Dog Health: Do Joint Supplements work?

If you are reading this blog then it has obviously triggered a curiosity in you, maybe because you have a dog with joint pain, a dog who is or has been injured, who has fully blown dog arthritis or just interested in the minefield that is the dog supplement industry.

I would like to be very upfront from the outset and say that I am not medically trained, but what I do have is over twenty years’ experience working in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, particularly with dogs and horses, and canine and feline nutritionally qualified.

I have a very practical view about animals and pets and genuinely love them all, but I also respect the boundaries between animal and human. My family and I own five dogs, a horse a cat, some fish and guinea pigs but at the end of the day they are animals and are treated as such, with respect, love, care and attention. We do not molly coddle them, treat them like they are human by feeding them pizza and sweets.

What we actually do is treat them and feed them the way they want to be treated and fed so we optimise dog health and dog nutrition. This includes feeding supplements if needed and a raw and natural dog diet. If you have read my other blog, ‘A Wolf in Dog’s Clothing. The Benefits of a Raw and Natural Diet?’ you will know how pro raw and natural I am when it comes to feeding your dog and how important canine nutrition is.

Does a dog need a supplement for their joints?

The honest answer to this question is, it depends! Some dogs really benefit from a good quality joint supplement like those dogs suffering from dog arthritis.

Can dogs take glucosamine?

Yes they can. The best joint supplements not only contain Glucosamine but Chondroitin and other essential ingredients too like Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and Hyaluronic Acid.

Chondroitin attracts fluid to your dog’s joints which lubricates the dry cartilage. It is a sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) composed of a chain of alternating sugars.

Glucosamine acts as the actual lubrication. It is an amino sugar and is produced by the hydrolysis of crustacean exoskeletons.

MSM is a naturally occurring organic sulphur compound found in primitive plants and also in small amounts of food and drinks, which has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

MSM is great for skin and you would notice improved skin condition in your dog with the administering of MSM. Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a glycosaminoglycan which is a polysaccharide, in simple terms a large sugar. It occurs naturally in connective body tissue and over half is found in the skin. HA is present in most of the leading brand face and body creams.

Glucosamine for dogs side effects

Some dogs, just like us humans can react adversely to certain ingredients and that is just a fact of life, so when and if you decide to feed a joint supplement to your dog then observations of behaviour, coat and skin conditions and stools need to be made for the welfare of your dog. For example, glucosamine for dogs can have some side effects, depending on the dog of course. They are usually quite mild gastrointestinal which include vomiting and abnormal stools, but this is not very common.

Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM Dosage for Dogs by Weight

The following dosage levels are only a guide.

500 mg of glucosamine and 400 mg of chondroitin per 25 pounds (11.4 kg) and

50 to 100 mg of MSM per 10 pounds (4.6 kg)

Dog joint supplements are taken in a variety of ways including in dog treats, liquids, powders and more commonly in a pet joint tablet.

Assuming everything is okay then the question posed is do joint supplements for dogs work?

And again, the answer is, it depends. It depends on the ingredients in the dog supplement and the levels of the ingredients which should be essential ingredients like MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid. Individually these four ingredients are excellent on their own as a dog supplement, but are more easily excreted from the body on their own. If you have these 'super four' essential ingredients in high enough quantities in a dog joint supplement then these are the building blocks for a great product! The ‘super four’ act as a binding agent when mixed together and the body finds it much harder to excrete them, which is a good thing because the dog benefits from the ‘super four’ ingredients longer and  the dog supplement does it's job more efficiently.       

Other beneficial properties should include Omega 3 fatty acids which can be found in marine oils and plant oils. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is found in plant oils like chia and flaxseed. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are found in marine oils like krill and fish.

Signs of Arthritis in Dogs - not an exhaustive list

1. A reluctance to get up or move at all

2. Lameness

3. Back legs are unsteady

4. Joints are painful and tender to the touch

5. Joints are swollen or deformed

Let’s be honest, you know when your dog is in discomfort. It is heart breaking and the great thing is we can do something about it if we want. A dog can't! We cannot cure dog arthritis, but we can help them to be more comfortable and enjoy their lives.

In my opinion, if you own a dog that works, is constantly on the go (and we know which dog breeds these are), your dog has a joint injury or your dog is showing signs of arthritis, then a dog joint supplement is a good idea. It is a preventative measure even if there are no adverse joint or stiffness signs, especially in working dogs who are constantly putting their joints under pressure.

Dogs over the age of 7 are deemed to be a senior dog now and at this age their joints are starting to degenerate (see my blog, ‘Feeding Our Senior Four Legged Companions Companions’ ). Dog arthritis is very common and feeding a top quality joint aid for dogs will help them feel more comfortable, more mobile and soothe aching joints.

It is a no brainer for me really. I want my loyal companions to have a great quality of life whilst they remain on this planet. We as humans have a choice whether to take a joint supplement ourselves. Dogs do not. And it will also be a lot cheaper than being treated by your vet. I am not saying that you shouldn’t consult a vet about dog arthritis, but you should not discount a dog joint supplement for preventative measures. It could have financial benefits to your pocket.

Good luck and please contact me if you have any questions about this blog then please contact me at

Devin McManus Winston and Porter ®

0191 379 0077

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