Many dogs suffer from joint problems, but large breeds are particularly susceptible to issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and osteoarthritis. These ailments typically cause joint pain, impair your dog’s mobility and generally reduce his quality of life.
Fortunately, there are a few different treatments that can help address these issues, but joint supplements for dogs are some of the most popular options among owners.
There are several different joint supplements available, but Dasuquin and Cosequin are the two leading options for improving joint health in dogs.
Both are excellent products, but if you want your pet to enjoy the greatest benefits, and you want to get the best value for your dollar, you’ll need to decide which of these two supplements is best for your dog.
We’ll try to help you do exactly that below, by examining the Dasuquin vs Cosequin debate and explaining the primary differences between the two joint health supplements.
What is Dasuquin for Dogs?
Dasuquin is a joint supplement designed for dogs suffering from joint problems.
Made by Nutramax Laboratories and hailed as a “new breed of joint health supplement,” Dasuquin appears to be the only such supplement to contain its unique combination of active ingredients.
As a nutritional supplement, Dasuquin is available without a veterinarian’s prescription, and it is largely considered safe for most dogs.
How does Dasuquin work?
In many cases, Dasuquin not only helps to prevent further damage to the cartilage in your dog’s joints, but it helps to rebuild some of the cartilage that has already been lost.
This will help reduce the joint pain and inflammation associated with the condition and improve your dog’s mobility, so he can run, jump and play like he formerly could.
Dasuquin is typically administered on a daily basis. It can take several weeks for Dasuquin to produce results, although some owners report improvements after only a few days of use.
We’ll detail the full list of ingredients below, but the four primary ingredients in the supplement are:
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is used in the production of several biological materials, most notably including cartilage. It is thought that supplementation with glucosamine provides the body with the natural resources necessary to repair and rebuild cartilage.
Glucosamine hydrochloride is one of several different forms of glucosamine used in joint supplements for pets and people (glucosamine sulfate is the most common alternative). Most glucosamine used in joint pain supplements is harvested from the shells of crustaceans.
MSM is an organosulfur compound that is used in a few different biological processes. It is thought that some dogs fail to obtain enough sulfur in their diets, which can cause inflammation and other problems.
Essentially, MSM is thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help reduce some of the pain associated with arthritis and other joint problems.
Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin sulfate (The “sodium” at the beginning of the term simply refers to the fact that the compound is prepared as a salt) is a significant component of cartilage, and it likely provides most of the compressive strength of the material.
In other words, when your dog steps and places his body weight on one of his legs, it is the chondroitin sulfate in the cartilage that provides most of the shock-absorbing effect. Supplemental chondroitin is thought to help support joint health in several ways.
For example, it not only has an anti-inflammatory effect, but it also helps to prevent the breakdown of existing cartilage and encourage the formation of new cartilage.
Most commercially manufactured chondroitin is harvested from the cartilage of cows, pigs, and marine animals.
Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
Avocado and soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs) are byproducts of the soap-manufacturing process. It is typically comprised of one-third avocado oil and two-thirds soybean oil.
ASU hasn’t been used for as long as glucosamine, MSM or chondroitin, but it seems to be a very promising tool in the fight against joint pain and other problems.
Because it is one of the primary distinguishing factors in the Dasuquin vs Cosequin debate, we’ll discuss ASU further below.
Dasuquin Full Ingredient List
Glucosamine hydrochloride, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), sodium chondroitin sulfate, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), dextrose, dried brewer’s yeast, gum resin, lecithin, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, mixed tocopherols, natural & artificial flavors, silicon dioxide, soy protein isolate, and tea.
What is ASU and How Does It Work?
ASU is thought to help support joint health in a number of key ways.
First, ASU helps to prevent the body from reacting to inflammation-encouraging chemicals in the bloodstream. This will help keep inflammation to a minimum, which will not only help prevent further joint damage but reduce the amount of joint pain your pet experiences.
Additionally, ASU appears to prevent the breakdown of synovial cells. These are some of the cells that line your dog’s joints and help to protect against bone-on-bone contact.
Finally, ASU also appears to help promote the regeneration of connective tissues (including cartilage).
What is Cosequin for Dogs?
Like Dasuquin, Cosequin is a joint-health supplement manufactured by Nutramax Laboratories.
Cosequin was first developed in 1992 and dog owners have been using it to help treat osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia and other joint problems in dogs ever since.
Cosequin is available without a prescription and is typically administered on a daily or every-other-day basis. It is generally considered safe for dogs and side effects from its use are rare.
How Does Cosequin Work?
Cosequin works in the same basic way that Dasuquin does – it helps to prevent joint damage and encourage the formation of new cartilage.
As with Dasuquin, Cosequin contains glucosamine, which primarily helps to prevent further damage, and chondroitin, which is chiefly included to encourage the formation of new cartilage.
Cosequin also contains manganese ascorbate, which is thought to work like a catalyst and help speed up the repair of the damaged cartilage.
Cosequin has been used for over 16 years and is largely thought to be safe for dogs. It rarely causes any side effects, and most dogs tolerate it well.
Cosequin Full Ingredient List
Glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), manganese, dextrose, dried brewer’s yeast, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, natural & artificial flavors, and silicon dioxide.
What’s the Difference Between Cosequin and Dasuquin?
Both Dasuquin and Cosequin contain the same three primary ingredients (glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM). These have all been studied quite a bit in both human and veterinary medicine, and there is a significant amount of research indicating that these ingredients are often effective in treating joint problems.
They do, however, possess differing amounts of these ingredients.
For example, each tablet of Cosequin contains 600 milligrams of glucosamine, while Dasuquin tablets each contain 900 milligrams of glucosamine.
Cosequin contains 300 milligrams of chondroitin, while Dasuquin contains 350 milligrams of chondroitin per tablet.
The biggest difference between these ingredients occurs in the MSM content – Cosequin provides only 250 milligrams of MSM per tablet, while Dasuquin contains 800 milligrams of MSM per tablet.
However, there are also a few other differences worth examining:
- Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) are included with Dasuquin, but not Cosequin. This is the most significant difference between the two supplements. ASUs are thought to protect your dog’s joints and help improve mobility.
- Manganese – which may provide additional joint-protecting benefits – is included with Cosequin, but it is not included in Dasuquin.
- Tea is included with Dasuquin. Tea is often claimed to provide general health benefits, although it is rarely used to specifically address joint problems.
- Both supplements contain roughly similar collections of inactive ingredients, including things like dextrose, dried brewer’s yeast, natural & artificial flavors, and silicon dioxide.
- Soy protein isolate is included in Dasuquin, but not Cosequin.
Consult the chart below to see the differences between the two supplements on a per-tablet basis:
*Dasaquin Large Breed Formula
Why Are Dasuquin and Cosequin Better than Other Joint Health Supplements?
Although there are a number of high-quality joint supplements on the market, Dasuquin and Cosequin are widely considered to be among the best.
A few of the reasons that they are generally regarded as superior include:
Both Products Are Manufactured by Nutramax Laboratories
Because there are few barriers to entry, the pet supplement market is lousy with fly-by-night manufacturers, who pop into and out of existence all of the time. Many such manufacturers employ cost-cutting measures that reduce the efficacy of their products and fail to conduct enough testing on the products too.
By contrast, both Nutramax Laboratories have been operating for more than 16 years, and they’re manufacturing facilities are based in South Carolina and Maryland. They manufacture their supplements in accordance with all local, state and federal laws, as well as the industry’s best practices.
This is not to say that there aren’t any other high-quality supplement manufacturers competing in the market, but Nutramax is clearly among the best.
Dasuquin and Cosequin Both Contain Multiple Joint-Supplementing Compounds
While chondroitin, glucosamine and many other commonly used joint-supporting compounds can help your dog feel better, these compounds are most helpful when used in conjunction with each other.
In fact, Nutramax Laboratories uses unique combinations of ingredients in both of their products. These unique combinations have been shown to produce better results than most other commercially produced combination supplements.
Supplements Found in Dog Food May Not Be Biologically Available
Some commercially produced dog foods contain chondroitin or glucosamine. And while such foods may indeed protect your dog’s joints from premature degradation, this hasn’t been conclusively established via peer-reviewed research.
To date, most of the research surrounding joint-supporting compounds in dogs has been conducted on supplements, rather than fortified dog foods.
So, while it may not be a bad idea to select a dog food that is fortified with joint-supporting compounds, you’ll likely want to choose a standalone supplement if your dog is already showing signs of joint problems.
It is also wise for owners of dogs at high risk of developing joint problems (which includes most large breeds), who want to prevent such issues from developing in the first place, to use supplements rather than dog foods.
Supplemented Dog Foods Introduce a Number of Unnecessary Variables
Your dog’s food will play an important role in his joint health, as it’ll affect his weight, energy level, immune function and a host of other factors.
This may reduce the overall efficacy of the included supplements, even if they do manage to prevent further cartilage loss. What do you do if the joint supplements in the food are helpful, but the food causes your dog to gain weight?
Additionally, while it is rare, some dogs experience intestinal upset and other minor symptoms after taking supplements containing chondroitin or glucosamine.
On the other hand, many dogs experience intestinal upset after switching dog foods. How would you determine which one – the food or the supplements – were causing the problem?
Ultimately, a simple approach is often the best approach, and in this case, standalone supplements – such as Dasuquin and Cosequin – are generally preferred to supplemented foods.
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Dasuquin vs Cosequin?
Many owners have difficulty choosing between Dasuquin and Cosequin for dealing with their dog’s joint pain.
There are a number of factors that you should consider when making the choice, but most owners —particularly large dog owners — should select Dasuquin, as it is the superior product.
The two primary reasons you should opt for Dasuquin include:
- Dasuquin contains ASU, while Cosequin does not. ASU is one of the most promising joint-supporting compounds used in supplements, and it is worth paying a little extra to obtain a supplement fortified with it. Dasuquin is one of the only supplements on the market to contain ASU.
- Dasuquin provides more glucosamine and chondroitin than Cosequin does. These compounds are largely considered quite safe, so generally speaking, the more glucosamine or chondroitin contained in a product, the better. It also means that you are spending more of your money on the active ingredients included in the supplements, rather than the inert ingredients used to make them into a tablet.
And, as mentioned above, large dogs will typically enjoy much greater benefits from Dasuquin. Most large breeds are susceptible to dysplasias and arthritis, and thanks to their large size, they’ll likely suffer from greater joint damage.
This joint damage may also begin occurring at a younger age than it will in small or medium-sized dogs, so it makes sense to embrace a more aggressive supplement, which will give your dog the greatest chance of full recovery.
Dog / Owner Description
Best Supplement Choice
Large dogs (over 60 pounds)
Small dogs (under 60 pounds)
Dogs with very mild joint problems
Dogs with advanced or serious joint problems
Dogs who are allergic to soy
When Should I Choose Dasuquin vs Cosequin?
Given that both Dasuquin and Cosequin are high-quality joint supplements, which have helped thousands of owners to improve their pets’ lives, the question becomes: Which one is right for you and your dog?
The answer depends on your reasons for using it. Below, we’ll recommend the best supplement for dogs experiencing different problems.
Because osteoarthritis is rarely diagnosed before it begins impacting a dog’s quality of life, aggressive treatment is warranted. Accordingly, Dasuquin is the best choice for most dogs with osteoarthritis.
Hip or Elbow Dysplasia
While osteoarthritis can be quite debilitating, elbow and hip dysplasia are often even more painful and life-altering, as they also involve improper joint structure (osteoarthritis often accompanies hip and elbow dysplasia, making these conditions double-threats).
Given the greater severity of the conditions, hip and elbow dysplasia are best treated with Dasuquin.
Obesity puts dogs at a very high risk of developing joint pain and other joint problems, so it is important to begin protecting your dog’s joints as soon as is possible.
Dasuquin is probably the best choice for extremely overweight dogs and those with any other risk factors, but Cosequin may be sufficient if your dog is only slightly overweight.
Preventative Use for High-Risk (Large) Breeds
If you have a large-breed dog, it is probably wise to keep his joint health in mind from the moment you first bring him home. As stated earlier, it is better to prevent joint problems than it is to treat them, so early supplementation is wise.
Cosequin is probably sufficient for preventative use, but Dasuquin would certainly be even better.
As dogs age, their bodies will begin to break down – and this includes the cartilage in their joints. So, it is often wise to begin supplementing your dog as he enters his senior years (usually around age 7) to prevent arthritis from occurring.
Cosequin is likely sufficient for such preemptive use, but there’s no reason to avoid Dasuquin if you’d prefer.
Dasuquin vs Cosequin: Price
Dasuquin is a bit more expensive than Cosequin. Prices can change for a variety of reasons, and they vary from one retailer to the next, but, as of this writing, Dasuquin usually costs about $0.40 per tablet, while Cosequin only costs about $0.25 per tablet.
This difference in price is primarily due to the fact that Dasuquin contains more of all three primary ingredients. It also contains avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), while Cosequin does not.
The inclusion of tea and soy protein isolate are also likely contributing factors to the price difference.
This difference in price may not matter very much to owners of small dogs, but the difference may be much more significant for owners of large dogs.
The recommended dosage of Cosequin, for example, is ½ a tablet every day or every other day for dogs weighing less than 15 pounds. By contrast, dogs over 60 pounds require 1 to 3 tablets each day.
Dasuquin is available in two different versions – one for small dogs and one for large dogs. The large dog version recommends administering 1 to 2 tablets or chews to your dog each day.
Cosequin vs Dasuquin: How Are They Administered?
Both Cosequin and Dasuquin are available in two different forms: a chewable tablet and a soft-chew.
Different dogs respond in different ways to both types, so you’ll just need to decide which version you think your dog is more likely to take willingly. That said, the soft chews (both products) seem to be more popular with dogs.
If you decide to go with the chewable tablets, be prepared to hide the tablets inside a piece of cheese or a pill pocket. This will usually convince most dogs to take the supplement.
There aren’t many reports of negative side effects from either Cosequin or Dasuquin.
All three of the primary ingredients in both joint pain supplements are largely considered safe, as are the ASUs only contained in Dasuquin. A small number of dogs do exhibit sensitives to avocado, but the amount contained in these supplements is unlikely to cause problems.
Nevertheless, a small percentage of dogs did experience gas and diarrhea after beginning to take both of these supplements. These types of reactions are likely due to the inactive ingredients in the supplements, rather than the chondroitin, MSM, glucosamine or avocado/soybean unsaponifiables.
Still, it is probably wise to start slow when you begin giving either of these supplements, to allow your dog’s body the chance to adjust. If your dog experiences diarrhea that lasts longer than a day or two, stop administering the supplement and contact your vet for advice.
What Types of Health Problems Do Dasuquin and Cosequin Treat?
Dasuquin, Cosequin and other joint supplements are generally used to treat a few common health problems. These include:
Hip dysplasia is a very common health problem that afflicts dogs (particularly large breed dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and others). Caused by an improperly formed hip joint, this condition causes the cartilage in your dog’s hip joint to wear down.
Once the cartilage begins breaking down, the bones of the joint begin rubbing against each other. This can cause a tremendous amount of pain and prevent your dog from walking properly. This can even lead to depression and an overall reduction in your dog’s quality of life.
Often, hip dysplasia will require veterinary attention to completely address the problem, but chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM are usually helpful in protecting the cartilage that remains. It is possible that they will even help your dog’s body build more cartilage.
Elbow dysplasia is essentially the same thing as hip dysplasia, only it occurs in the elbow. As with hip dysplasia, the improperly formed elbow joint causes the cartilage in the elbow to wear down, leading to bone-on-bone contact. This leads to the same kind of pain and immobility associated with hip dysplasia.
Chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM are all helpful in treating elbow dysplasia, just like they are for treating hip dysplasia. Additionally, your vet may be able to recommend other helpful treatments.
Osteoarthritis also causes the cartilage in your dog’s joints to break down, which allows the bones to grind against each other. But unlike hip or elbow dysplasia, the damage to your dog’s cartilage is not caused by improperly formed joints. Instead, it is usually caused by excessive wear-and-tear on the joint.
A variety of things can cause this kind of cartilage damage, but the most common cause is repetitive stress to the joint. This can occur because your dog is overweight, which will force your dog’s body to support more weight than it is capable of handling, or it can occur because your dog engages in repetitive activities.
This kind of damage through repetition can occur in dogs who are forced to jump up or down from high places repeatedly (such as a bed or car), or they can occur in response to the rigors of working life. For example, dogs who routinely walk miles every day while performing their duties may develop osteoarthritis.
As with hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis can be treated via a number of veterinary techniques, but chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM supplementation are often very helpful. It is also wise to eliminate any high-impact tasks your dog is required to do on a daily basis and to keep your dog’s body weight at the proper range.
Traumatic injuries may damage the cartilage in your dog’s joints. And while most such injuries will require veterinary assistance potentially entailing surgery, physical therapy and pain-relieving medications, Dasuquin, Cosequin or some other joint-protecting supplement may provide additional value.
Anytime your dog is forced to endure surgical procedures to a joint, he will likely benefit from supplements containing chondroitin, glucosamine or MSM. These types of supplements may help protect whatever cartilage is left in your dog’s joints, and they may even help your dog regenerate that which has been lost.
Symptoms of Joint Problems in Dogs
It is always ideal to treat joint problems early before they progress. This means you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the symptoms that can indicate dysplasia, arthritis or other problems, so you can start treatment as soon as a problem is detected.
Some of the most notable signs and symptoms of joint pain and other related problems in dogs include:
- “Bunny hopping” (moving both rear legs in unison, rather than in alternating fashion)
- Reduced walking speed
- Appearing to fatigue faster than normal
- Reduced energy levels
- Failing to enjoy favorite activities
- Taking a long time to lay down or stand up
- Reluctance to climb or descend stairs
- Vocalizations consistent with pain
Don’t Forget to Implement Complimentary Treatments
Even if your dog responds very well to one of these supplements, you should still consider employing additional treatment strategies. This will likely provide even better results than using the supplement alone and give your dog the best chance at a high quality of life.
Among other things, this means:
Make Sure Your Dog’s Body Weight Is Within the Proper Range
You may need to find a good weight-management food to do so, and you may also want to start increasing the amount of exercise your dog gets. Just be sure to avoid high-impact activities (which may exacerbate his joint problems), in favor of low-impact activities, such as swimming.
Provide Your Dog with an Orthopedic Bed
An orthopedic dog bed will help take some of the pressure off your dog’s joints while he rests or sleeps. This will not only help reduce the amount of joint pain he experiences, but it’ll also make it easier for your dog to get a good night’s sleep.
Provide Omega-3 Supplements to Your Dog
Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and joint pain, and they may also provide benefits for your dog’s brain and cardiovascular system. There are a variety of omega-3 supplements available, and several commercial foods are also fortified with omega-3-rich ingredients.
Give Your Dog a Mobility Aid to Help Him Get Around
Hopefully, you’ve caught your dog’s joint problem before he needs a mobility aid, but if your dog is already having trouble walking, you may need one of these mobility tools.
Both Dasuquin and Cosequin can help repair any joint damage that has already occurred, but they are even better at preventing new damage from occurring. So, it is important to begin supplementing your dog as soon as possible, to give him the best chance at a healthy, happy and pain-free life.
Because large dogs are at increased risk of suffering joint problems, most Canine Weekly readers should default to Dasuquin. But, if for some reason, Dasuquin isn’t the best choice for your dog, Cosequin is an excellent alternative.