While pet parents might not be able to avoid arthritis in every case, you can take steps to maintain your dog's joint health. One of the best ways to do this is by giving your pet a joint supplement.
You may have questions about joint supplements. How do you know if your dog needs one? What should you look for when you're browsing the shelves at your local pet store? What ingredients make for the best joint supplements?
Just about every movement your dog makes involves a joint, whether they’re bolting after a squirrel or jumping up on the sofa for a nap. Joints are the areas where bones meet; connective tissue and cartilage surround every joint and essentially act as a shock absorber system when your dog moves.
Like any part of your dog's body, cartilage can wear over time, providing less cushion in the joints. That's when inflammation and joint pain starts to occur. Medically, this is known as arthritis.
Read on as we answer your questions about joint supplements for dogs.
Does My Dog Need a Joint Supplement?
Your dog's body, just like yours, cannot produce vitamins and minerals naturally. They must get them from the diet. Since vitamins and minerals are crucial for joint health as well as almost every other bodily function, commercial dog food is formulated with the right vitamins and minerals for your pet. So, eating a well-balanced diet is theoretically enough to keep your dog's joints healthy.
With that being said, several factors can affect a dog's joint health negatively. We've already learned about one: Time. As your dog ages, cartilage in the joints wears down and makes joint pain more likely.
Your dog might also benefit from a joint supplement if they don’t get the proper nutrition in their diet, or if they're older and suffering from osteoarthritis. Not every senior dog needs a joint supplement, but it can help many older dogs enjoy a better quality of life.
Even if your dog doesn't have a particular health issue that makes joint pain more likely, a joint supplement may be a good idea. That's because once cartilage is gone, it's not something that can come back. It's a far better idea to support the cartilage ahead of time and prevent joint pain before it starts.
Here's the bottom line: Talk to your veterinarian about putting your dog on a joint supplement (as you should for any kind of additional health supplement). They can help you decide if it's the right choice for your pet.
What to Look for in Dog Joint Supplements
Once you have the go-ahead from your veterinarian, it's time to choose a joint supplement for your dog. Whether you're shopping on Amazon or visiting the pet store, there are a few things to look for. Try to choose USA-made supplements from reputable brands, and stay away from any product that makes claims that seem too good to be true. Remember that supplements are not medications or cure-alls.
You'll also want to know what to look for in the product's ingredients list. Most of the major joint supplements for dogs — Nutramax's Dasuquin and Cosequin, Naturvet, or Vetriscience, for example — contain one or more of the following key ingredients:
Glucosamine is a natural compound and one of the building blocks in your dog's joint cartilage. It helps with joint lubrication and cushioning. Just like cartilage itself, it tends to wear away. That's why giving your dog a joint supplement that contains glucosamine can be very helpful.
Chondroitin sulfate, another common ingredient in joint supplements for dogs, protects your dog's existing joint cartilage. It stops enzymes that wear away cartilage, preserving the cartilage in your dog's joints for better joint health over time.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have natural anti-inflammatory properties and help to promote proper joint lubrication as well. Plus, they're good for your pet's immune system, heart, kidneys, and skin.
Fish oil and krill oil are two fantastic sources of omega-3 fatty acids — that's why Native Pet's Omega Oil contains both pollock and salmon oil for a well-rounded boost of omega-3 fatty acids.
Methylsulfonylmethane, otherwise known as MSM, is another common ingredient you'll find in joint supplements for dogs. It's an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, so it's great for your pet's joint health.
Hyaluronic acid is another naturally occurring substance that may be in a joint supplement for dogs. It promotes joint lubrication, decreases inflammation, and strengthens the connective tissue in Fido's joints.
The green-lipped mussel is native to New Zealand, and an extract derived from it contains beneficial nutrients for joints including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
That's right — turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Of course, you shouldn't give your dog the turmeric you have in your spice cabinet. If it's on the ingredients list of a joint supplement for dogs, though, don't be surprised. It's been proven to help arthritic dogs feel more comfortable.
Want a convenient, delicious treat for your dog that can help with inflammation? Native Pet’s brand-new Relief Chews are designed to support dogs with mobility issues and to help adult dogs stave off joint pain or other inflammatory issues before they take hold. These chews offer green-lipped mussel and turmeric to help regulate the inflammatory response around your dog’s body.
Giving Your Dog a Joint Supplement
Once you've selected the best dog joint supplement for your pet with the help of your veterinarian, giving it to Fido is pretty simple. Most joint supplements for dogs are made as chewable tablets, and they're flavored to make them appealing to our canine friends. It's just like giving your pet a dog treat.
Check with your veterinarian about the dosing of your dog's joint supplement. A small-breed dog doesn't need as much of the ingredients listed above as a large dog would to get the same benefits. The instructions on the joint supplement's packaging should advise you on dosing, but it's always a good idea to play it safe and check with your veterinarian.
Never give your dog a joint supplement or any other kind of health supplement made for humans. Make sure the supplement is made specifically for dogs.
Joint Supplements for Dogs
Are you thinking of adding a joint supplement to your dog's health regimen? It's a good way to maintain proper joint function and help your dog stay comfortable before too much of their joint cartilage wears away. Supplements can help older dogs with arthritis to be more comfortable, or you can give them to middle-aged or younger dogs to help maintain joint health throughout life.
A good joint supplement might contain ingredients like chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, green-lipped mussel, and turmeric. Ask for your vet's help to choose the best joint supplement for your dog — it's always smart to have a professional's opinion.
Want to learn more about your dog's health and wellness? Read more articles on the Native Pet blog.