Joint Supplements For Dogs: Which Ones Work?

joint supplements for dogs

Joint supplements can help with your dog’s joints but only if they contain the proper ingredients at the correct strength.  There is so much information available about joint supplements for dogs.  It is important to educate yourself on ingredients that help your dog with joint health and mobility.

All joint supplements for dogs are considered nutraceuticals.  A nutraceutical is defined as a non-drug substance made to improve the health and the well-being of your pet.  Because they are not medication, these supplements are considered food and not regulated by the FDA.  Be cautious because most nutritional supplements are not regulated for efficacy, quality, or safety in the same way that drugs are regulated.  Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation for joint supplements for dogs.

Joint supplements for dogs proven to work:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: This product helps stimulate the growth of cartilage cells.  Don’t confuse this product with glucosamine sulfate because there is no evidence this product gets to the joint after ingestion.  Dogs must be given a double dose for 4-6 weeks to reach therapeutic levels.
  • Chondroitin sulfate: This product works by inhibiting cartilage destroying enzymes.  When given with glucosamine, chondroitin has been shown to lessen inflammation before a joint injury occurs.  Dogs must be given a double dose for 4-6 weeks to reach therapeutic levels.
  • Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU): This product protects cartilage against damage, and it stimulates the healing in the joint.  When ASU is combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, it helps the actions of each drug and also reduces the amount of chondroitin required.  It may take 4-6 weeks before effects can be seen.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA from wild-caught coldwater fish are best for joint health.  In fact, farm-raised fish have low levels of omega-3s and high levels of omega 6s.  Flaxseed does not provide enough fatty acids in dogs to help with joint health.  Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help with heart health, joint health, improves kidneys and boost the immune system, but the dosage for each condition varies.  Five times the dose is needed for joint health than is needed for kidneys.
  • Green-lipped mussels: The mechanism of action is unknown at this time, but studies have shown improvement of joint health.  There are some concerns about the efficacy of farm raised mussels vs. wild-caught.
  • Boswellia serrata: This tree extract has pain relieving effects, and studies have shown to significantly reduce the signs of arthritis in dogs after six weeks of treatment.

Even though these joint supplements are not drugs, they still require a proper dosage based on your dog’s weight.  Ask your veterinarian or look on the back of the bag for a dosage chart.  Dr. Coffin recommends Dasaquin which contains 3 of the above-mentioned jointsupplements.

Pet food companies are now including some of these ingredients in their food and treats.  However, the dose of these ingredients is usually not high enough to be effective by itself and would require supplementation.  Dr. Coffin recommends saving your money and purchasing a joint supplement for dogs instead.  The only exception is the prescription diet from Science diet called j/d.  Giving treats or any other type of food with j/d may cause it not to be as effective.

Most over the counter fish oils contain 350 to 1000 mg of EPA/DHA.  A 100-pound dog requires 5000mg/ day.  There are joint supplements for dogs that contain higher quantities of EPA/DHA which means fewer pills and more cost-effective than over the counter human products.

Joint supplements for dogs work best if given before joint problems develop.   Dr. Anna Coffin recommends starting large breed dogs predisposed to developing arthritis as soon as possible.  Dogs as young as eight weeks can take joint supplements.  Talk to your veterinarian about which joint supplement they recommend today.

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