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5 Joint Supplements For Your Dog's Achy Bones

It can be super upsetting to see your older dog move more slowly than usual, or choosing to rest on the couch over pretty much any other activity that he used to love.

When this happens, you shouldn’t ignore his symptoms or immediately blame them on old age. While dogs do slow down as they age, an older dog who isn’t as active as he used to be could be suffering from joint problems, which definitely require a trip to the vet since it’s possible your dog might have arthritis.

Arthritis isn’t a curable condition, but you can help manage the symptoms and prevent them from getting worse with a treatment plan from your vet — which might include daily joint supplements for your dog.

Joint supplements can benefit your arthritic dog in a ton of ways, including better mobility and less pain, and you can even give them to young dogs since they may help to prevent painful arthritis symptoms later on in life, especially if your pup has already been diagnosed with a joint injury or hip or elbow dysplasia.

But with a ton of dog joint supplements on the market, how can you find the best one for your pup?

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Ilana Strubel, a veterinarian who is a canine pain management and rehabilitation specialist and the owner of A Well Adjusted Pet in California, to find out how to find the best joint supplement for your dog.

Benefits of joint supplements for dogs

The benefits of joint supplements for dogs include the following:

  • Reducing joint inflammation
  • Slowing down cartilage degeneration
  • Supporting the musculoskeletal system
  • Managing or even relieving pain
  • Increasing mobility

Joint supplements for dogs can be used to prevent or lessen the chronic pain that results from ongoing degenerative joint disease and arthritis in dogs, and are often included in dog arthritis pain management treatment plans.

Arthritis is a chronic, degenerative and inflammatory disease of the joints that can lead to mobility issues and can be super painful for your pup. While you can’t cure your dog of arthritis, you can help manage his symptoms with a combination of treatment options.

If your dog is in pain from arthritis, your veterinarian might recommend several types of treatments at once, which can include prescription medication, physical rehabilitation and/or joint supplements.

“For chronic pain management, I usually integrate a combination of nutraceuticals [aka food or food additives with nutritional benefits], pharmaceuticals [aka medicines] and non-pharmaceutical pain-relieving modalities and treatments that are performed in physical therapy for animals [aka rehabilitation therapy, like acupuncture or an underwater treadmill],” Dr. Strubel told The Dodo. “These are all things that we can try to use to help their dog.”

It’s good to know what supplement options are available, but ultimately your veterinarian should help you come up with a multi-pronged treatment plan to help your dog deal with joint issues.

“We pick and choose what is appropriate — depending on their animal’s exam findings, special needs and health conditions.” Dr. Strubel said.

Joint supplement ingredients for dogs

There are several different key ingredients in joint supplements that can help with a dog’s joint issues, including the following:

Glucosamine hydrochloride: Glucosamine can help build joint cartilage and can be mildly anti-inflammatory.

Chondroitin sulfate: Chondroitin inhibits destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage, which prevents joint degeneration and contributes to the creation of new cartilage.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Both fish oil and krill oil are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are anti-inflammatories and have been shown to help improve mobility in dogs with arthritis.

Green lipped mussel oil: A very potent anti-inflammatory, mussel oil contains glucosamine, chondroitin and eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA), which is a unique omega-3 fatty acid that can relieve a dog’s arthritis symptoms. Green-lipped mussel extract (mussel oil) has shown to be one of the most effective of all oral glucosamine products for joint cartilage preservation,” Dr. Strubel said.

Turmeric: Curcumin, which is a compound that comes from turmeric, is used as an anti-inflammatory in veterinary medicine and can be used in the treatment of arthritis symptoms — though more clinical research is needed to fully understand how effective it is.

Boswellia: In one study on the effects of boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, dogs with arthritis saw a reduction in pain and stiffness in just six weeks.

Cannabidiol (CBD): While more research is needed, some vets believe that CBD has potential to help with a ton of health issues in dogs. For arthritis, it can possibly help reduce inflammation and painful sensations. In one study, the testing group saw a decrease of pain following CBD supplements. “CBD oil has become very popular in veterinary and human medicine because it can be helpful in the treatment of various conditions without the typical intoxicating effects of marijuana use,” Dr. Strubel said.

How to find the best joint supplements for dogs

When searching for the best joint supplement for your dog, make sure the product you choose checks off the following:

  • Recommended by your veterinarian at an appropriate and effective dosage
  • Approved by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC)
  • Ingredients verified by independent organization
  • Third-party clinical studies done on product
  • Doesn’t have false or exaggerated claims
  • Species appropriate (aka designed for dogs)

Best joint supplements for dogs

To help you find the best joint supplements for dogs, The Dodo rounded up our picks and veterinarian recommendations from Dr. Strubel.