Which joint supplement is best for Dogs?

This is a question I am asked a lot, and see asked on social media regularly too!

As a Dog Owner I’ve looked into joint supplements a lot for my own dogs over the years.

As an owner of three different Senior dogs (Cassie, Taylor and currently Merlin age 11 1/2) I’ve looked at recommendations for joint support as a lead up to the dogs being older and during senior years.

As a Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer I have researched, trialled and learnt a lot over the years!

My answer is that there isn’t one single joint supplement for dogs that I would suggest for every single dog.

Different supplements have different ingredients so may not be suitable for all dogs – there are supplements in ‘treat’ or tablet form that may have ingredients or coating that isn’t suitable for some dogs with sensitivities or IBD issues.

Different types of supplement will benefit different joint issues. It’s important to understand more about what you are looking to support and what different types of supplements help with.

Is the joint support to help prevent issues in the future or help issues that have now started? Are you Targeting a specific area that you know can be likely in your dog’s breed type or something that has already started showing in your dog. 

Norwich Terrier looking at a laptop

Let’s look at what various supplements help with!

🐶 GLM – Green Lipped Mussel – works in a similar way to NSAIDs, being anti-inflammatory and therefore GLM is used a lot for dogs diagnosed or with suspected Arthritis.

Green Lipped Muscle helps prevent a hormone like chemical being created within the body which causes inflammation, in the same way that NSAIDs work but without the side effects with long term use.

Be aware that as with most things there are different levels of GLM within different supplements and very different quality of GLM on the market. GLM does its best work for joints when the specific Green Lipped Mussel is sourced as this also naturally contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids and when kept intact during the processing to make into supplements it keeps the GLM perfect. When left over parts of GLM are used to create cheaper supplements they tend to not have the Fatty Acids intact and so aren’t going to have any effect! 

GLM also contains some Condroitin, also used as a supplement on its own, which helps strengthen joints by increasing the cushioning between the joints themselves!

🐶 Glucosamine –

Glucosamine is made up of Amino Acids and glucose and it’s what helps the body naturally produce cartilage between the joints which acts as a type of shock absorber. 

As dogs age they naturally produce less Glucosamine which causes their joints to stiffen and cause discomfort. This is a factor towards osteoarthritis in dogs when we see they are stiff.

Glucosamine can be found naturally in some foods, as well as in Green Lipped Mussel! Some foods that naturally provide dogs with Glucosamine include; 

Trachea, eg Beef or Lamb

Chicken Feet

Eggshell in the inner membrane 

Bone Broth

Plus there are lots of supplements that contain some Glucosamine, GLM and sometimes Chondroitin too!

🐶 Condroitin –

Chondroitin can help support your dog’s joint structure and the production of all important cartilledge, which is the cushioning between joints that prevents bone on bone contact. This helps to also keep the joint lubricated as well as helping the tissues that line the joints too.

It is often paired with Glucosamine within joint supplements for dogs although it also widely available as a supplement on it’s own. When Chondroitin and Glucosamine are combined they help reduce inflammation as well as helping the joint cartilage continue being produced.

🐶 MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) –

MSM can provide dogs with anti inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Improved joint function can be achieved through toxins being pushed away from the body’s cells and healthy vitamins and minerals can be absorbed – less disease makes for a healthier body including the joints!

MSM can also block nerve stimulation so acts as pain relieve, as well as being great for improved joint function.

Supplements Available I would recommend dog owners look into – in no specific order – a Short list!

✅ Ria Flex:
Used by many owners of sports dogs Ria Flex have higher levels of each ingredient and you can choose what you give your dog as everything is in powder form. I give Merlin their GLM powder as well as their Joint Plus powder which is Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, Hyaluronic Acid and antioxidants

✅ YuMove:
YuMove by Lintbells is probably the most well known type of joint support for dogs. Lintbells have been researching joint support for over 15 years and have a lot of science to back up their advertising! YuMove tablets contain high quality Green Lipped Mussel along with Omega 3 Fatty Acids which we have mentioned earlier means its great!

YuMove have a few levels so you can increase as your dog’s needs progress.

✅ Dorwest Herbs Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
Dorwest have produced their Glucosamine and Chondroitin tablets for many years and I actually started these for Merlin when he was 1 year old and I discovered he had bi-lateral locating patella (he is now 11 1/2!) and these were the main ingrediants advised at the time for this type of joint issue. At the time I asked my vet if I could use supplements and fitness exercise to help slow down the luxation issues, which he laughed at and said if I wanted but Merlin would need surgery on his knees within a few years..

That was 10 1/2 years ago and Merlin sees a canine therapist monthly now who gives him a full check over and has confirmed he doesn’t have higher than Grade 1 luxation still – no surgery needed still!

Dorwest have upgraded their Glucosamine and Chondroitin which is now called Jointwell® and now contains these high grade ingrediants:
Vitamin C (Helps build collagen)
Zinc (Cartilage support)
Hyaluronic Acid (Helps lubricate the joint for mobility)

Dorwest Herbs have several other tablets in their range that can help with joint support including;
Garlic and Fenugreek – Mobility and Joint Support alongside general Health and Immunity
MoveWellia® – Advanced joint care containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin again but also Boswellia as an anti-inflammatory, Celeary Seed to help blood flow to the joints and tissue repairing properties plus Vitamin C, Zinc and Hyaluronic Acid.
Turmeric Tablets – Turmeric became the go to new magic supplement a few years ago but now we understand that it does have some limitations!! Turmeric can help with being very anti-inflammatory.

✅ Cosequin:
Cosequin have been researching, developing and producing high quality joint care for dogs for over 20 years and have a range of joint care specific products for different ages as well as different strengths.

Ingredients include Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and and Hyaluronic Acid which combined help towards supporting the cartilage and tissue connective too.

✅ Nutraquin:
Nutraquin is produced by Nutravet and their joints and mobility supplement is full of high quality and naturally sourced ingredients.

Nutraquin contains Glucosamine, Boswellia, Omega 3 Oils, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid, DHA (Docosahexanoic Acid) and has very good reviews for all kinds of breed types and ages of dogs for fast benefits of a range of joint issues. These high quality ingrediants help with mobility and flexibility, joint health long term, controls inflammation and delivers relief to dogs with joint issues in just 1-2 weeks (compared to some supplements taking around 6 weeks).

Nutravet also produce other supplements including Nutramed, support for senior dogs which includes Boswellia, Pine Bark Extract and Milk Thistle Extract to help sooth inflammation, helps a healthy liver function, supports the digestive system and is a beneficial ‘tonic’ for older dogs. I am currently looking into this as an option for when Merlin may start to need extra all over help.

✅ Pooch and Mutt:
Pooch and Mutt are well known with dog families for their range of tasty treats but did you know they also produce supplements?

The Pooch and Mutt range of supplements covers various areas of our dogs’ wellbeing, and they have a few varieties for joint support too. Currently they have a discount code of GOODMOOD for 20% off on their website.

Mobile Bones Powder – aimed at dogs needing support for an active or working lifestyle, older dogs or dogs with injury but they also suggest using this early on to prevent early wear and tear on joints too. Containing Glucosamine, Yucca, Vitamins C & E, MSM, Phosphorus, Fish Oil, Selenium and Calcium there are plenty of joint supporting nutrients and even some Evening Primrose Oil! Plus Pooch and Mutt give a guarantee of results in 3 weeks or your money back! What’s not to like!?

Joint Care Supplement Tablets – Developed by vets these daily tablets help reduce joint pain, prevent joint issues from wear and tear or for breeds prone to joint issues and also helps to prevent joint disease. Ingredients include Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint health, Collagen to help repair joint cartilage, Selenium to maintain joint health and Vitamin C to help reduce joint pain.

Hemp Chewies – Anti inflammatory and lower stress from Hemp, Seratonin boosting and sleep enhancing L-tryptophan, DHA producing Omega 3 Fatty Acids for joints and skin / coat plus Fulvic Acids to help boost mental alertness and Collagen for healthy bones and joints.

✅ Joint Aid for Dogs – Saving the biggest ingredient list for last! Joint Aid for Dogs contains an impressive ingredient list with a wealth of benefits to our dog’s joints and bodies. Suitable for dogs of all ages and activity levels ingredients include Glucosamine, Calcium, Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, Hemp Seed and Black Oats which all help towards flexibility, movement, formation of cartilage, tendons, ligaments, synovial fluids and muscles, anti-inflammatory properties and has a unique nutrient delivery system to be incredibly fast in the absorption of nutrients.

Treats with added Joint support:

There are many treats and even dog foods available which offer joint support. Take a look at the listed ingredients carefully if you decide to go this route instead of supplements as often the levels of joint support contained are very low – eg 1% or lower. This means even giving a whole bag to your dog in one day it won’t be helping much at all.

Golden Retriever jumping through an Agility Tyre

Can we solve everything with Supplements alone?

An important main question that needs to be looked at when choosing a joint supplement – “What else is being done to support the joints ALONGSIDE the supplement??!!” Supplements along will not make a joint strong if other areas of the body are weak such as Muscles for support, ligaments for movement etc!!

A supplement can be beneficial but isn’t magic so unfortunately cannot provide strength if there is none in the body.

So alongside looking at supplements we should be looking at strengthening the body, although this isn’t as easy as adding to our dog’s meals but can be huge fun to do with our dogs!!

Helping our younger dogs to build a stronger body will help reduce wear and tear on joints, help reduce injuries from running, turning sharply, playing, doing sports etc.

Helping our adult or senior dogs by building muscle and strength back up to reduce discomfort and boost mobility.

If there was something you could do to help your dog stay mobile for longer, why wouldn’t you??

You are likely to heard about complimentary therapies for Dogs such as physiotherapy, chiropractic work, canine massage and more and these are all fantastic additions to our dog’s lives, and not just for when they have needed surgery following an injury or when they have had a joint issue develop. Working with a certified and qualified canine professional to help our dog’s with their comfort can benefit not just for now but also for their whole future!

Conditioning work is an area I’ve been passionate about for nearly 10 years and after I retrained as a Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer it’s been a huge privilege to be able to identify an issue early on before it becomes limiting for dogs. The benefit of working with dogs regularly in training is I get to see when there is even a slight change in gait, movement, position changes etc and can advise owners to take their dog to their vet for a check over, as well as advising on ways to present their vet with photos, videos and information that will help with pinpointing what they could be looking at to increase chances of seeing what is happening – it’s incredibly hard for our vets to identify pain or discomfort with dogs as in their 10 mins they have to see a dog and a small room to work in dogs are likely to be different to when they are at home or on walks and vets don’t get the chance to see what I get to observe during an hour’s class and working outside!

Canine Conditioning is looking at building a well conditioned body for our dogs which includes strengthening muscles all over, protecting tendons, helping ligaments do their job properly etc. It is absolutely possible to help our dogs achieve a well conditioned body that helps prevent injuries or the onset of joint issues. Conditioning doesn’t mean a dog will never experience joint issues, arthritis, injury etc but can help reduce the risk of these things happening as well as preparing the body so that it can heal and recover quicker if there is a health issue or injury that happens.

Giving our dogs joint supplements along with working on their fitness is a match made in heaven! The supplements can help repair parts of joints like cushioning, help the joints be stronger and reduce inflammation and when combined with fitness and conditioning we are working on strength inside AND around the joint together!

As fitness for dogs increases in popularity you will be able to find someone who can give suggestions on strengthening near you in person or online – do be careful with where you take information from as there is the usual advise around the internet and from well meaning people who have done something with their dog and believes it could help every dog no matter what the issue is, there are also different levels of training for the canine fitness sector ranging from a few hours online, a few days, a self study course right through to over a year of training inc case studies and continued CPD. Dogs should start with specific exercises that are known as Groundwork exercises and rarely use equipment initially – if you are seeking help for your dog because they have developed a limp or are looking stiff and you are advised to get your dog posing on a balance disc immediately then the person giving advice might not be in a position to give advice and could be at risk of causing additional problems too!

Never be afraid to ask for someone’s qualifications and what experience they have had with a specific issue, breed, or even age of dog and if it doesn’t quite feel right for your dog, then a true canine professional won’t take offence and may be able to recommend someone more suitable.

Ways that we can back up the supplements we give can include:

🐕 Warming up our dogs before activity and exercise so the body is prepared!
🐕 Cooling down for a moment after activity and exercise to help with the body repairing itself
🐕 Ensuring your dog isn’t using slippery surfaces such as laminate flooring, tiles, some carpets etc for getting up out of their bed after waking, for stretching, playing or doing training on as the sliding can damage tendons and the tension of trying to not slip can cause damage too
🐕 Consider if your dog does any activities that may cause problems when repeated daily, weekly etc. This might be jumping high to catch a ball and landing on their rear legs (not what the dog’s body is designed to do!), up and down lots of stairs especially downstairs straight after waking up or running on fields with lots of large holes or tractor tracks that your dog might trip on or find their paw has landed in while at a fast pace.
🐕 Remove the pressures of some activities by adding things like a ramp to get out of the car or a very thick dog bed by the sofa for your dog to land on and provide some shock absorbency
🐕 Look at ensuring your dog isn’t overweight – it’s not always easy but there are many ways of helping your dog loose or manage their weight and it really helps take pressure of the joints. If you’re not sure if your dog is a good weight ask your vet surgery or see if they have a ‘weight clinic’ to weigh dogs and give advice which is often free.

There are of course many other ways we can help but these should be quite user friendly and not too difficult to add into your daily lives.

Norwich Terrier stands with front paws on a blue disc

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