5 Joint Supplements For Your Dog's Achy Bones
We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
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.
- Best fish oil supplement: Nordic Naturals
- Best green lipped mussel oil for dogs: Antinol
- Best senior dog joint supplement: Standard Process Canine Musculoskeletal Support
- Best muscle builder for dogs: MYOS Canine Muscle Formula
- Best CBD chews for dogs: ElleVet
- Best CBD oil for dogs: Peak Therapeutics
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.
Nordic Naturals is known for their fish oil supplement for humans, and they also created one for dogs. They use a lot of the same high-quality ingredients for their dog formula. The product has high purity standards and is made from fresh, wild-caught sardines and anchovies. Nordic Naturals is also all about sustainability as a company. Their fish oils are Friend of the Sea certified and made in a zero-waste facility powered by biofuel, so you can feel good about buying these for your dog.
Antinol is a totally natural product that is safe for daily long-term use. Made from green lipped mussels found in Nelson, New Zealand, Antinol contains PCSO-524 (aka mussel oil) extracted by cold vs. heat, which helps preserve the organic compounds that are usually destroyed during heat processing.
Your dog’s joints are a part of his entire musculoskeletal system, which includes other vital components such as his muscles, nerves, blood vessels and organs. This supplement helps support the function of all of these, and not just your dog’s joints, to make sure your dog’s overall health is in check. Even if your older dog doesn’t have any recognizable arthritis symptoms, this supplement is an effective and safe preventative measure.
In addition to reducing inflammation and stimulating cartilage regeneration, helping to build up your dog’s muscle mass can help with your dog’s mobility. This muscle-building supplement can especially help with older dogs, since muscle tends to deteriorate as a result of aging.
ElleVet chews are CBD chews that are designed for dogs with joint issues. Not only do these treats deliver the appropriate dosage of CBD to your dog, but they also include glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s joint health. ElleVet has partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine to perform clinical studies to test the efficacy of the product, so you can trust the claims made by the company.
These joint chews also come in a peanut butter flavor that’s irresistible for dogs. We tested these treats ourselves, and we definitely saw an improvement in our dogs’ mobility issues — so we gave ElleVet treats our Paw of Approval.
Dr. Strubel is a fan of the CBD products from Peak Therapeutics because they’re super transparent about the contents of their products and they test every batch. “It was made and tested by a veterinary anesthesiologist, and I trust that it is effective,” Dr. Strubel said. “I recommend any good CBD product that contains the right concentrations and is ‘third party tested’ to show that they have the concentration in it that they say they do.”
The tinctures are different from CBD chews (like the ElleVet chews mentioned above) in that you administer the CBD oil via a dropper instead of a treat, which gives you more control over dosage. “Correct dose is 1–2 mg/kg/day for a dog,” Dr. Strubel said. So if your dog is 30 pounds, he can have up to 26 mg of CBD a day.
Prescription arthritis medication for dogs
In addition to supplements, your veterinarian might prescribe medication to manage your dog’s arthritis symptoms.
Adequan: A liquid form of cartilage, FDA-approved Adequan is an osteoarthritis drug that is given by injection (which can be done at home). “It’s THE BEST disease-modifying osteoarthritis medication available,” Dr. Strubel said. “It not only helps repair damaged cartilage, but also is amazing at relieving inflammation and pain in dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and many others.”
Gabapentin: A prescription drug used to manage chronic pain, especially pain from arthritis, Gabapentin decreases pain signals in the brain.
Amantadine: This drug stops chronic nerve pain signals by blocking NMDA receptors.
Your veterinarian might also recommend rehabilitation therapies in addition to medication and supplements to manage your pup’s symptoms. By sticking to a solid treatment plan with the help of your vet and giving a high-quality joint supplement for dogs regularly, you can prevent and treat the painful symptoms that come from arthritis.