Supplements For Your Dog’s Joint Health

December 27, 2019
Sad Beagle

Whether your pup is young or old, maintaining healthy joints is important to allow them to maintain a long and happy life. After all, when their joints are healthy, they’re able to be active and engage in the physical activities that we both enjoy. However, as out dogs get older, just as with us, they may need something to help them stay healthy and active. As our furry friends get older, they may spend more time lying around and less being the fun-loving dog we once knew.

Many times, this reduction in activity is simply because as they age their joints are stiffer and more prone to soreness. If this sounds like your best friend, and you're exploring different supplements to help him get back to his old self, we found Nutramax Laboratories to be one of the best glucosamine supplement brands in a recent review.

If you'd like to learn more about how various joint supplements can help your pooch as they age, read on as we explore questions that so many people have about giving joint supplements to their dog.

Does My Dog Need a Joint Supplement?

Like many of us, you may be looking for ways to improve your dog’s overall health, beyond just picking up the latest gourmet chow from your local pet shop. If you’ve been pondering joint and hip supplements for fido, you’re not alone.

A long-running study by the Rockville, MD based research firm Package Facts has found that about one third of American households with dogs use some sort of pet supplements – especially those make to support joint health.

The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) has even called them safe and a natural way that could significantly improve the quality of your pet’s life.

If there’s a safe and natural way to improve the quality of life for your dog, seems like it would be a no brainer, right?

Joint symptoms such as dysplasia or arthritis can be more common in come breeds, especially with larger dogs. Because of this, the NASC recommends starting these types of supplements when they’re younger, rather than waiting until they’re older since much of the damage may have already been done.

If your pet isn’t at risk for this type of issue, you may want to consider talking with your vet before he gets older as there may be joint issues within your dog’s breed that has nothing to do with their size.

Do Joint Supplements Work for Dogs?

While it can be difficult for any pet owner to watch their dogs slow down with age, the signs that many of us associate with old age could actually be a sign that your dog is actually experiencing joint pain or stiffness. And because regular exercise is just as important for your pooch to maintain his muscles, bones, and joints, the becoming inactive due to joint issues can lead to even more pain and stiffness.

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in both your and your pet’s bodies. The highest concentrations are actually found in healthy cartilage. This glucosamine will cause his body to produce glycosaminoglycan, which his body uses to repair some of his tissues, such as cartilage. Unfortunately, as our pets age, their natural production of glucosamine will slow down. Because of this, the natural processes that allows his body to repair itself slows which can lead to joint pain and stiffness.

Over time, the natural wear on your pup’s joints, combined with the diminished ability for him to repair his own cartilage, can eventually lead to arthritis.

There is some good news with all of this. Research has found that glucosamine supplements for dogs can actually help them rebuild their cartilage, leading to better joint function and increased activity levels.

Benefits of Glucosamine for Dogs

  • Glucosamine can help alleviate some of your dog’s pains through an anti-inflammatory effect
  • Side effects from glucosamine usage are rare
  • Natural restoration of joint health, leading to increased mobility
  • May allow you to reduce, or eliminate, current NSAIDS for your dog. NSAIDS can have potential side effects and only serve to reduce pain, not repair cartilage in the joints.

Combinations of Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM

Glucosamine is the primary, and most beneficial, ingredient in joint supplements, there are several other supplements that have been found to increase the overall effectiveness when take together.

Chondroitin, like glucosamine, is a natural substance found in cartilage. When it’s combined with glucosamine, it’s been seen to have an increased benefit to your dog’s joint health.

Similarly, MSM is a Sulphur based compound that is also a natural substance found in your dog’s joints. MSM is thought to help improve not only the pain and inflammation associated with joint problems, but it also works to improve the joint’s flexibility.

When your dog begins taking a joint supplement, you should be aware that it can take several weeks before you begin to notice the effects. Some of the leading indicators that your dog is benefiting from the new joint supplement are he may become more playful, have an easier time getting up and down stairs, appear to be less stiff when getting up, or just appear to be overall happier.

Cute Puppy

What Age Should You Give Dogs Joint Supplements?

You’ve done your homework and you know that a joint supplement can help your dog, but now the big question – how old should they be before they need to start taking them?

The blunt answer is if your dog is over 1 year old, they should probably start now.

I already hear some of you asking, “Why so young?”

In a word… prevention.

If you start taking care of your dog’s joints when they’re young it means they’ll be able to maintain that playful exuberance for as long as possible. The best joint supplements for your dog will contain key ingredients like Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM. These are key to your pup’s joint care. They can help provide natural pain relief, improved flexibility, strengthening of cartilage and joints, along with reducing inflammation.

Remember earlier when we said breed matters when it comes to joint issues? Have a look through the list below as they are known to generally have more joint issues.

If you see your dog’s breed on the list below, you should think about starting them on a joint supplement around the time of their first birthday. You may think this seems a bit early, but this is around the time when their body will stop growing and it can be beneficial to begin taking preventative measures to ensure the health of your dog’s joints.

  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Bloodhounds
  • Basset Hounds
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Catahoula Hounds
  • Chow Chows
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
  • Dachshunds
  • French Bulldogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs
  • Norwegian Elkhounds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Otterhounds
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Pit Bulls
  • Pugs
  • Rottweilers
  • Saint Bernards
  • Shih Tzus

If you don’t see your dog’s breed on this list, being proactive is still very important. This will give them the best possible chance of leading happy and active life well into their old age.

Can I Give My Dog Human Joint Supplements?

If you’re someone who takes joint supplements to maintain healthy joints, you may have noticed the primary ingredient in your supplement is Glucosamine. If your pooch is also taking a joint supplement, you’ve probably noticed that Glucosamine is also the primary ingredient in their supplement as well.

So, what’s the difference, and why can’t you just give your dog your supplements?

While the primary ingredient is the same in both joint supplements, there will be some key differences between the rest of the ingredients. Not the least of which are composition, digestibility, and most importantly – dosage.

Ingredient Differences

While the main ingredient of both supplements is the same, and you could technically give the glucosamine from your supplement to your dog safely, it’s the other ingredients that can make a big difference.

For example, if you read through the ingredients of your supplement, you may find that it contains xylitol – a sweetener that’s safe for human consumption, but that can be deadly to dogs.

Likewise, there are some human joint supplements that contain chocolate, or a derivative, which we all know is a serious no-no for our pups due to theobromine.

Digestibility Differences

Most of the joint supplements that we humans take come in the form of a pill. However, doggie supplements are generally in either a chewable or liquid form. This is by design. Because your dog can have a much shorter digestive system than you do, his supplements need to be made so they can be broken down and absorbed more quickly.

Assuming the ingredients were safe, if you gave a human pill to your dog, there’s a good chance that it would pass through before the ingredients can be fully absorbed.

Dosage and Digestibility Differences

If you gave your joint supplements to your dog, unless you have a large breed dog, getting the dosage right can be difficult. Most quality supplements that are made for dogs will contain very clear dosage instructions that are based on your dog’s weight.

There are also some of the premium supplements that contain other minerals that can assist with joint pain relief, that you wouldn’t typically find in supplements from your local health food store.

A good example is GlycanAid from TopDog. It contains ascorbic acid, an essential item for maximizing glucosamine absorption, and increasing the effectiveness of the other ingredients.

What Can You Give a Dog for Joint Pain?

Joint pain is something that will affect most dogs as they get older. However, sometimes the signs of joint pain can be subtle and difficult to detect. It also doesn’t help that most dogs will tend to mask any discomfort they’re experiencing. Because of it, it’s all too often that serious issues aren’t detected by dog owners until they’re quite severe.

Your dog could be experiencing joint pain die to a number of reasons, including calcium deposits, scar tissue, or areas of the joints with torn cartilage.

Regardless of the underlying issue, there’s several choices for owners to make their pet’s life a bit easier.

Prescription Medications

Just as with humans, certain conditions may require a trip to the doggie dog to be examined by a professional. If your dog is whimpering, unwilling to move around much, or you feel they’re in serious pain – more than just aches and stiffness – you should consider taking them to be seen by your vet.

If the condition is severe enough to warrant medication to alleviate the pain and swelling, here are a few of the options your vet may recommend.

NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)

NSAIDs can provide very quick relief to dogs that are experiencing joint pain. However, the NSAIDs that are created for you and I carry a much greater incidence of potentially serious side effects when given to dogs.

Because of this, there are several NSAIDs that have been developed specifically for dogs to reduce these potentially serious side effects.

NSAIDs like Carprofen, Metacam, Etogesic, and Deramaxx were developed to be much safer for your dog that the over the counter NSAIDs you may have in your own cabinet like ibuprofen or aspirin.

Because these NSAIDs can still cause issues like an upset gastrointestinal tract, or in rare cases kidney or liver disfunction, they should always be supervised by a veterinarian.

Nutritional Supplements

By their very nature, nutritional supplements are designed to be taken orally as part of a dog’s normal diet.

The most common ingredients found in joint health supplements are Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).

Side effects from these supplements are very rare so long as they’re provided in the recommended dosages. However, it is possible that they could cause your dog to have an upset stomach if given at higher doses. Even this can subside as your pup’s digestive system adjusts to the dosage.

Unlike prescription medication that can provide near immediate relief for joint pain, supplements can take several weeks before seeing any benefit.

Does Glucosamine Really Work for Dogs?

Glucosamine supplements are designed to supplement the naturally occurring compound found in your dog’s joints. It’s one of several compounds that are used in the treatment of arthritis and other joint conditions not only in dogs, but also in humans, horses and others.

For dogs, glucosamine is most often use for:

  • Reduction of pain associated with joint wear, hip dysplasia, or other changes in the joint structure
  • Easing the recovery that stems from joint surgery
  • Maintaining peak condition for highly active performance dogs

Joint supplements help alleviate the symptoms associated with worn joints by providing a boost to cartilage repair, specifically to the spongy cartilage that creates the cushion between the joints.

Supplements like Glyde Mobility Chews are used by puppy parents not only as early intervention, but also through the progression of deteriorating joints since they’re safe for long term use in most dogs.

You’ll find that glucosamine is most often used in conjunction with chondroitin, which is provided to assist with the stimulation of cartilage repair.

Veterinary practices across Europe and the U.S have been using glucosamine supplements to provide benefits to their patients for about 20 years now.

Does Glucosamine Have Side Effects in Dogs?

While glucosamine is generally considered as safe, as with anything there may be some unexpected side effects. Some of these are reactions that humans would also experience provided they have the same underlying medical condition such as allergies or diabetes.

Some of the most common side effects are:

  • Allergies (this is more common with pups who have shellfish allergies)
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive urination and thirst (when given in high doses)
  • Affect on diabetes (this is due to some sugar based substances that can be present)

Can I Give My Dog Too Much Glucosamine?

Once you’ve started your dog on an appropriate daily dose of the joint supplement, there are basically two primary routes they could end up with too much of the active ingredients glucosamine or chondroitin in their bodies.


Because most joint supplements for dogs are designed to appeal to their tastes, they often come in yummy flavors like meat or cheese. Because of this, he may be able to track them down and eat an entire container.

Fortunately, because of glucosamine’s nature, it’s only in rare cases that a dog would eat enough of their treats to get enough to create a toxic overdose. The most common reactions would be temporary vomiting or diarrhea. However, if you dog were to eat your whole bag of treats, be sure to read the label. If it also contains ingredients like vitamin D or zinc, this can create a very serious situation and you should contact your vet immediately.

Additional Sources

Even if you’ve gotten the dosage right for your pooch’s joint supplement, he may be getting more that you thought. Some brands of dog food are fortified with glucosamine, especially varieties that are made for older dogs.

While it’s unlikely that the extra glucosamine from their food could be harmful, it’s important to provide the correct dosage so they get optimal benefits and don’t experience any side effects.

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