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Most canine pet parents have heard of (or seen) joint health supplements for dogs before. These specially-formulated products contain ingredients that help support healthy joints. They aim to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and slow the progression of cartilage deterioration.
Typically, pet parents associate dog joint health supplements with senior canines. However, older dogs with arthritis aren’t the only ones who can benefit.
Dogs can develop various joint issues, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, injuries, and more. Joint health supplements can help ease pain and improve mobility, allowing a dog to move more comfortably.
Osteoarthritis (or arthritis) is one of the most common issues most dogs face. As they age, the cartilage in their joints begins to naturally wear away, leading to a whole host of problems, including:
Difficulty getting up or laying down
Joint stiffness, especially right after waking up
More limited mobility
Arthritis can also lead to lethargy, appetite loss, and sudden irritability when touched or groomed near the affected joints. Dogs may also have trouble relieving themselves or start having accidents in the house.
Joint injuries, such as stress fractures, hyperextension, and cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears, can sometimes lead to issues later down the line, even after the dog fully recovers from the initial injury. For instance, a CCL tear can lead to a buildup of fluid in the knee, bony growths, or a thickening of the joint membrane.
While all dogs can develop joint issues, some are more at risk than others. For instance, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers have a higher risk of hip dysplasia. Large and giant breeds, including Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Rottweilers, have a greater chance of experiencing joint issues because of their size. In some cases, their issues can be more severe.
The great news about joint health supplements for dogs is that pet parents don’t have to wait until they notice signs of discomfort. Younger dogs with no symptoms of arthritis or other joint issues can still benefit, as supplements can help prevent problems from developing as they age. Early prevention can be especially beneficial for larger breeds.
Tip: Pet parents who want to use joint health supplements as a preventative measure should wait until their dog is at least 12 months old.
Pet parents have a wide range of dog joint health supplement options, many of which are available through Fuzzy. Some formulas provide daily support to maintain joint health, such as Dandy Joint Care Supplements and VetClassics Joint Support Plus. Others, including VetClassics ArthiEase Gold, provide support for dogs currently experiencing joint issues. Some supplements, such as Nutramax Dasuquin MSM, can help get joint pain under control and then provide daily maintenance.
Some supplements or dogs include ingredients that provide additional benefits beyond supporting joint health for dogs. For example, the omega-3s in Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Softgels also help maintain a dog’s brain, eye, skin, coat, and heart health, along with helping support healthy joints.
Finding the best joint health supplements for dogs can feel like an overwhelming task. The following tips can help pet parents find quality products:
Pet parents should look for specific ingredients on a joint health supplement label, including:
Glucosamine: Helps suppress joint inflammation, inhibit cartilage degradation, and repair already damaged cartilage.
Chondroitin: Helps reduce pain, improve joint mobility, and slow the progression of arthritis.
Green-lipped mussel (GLM): Contains omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and antioxidants that can ease inflammation and preserve joint function.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): Reduces inflammation and helps prevent cartilage degradation.
Hyaluronic acid: Supports joint mobility and function.
Pet parents should be wary of supplements that make any definitive health claims. Supplements aren’t cure-alls.
Large dogs have very different needs than small breeds do. Supplements should provide dosing recommendations for dogs based on their weight. Some manufacturers create products specifically for dogs in certain size categories, which can make the process easier.
Tip: No matter which joint health supplement a pet parent chooses, it should not act as a replacement for nutrients from a dog's food. A high-quality diet is crucial to a canine's overall health.
If pet parents aren’t sure which joint health supplement might be best for their dogs, they can always seek advice from Fuzzy’s veterinary support team. By becoming a Fuzzy member, they gain access to a Live Vet Chat, which they can use 24/7/365. They can get help with supplements, joint health in general, and all of their other dog (and cat) related questions.