Choosing The Best Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs

Choosing The Best Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs

Just like their human companions, dogs can also experience the effects of aging on their joints and hips. Osteoarthritis, a chronic degenerative disorder that is likely to affect 60% of dogs over the age of seven, is one of the more significant concerns for any dog owner. Fortunately, there are joint supplements for dogs that can treat joint pain caused by degenerative disorders, as well as actively inhibit the development of these disorders.

What is the Benefit of Giving Joint Supplements to Your Dog?

Your dog requires a supply of vitamins and nutrients to ensure optimal health and growth. However, some of these nutrients cannot be created naturally in your dog's body, making joint supplements more necessary for healthy function. Proper supplementation can help safeguard your dog's joint health before problems arise or support a senior dog's joints.

In addition, while a properly balanced diet can provide your dog with many of the nutrients they need, those requirements can change as your dog gets older. Either their bodies will be less effective at synthesizing the necessary nutrients, or health issues will cause an increase in the necessity of certain nutrients. Even high-quality fortified dog food will require the support of supplements for these scenarios.

Certain breeds of dogs are more predisposed toward developing joint issues, depending on their size, environment, and genetic factors. Hip dysplasia is of particular concern to owners of large breeds, though it can occur in dogs and any size. These dogs require supplements to ensure that their joints remain healthy despite the complicating factors. Often, the earlier you can begin supplementation, the better.

How Soon Can You Begin Giving Joint Supplements to Your Dog? 

The best joint supplements for dogs provide the most benefit when you start giving them to your dog before symptoms of joint pain begin. For most small breeds, it's suggested that you wait until their bodies stop growing, which typically occurs around one year of age. However, some breeds should begin taking a supplement as soon as eight weeks old.

It's essential to give your dog supplements early because it's not always easy to tell when your dog is experiencing joint pain. It's common for dogs to hide or disguise any signs of discomfort or weakness until they have no other choice. This behavior has been ingrained in dogs from the days when a pack would leave behind the wounded, weak, or limping members to fend for themselves. While you obviously wouldn't do that to your pet, evolution exerts a more powerful influence on your dog's behavior than you do.

The following is a list of breeds that are more predisposed to developing severe hip and joint pain, so are therefore likely candidates for early supplementation:

  • Great Danes
  • German Shepherds
  • Bloodhounds
  • Shih Tzus
  • Pugs
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Rottweilers
  • Chow Chows
  • Mastiffs
  • English Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Dachshunds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Newfoundlands
  • Saint Bernards

Even if your dog's breed is not on this list, check with your vet to see if your dog qualifies for beginning joint supplementation earlier than one year of age. Supplements are not only good for treating joint pain, but they are an excellent form of preventative medicine, particularly for large dogs.


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What Are The Best Hip and Joint Supplements for Dogs?

Many options are available for joint supplements you could give to your dog. However, the best hip and joint supplements for dogs are the ones that support vital joint functions to protect cartilage from degenerative enzymes, fight inflammation to reduce pain, and ensure your dog's health and mobility.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride

Healthy cartilage is required for joints to move smoothly and without pain. Glucosamine hydrochloride is a naturally occurring compound used to stimulate the growth and repair of cartilage. It takes roughly two to six weeks to build up in your dog's system, but once it does, it acts as an anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain and improve weight-bearing in dogs with arthritis.

Glucosamine is one of the most commonly used joint supplements. It has also been proven to be safe for long-term use, unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which can have adverse effects on renal function. So it is possible to start giving your dog glucosamine early on as a preventative measure.

Supplemental glucosamine typically comes from bone meal and crustacean shells. Be sure to give your dog glucosamine hydrochloride, and not glucosamine sulfate, as glucosamine sulfate doesn't penetrate the cartilage to get where it needs to be to have a significant effect on your dog's joint health.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a popular, naturally occurring joint health supplement for dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often given together as part of a supplementation plan. Both compounds are complex sugars called glycosaminoglycans (GAG), which act as the main building blocks of cartilage. They protect cartilage by keeping it flexible and elastic. 

While glucosamine mainly helps build smooth cartilage, chondroitin inhibits the development of destructive enzymes within the cartilage and synovial fluid of the joint. Therefore, it's recommended for all dogs older than eight weeks, except for dogs who have developed end-stage arthritis. 

It can sometimes be difficult for a dog's gastrointestinal tract to absorb chondroitin. Therefore, choosing a product with a lower molecular weight, like Dasuquin, will help improve the absorption rate. In addition, animal cartilage is the most optimal source for supplemental chondroitin.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a type of sulfur derived from phytoplankton. Your dog naturally stores MSM in every cell of their body, with the highest concentration in their hair, nails, bones, ligaments, skin, and joints. In addition, MSM is required to naturally produce glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen, which are vital for building and maintaining cartilage.

MSM has the added benefit of natural pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body produce antioxidants. Unfortunately, senior dogs can experience sulfur deficiencies, resulting in several adverse effects such as dull fur, gastrointestinal distress, immune system problems, joint pain, and osteoarthritis. So, early MSM supplementation is vital for joint support.

Some of the most effective MSM joint supplements for dogs, such as Cosequin, also contain glucosamine and chondroitin as active ingredients. All three compounds work together to provide the most benefits for your dog's joints, whether healthy or arthritic.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Certain types of omega-3 fatty acids are excellent health supplements for dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote joint lubrication, keeping cartilage moving smoothly. In addition, there are benefits for your dog's heart, skin, and kidneys.

Most dog food brands and dog treats are formulated with omega-3 fatty acids because your dog's body cannot synthesize omega-3 on its own. However, the amount within them isn't enough to support a dog with arthritis or other joint issues. So, when a dog develops a joint problem, supplementation becomes the only way for them to see enough of a benefit from the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.  

Fish oil is one of the most common sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, green-lipped mussels, which are native to New Zealand, are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants for your dog. They contain large amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are responsible for anti-inflammatory effects that reduce pain in the soft tissues of your dog's body, including the joints.

Hyaluronic Acid

Synovial fluid is a highly viscous liquid produced within the joint capsule that allows joints to move smoothly. Without this fluid, joints would experience increased friction with movement, causing pain and inflammation. Hyaluronic acid is the main component of synovial fluid, but it is also vital in wound healing and strengthening of cartilage.

Older dogs experience a reduced concentration of hyaluronic acid in the body, making supplementation necessary. According to one study published in 2016 by the National Institute of Biotechnology, dogs suffering from hip dysplasia experienced a significant reduction in joint pain when given intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections.


Turmeric is a root related to the ginger family that is typically used to color and flavor food. Its main component is curcumin, which possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For years, turmeric has been touted as an effective medicine for painful inflammatory disorders in humans. However, a randomized, double-blind, prospective, placebo-controlled study published in 2017 found that dogs suffering from osteoarthritis experienced reduced indicators of pain after receiving a mixture containing a curcuminoid extract for three months.


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in hemp and cannabis. It's important to note that CBD does not contain the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties, as THC is toxic when given to dogs. Instead, CBD is derived chiefly from hemp and not the marijuana plant. CBD is typically given in oil form in small doses. 

Formal research on the effectiveness of CBD for dogs' joint health is currently scarce. So far, CBD has been shown to positively affect the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous system, which help regulate multiple bodily functions. One study published on the Frontiers in Veterinary Science website in 2018 showed that when 16 dogs suffering from osteoarthritis were given CBD oil over four weeks, 80% of the dogs experienced improved pain levels and quality of life with no noticeable side effects.

Currently, there are no recommendations for dosage from the US Food and Drug Administration on CBD for dogs. Please check with your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD, especially if your dog takes any other medications.

Our Solution for Early Supplementation

A proper diet with quality dog food is adequate for providing many of the nutrients and minerals your dog needs to ensure a good quality of life. However, you will need to supplement that diet in planning for the future. This is because there are essential compounds that your dog either cannot synthesize independently or will have difficulty producing as they age and experience degenerative disorders.

The VetSmart Formulas Early Stage Hip + Joint Complex hip and joint pain reliever for dogs contains all the active ingredients necessary to restore the building blocks of cartilage, protect and lubricate joints, bind and deactivate free radicals, and prevent collagen degeneration. In addition, this joint supplement supports your dog's natural healing process, allowing them to return to an active and healthy lifestyle.

Our Early Stage Hip + Joint Complex comes in soft chews that you can give to your dog with no hassle. Simply break up the chewable tablets and mix them in with your dog's food. This proprietary blend of veterinarian-strength ingredients is formulated to be safe for use over long periods, meaning you can give younger dogs a fighting chance at preventing osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint disorders.

These soft chews are made in the USA in FDA audited facilities. Each and every ingredient has been carefully inspected and tested to ensure the most effective supplement for your dog.

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Pet Wellness Direct does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We help pet owners to better understand their pets; however, all content on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment. If you suspect that your pet needs medical assistance, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.