With all of those daily walks, outdoor adventures, and training sessions, your doggo’s joints do a lot of work throughout his life! With all of that natural wear and tear, you’ll want to be proactive about supporting Fido’s joint health from his first year of puppyhood to his golden senior years.
Keep reading to learn more about dog joint supplements, including when to start using them and how to recognize signs of joint problems in dogs.
What is Glucosamine for Dogs?
Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring compound, meaning your dog’s body naturally produces glucosamine to stimulate cartilage growth (along with other organic materials like tendons and synovial fluid).
That cartilage acts as a protective layer and shock absorber for your dog’s joints; it’s what protects the joints during everyday activities and helps them bounce back from injuries. As your pup grows up, his glucosamine production will naturally decline… and so will his joint health.
This is where glucosamine supplements come in. When (and even before) your dog’s joint health declines, you can start giving him glucosamine supplements to maintain and promote healthy joints.
What is Chondroitin for Dogs?
Chondroitin, also called chondroitin sulfate, is also good for dog joint health. It lubricates the joints, helps with cartilage elasticity, and reduces enzymes that contribute to cartilage breakdown.
Your dog can get chondroitin through food sources such as fish, bird cartilage, pig trachea, and even squid cartilage. You may also see chondroitin as an ingredient listed in his dog food.
Of course, there’s always the option of chondroitin supplements, too.
Are Joint Supplements Safe for Puppies?
All dogs are at risk of developing joint issues, even if their senior years are far ahead of them. Some breeds that are especially predisposed to joint and mobility issues include:
- Great Danes
- German Shepherds
- Basset Hounds
- Golden Retrievers
- Shih Tzus
With that in mind, it’s helpful to start early with joint supplements for your dog—but not TOO early.
You may be familiar with the fact that puppies should only exercise in short bursts, with plenty of time for rest between play sessions. This is because baby Fido’s bones are still forming and his body is still growing, and too much activity can be harmful to developing bones and joints.
Similarly, you’ll want to hold off on giving your puppy any joint supplements until after his first birthday.
That said, some large breeds can start taking joint supplements as early as eight weeks old. Typically, though, you’ll want to wait until your puppy is at least 12 months old. Check with your vet to determine the best time to start giving your pup joint supplements.
Signs Your Dog Needs Joint Supplements
While slowing down is a natural part of aging, joint and mobility issues aren’t exclusive to older dogs. Joint discomfort can be subtle and hard to notice at first—but the earlier it’s detected, the better.
Signs of dog joint discomfort include:
- An overall decrease in physical activity
- Difficulty climbing onto the couch or getting into the car
- Reluctance to go up or down steps
- Sleeping more often and longer than usual
- Loss of interest in playing games or going for walks
- Not wanting to be touched in certain areas
- Excessive licking or chewing near or around the joints
- Limping (or odd form such as bunny hopping) while walking or running
- Swollen joints
- Muscle loss
- Yelping, whining, or other out-of-character vocalization
- Sitting with hind legs stretched out
- Standing with hind legs together, or front legs out wide
General irritability or other behavioral changes, which can indicate discomfort
Whether you notice any of these tell-tale signs or not, it doesn’t hurt to start giving your dog dietary supplements in order to give his joints (and the rest of his body) a boost. Supplements don’t just address existing health problems; they can also maintain health and keep additional issues at bay.
Not sure where to start? Try Pet Honesty’s 10-for-1 Multivitamin. These tasty chews combine a well-rounded blend of vitamins and supplements (including glucosamine) to support your dog’s overall daily health. Promote healthy joints, immune system, skin, and digestion by giving your pup a daily multivitamin once he’s at least one year old.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet and nutritional intake.