pangs too. Joint pain is common among dogs, especially older pooches and larger breeds.

You might not even notice at first. But one day you’ll realize that your pup isn’t bounding after you as quickly as he or she once did, or that they’re taking longer to get up out of their doggie bed in the morning.

It’s a natural part of aging, and slowing down a bit is something that will happen to just about every dog regardless of breed or health. But is there anything you can do as a pet owner to help your dog feel more comfortable and retain some of that spring in their step?

Joint supplements for dogs can help your pet experience less pain and retain more mobility as they get older. And giving your dog preventative supplements early on may work to maintain their overall joint health and delay the onset of joint pain, stiffness, soreness, and even arthritis.

Let’s take a closer look at joint supplements for dogs so you know what to purchase for your pup.

What Exactly Are Joint Supplements for Dogs?

Best joint supplement for dogs: A labradoodle lies on a bed

You may be wondering: What exactly is a joint supplement? And how does it work for my dog?

A joint supplement is a pill or chewable tablet made to boost joint support and promote joint health. Most joint supplements look similar to your average dog treat.

The ingredients inside a supplement can vary widely, and different types seem to work for different dogs. But with any dog joint supplement, the goal is the same: The reduction of stiffness and pain in your canine companion’s joints.

As a dog ages, the body naturally produces less glucosamine. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that helps to repair tissue and cartilage like what’s found in the joints. With less of the compound being produced, your dog’s joints can’t repair themselves as well. As a result, joint inflammation and pain occur.

The idea of joint supplements, then, is to help replenish compounds like glucosamine that aren’t being produced in the same quantities they once were. So how do you know if your dog should be taking a supplement or not?

Does My Dog Need Joint Supplements?

You may wonder if your dog does, in fact, need a joint supplement to prevent joint pain and inflammation or address it after it’s already affecting your pup.

Generally speaking, almost all dogs can benefit from a joint supplement. But some may need it even more than others. This includes:

  • Large-breed dogs. Many large dog breeds are prone to joint and skeletal conditions, such as elbow or hip dysplasia, and the extra weight they carry puts more pressure on their joints. Supplements can be particularly helpful for preventing joint problems in larger dogs like Great Danes and Mastiffs.
  • Senior dogs. As we’ve seen, older dogs start to produce less glucosamine as they age and are therefore more prone to joint pain and inflammation, as well as osteoarthritis. Joint health supplements given as a dog is reaches older age can help Fido feel more comfortable as time goes on.
  • Dogs with malformations or injuries. If a dog already has a joint or skeletal issue thanks to an injury or birth defect, joint supplements may be recommended by the veterinarian to help maintain good joint health and provide pain relief.

At the end of the day, there’s a simple rule to follow: Ask your veterinarian whether or not your dog will benefit from a joint supplement. They’ll be able to tell you if your pup’s joints need a little assistance or if they’ll be fine until a bit later in life.

What to Look for in Dog Joint Supplements

Best joint supplement for dogs: A dog's face

You’re at the pet store or browsing around Amazon.com, staring at a seemingly endless array of joint supplement options. How do you know what to look for before you purchase?

You’ll want to pick a joint supplement that contains ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, omega–3 fatty acids, and others. Most often, a joint supplement will contain several of these ingredients at the same time.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine, as we’ve already discovered, is a naturally occurring compound that is scientifically proven to stimulate cartilage growth. That cartilage is important for “padding” your dog’s joints. Think of it as a sort of natural anti-inflammatory.

Chondroitin

Chondroitin, sometimes called chondroitin sulfate, is related to glucosamine and inhibits chemicals that destroy cartilage in the body, so it reduces the overall deterioration of cartilage around your dog’s joints.

MSM

Methylsulfonylmethane, usually shortened to MSM, is a sulfur compound that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and helps prevent cartilage erosion.

Omega–3 Fatty Acids

Omega–3 fatty acids, as well as other essential nutrients like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, help aid in digestion. That means your dog is digesting things like glucosamine and chondroitin properly. Fatty acids can be found in fish oil, salmon oil, and other products, so ask your veterinarian about giving your dog these products in addition to a joint supplement.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is another substance found in the connective tissue of your dog’s joints, and it’s important for joint mobility and function. So supplements that contain hyaluronic acid are also sometimes recommended for dogs suffering from joint pain or arthritis.

Turmeric

You might have turmeric in your spice cabinet right now, and you’ll be surprised to learn that it may be beneficial for your dog’s joint health — although it’s not recommended that you give your dog anything from your spice jars.

Turmeric has long been used as an anti-inflammatory in Asian cultures, and it can benefit your dog as well. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and that’s why you may find it included in some joint supplements for dogs.

Dog Joint Supplements With Beneficial Ingredients

Ask your veterinarian for more information on what kind of ingredients might work best for your pet. Some popular options when it comes to joint supplements for dogs include:

  • Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus with MSM. These chewable tablets are well respected when it comes to joint health supplements for dogs. They contain glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, and magnesium, which can also be helpful for maintaining joint cartilage.
  • PetHonesty Advanced Hip+Joint Chews. Ingredients like turmeric, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM, plus Vitamins E and C, make these chews great for reducing joint inflammation and helping to rebuild joint cartilage.
  • ProSense Advanced Strength Glucosamine Chew Tablets. This is a glucosamine supplement designed to combat serious joint pain and might be recommended for dogs suffering from arthritis. It contains 650 mg of glucosamine per dose, higher than most joint supplements.
  • Doggie Dailies Glucosamine for Dogs. These soft chews are extremely flavorful and contain multiple active ingredients to help your dog’s joint health, including fish oil.
  • Infinite Pet Supplements All-Natural Hip and Joint Supplement. Pet owners looking for an all-natural option have choices, too. These are made with organic turmeric, glucosamine, and MSM.

Before feeding any kind of supplement to your dog, it’s always best to run it by your veterinarian to make sure it’s beneficial and safe for your pup. You’ll want to make sure none of the ingredients in the product you choose can cause harmful side effects. (Too much turmeric, for example, could cause a minor upset stomach and raise their internal body temperature a bit.)

So, What Does the Best Joint Supplement for Dogs Look Like?

There are certainly plenty of options to choose from when picking out dog joint supplements. How can you know what the best supplement is to help your dog have healthy joints and minimal pain, especially as they get older?

Look for treats that have the key ingredients for proper joint care: Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and omega–3 fatty acids. Supplements containing things like hyaluronic acid, turmeric, or magnesium can also be beneficial.

Most dogs like soft chew supplements, but cater to your dog’s preferences as far as texture and taste are concerned. And make sure to check with your veterinarian before giving your dog a supplement for joint health — just to make sure it’s a good idea.