Hip and joint pain are very common ailments that afflict a significant percentage of the pet population. Although these types of problems are rarely life-threatening, they usually reduce a dog’s quality of life and make even mundane tasks, such as walking and getting up from bed difficult.
However, there are a number of commercially produced supplements available, which contain various ingredients that often provide relief to dogs suffering from joint stiffness and pain. Five of the best options are detailed below, and information about the causes of joint pain, breeds susceptible to joint problems and strategies for protecting your dog’s joints is included farther down the page.
Nutramax Dasuquin Chewable Tablets
Vetri-Science Laboratories Glyco-Flex III Bite-Sized Dog Chews
Doggie Dailies Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement Chews
Infinite Pet Supplements All-Natural Hip & Joint Supplement
The Missing Link Ultimate Hip, Joint & Coat Dog Supplement
Nutramax Chewable Tablets are great joint supplements for big breeds, as they are specifically formulated for dogs weighing more than 60 pounds. These naturally flavored chews are not only easy to administer to your dog, but they contain four different nutritional supplements to help strengthen and protect your dog’s joints.
· Nutramax is the number one brand recommended by veterinarians for joint health
· Contains chondroitin, glucosamine, avocado or soybean unsaponifiables and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
· This formulation has been fine-tuned by incorporating more than 10 years of clinical research
User Reviews: Most owners report that Nutramax Dasuquin reduced their dog’s pain and stiffness and improved joint mobility. Many even reported that their dog became happier and more energetic. A few customers complained about the cost of the supplement, but most found it to be well worth the additional expense.
Bottom Line: Given the combination of great reviews, the assorted mix of joint-supplementing compounds contained in the recipe and the fact that they are made specifically for large breeds, Nutramax Chewable Tablets are one of the best choices for most of our readers, who aren’t put off by the relatively high price point.
Glyco-Flexx III Dog Chews are specifically designed to supply the proper supplementation levels for active or working dogs and seniors. Glyco-Flexx III is made with 10 different compounds thought to support joint health, including: glucosamine, MSM, green-lipped mussel, DMG, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, manganese, grape seed extract, L-glutathione and selenium.
· Veterinarians have recommended the GlycoFlex Joint Support Stages System for more than 40 years
· According to the manufacturer, some dogs exhibit as much as 41% more leg strength after only 4 weeks of using this supplement
· Naturally flavored with real chicken
· Made for dogs of all sizes and weights
User Reviews: Most owners who provided Glyco-Flexx III to their dog for several weeks reported improvements in both flexibility, mobility and activity level. It also appears to help reduce the pain many dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia experience. Unfortunately, a few owners reported quality-control problems with Glyco-Flex III; however, such reports were very rare in relation to the number of owners who were very pleased.
Bottom Line: Glyco-Flexx III contains more joint-supporting compounds than any of the other supplements in our review, so it may be a good option for dogs who have not responded to other supplements. Most dogs seem to find the taste acceptable and the price is very reasonable, so it represents a low-risk option that deserves consideration.
Doggie Dailies are great-tasting, chicken-flavored chews, designed to help support joint health in dogs of all sizes. Each Doggie Daily contains six different active ingredients in each chew, including: glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, Yucca shidigera, co-enzyme Q10 and hyaluronic acid.
· Contains salmon oil and cod liver oil to help support coat health
· Two bonus ebooks included with purchase
· Made in the USA at a FDA-registered facility
User Reviews: The majority of owners who tried Doggie Dailies for several weeks reported good results. Many dogs began exhibiting better mobility and suffering from less pain after taking these chews, and several owners mentioned that their dog loved the taste.
Bottom Line: Doggie Dailies are very affordable hip and joint supplements, but they contain several of the same compounds that more expensive supplements do, as well as a few high-priced products don’t typically include. Additionally, because Doggie Dailies are backed by a manufacturer’s guarantee, you don’t have much to lose by trying them.
Infinite Pet Supplements are safe and simple chewable tablets, made with four simple active ingredients: glucosamine, organic turmeric, chondroitin and MSM. Designed to provide your pet with everything his joints need and nothing they don’t, Infinite Pet Supplements are made without any harmful additives or ingredients.
· Natural beef-liver flavor ensures your dogs will love these tablets
· Made in the USA in a GMP-certified factory
· Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer
User Reviews: The majority of owners reported great results from Infinite Pet Supplements, citing their dogs’ improved mobility and reduced pain. Many owners even reported that their dog’s mood improved after using these supplements. A few owners failed to see any positive benefits, but this is a possibility with any supplement.
Bottom Line: Infinite Pet Supplements are high-quality, yet affordable chews that have helped many dogs feel better. Because they are made with very few ingredients, they are a wise choice for dogs that have delicate digestive systems or suffer from food allergies.
The Missing Link Ultimate Hip, Joint & Coat Supplement is different from many other supplements on the market, as it is designed not only to address your dog’s joint problems, but any coat problems he may be experiencing as well. This powdered formulation contains a number of different active ingredients, but it primarily relies on glucosamine to improve joint health.
· Contains omega fatty acids to help promote brain, eye and coat health, as well as sustained energy levels
· Made with antioxidant-rich kelp, which can help support immune function
· Formulated with sources of dietary fiber to help improve digestive system health
User Reviews: The Missing Link Ultimate Hip, Joint & Coat Supplement is one of the best-reviewed supplements on the market, and the vast majority of owners who shared their experiences have been very pleased. Most owners report that their dog’s joint problems became much less severe and that their dog was enjoying a much higher quality of life after starting the treatment.
Bottom Line: Given its low price and great reviews, most owners should give The Missing Link Ultimate Hip, Joint & Coat Supplement serious consideration. Not only does it appear to be very effective for treating joint problems, it also contains ingredients that may provide your dog with a number of ancillary benefits, including improved coat and intestinal health.
Dogs can suffer from hip and joint problems for a number of reasons, and some poor dogs suffer from more than one problem simultaneously.
The cartilage in your dog’s body cushions the bones that comprise his joints. This allows them to bend against or slide past one another easily. However, cartilage can break down over time, which can cause the joints to become quite painful. Some supplements may help to prevent further cartilage loss and veterinarians are sometimes able to transplant healthy cartilage to damaged joints to alleviate pain too. Large, overweight and highly active dogs are at the greatest risk of developing osteoarthritis, and most dogs that develop the condition are of advanced age.
Although they both cause pain and stiffness in the joints, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two very different conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is a relatively poorly understood autoimmune disease, in which your dog’s immune system begins attacking the tissues in his joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis often causes additional symptoms, such as elevated temperature, lethargy and general feelings of being unwell. One of the classic signs that indicates that a dog’s joint pain may be caused by this autoimmune disease is the presence of equal pain and stiffness on both sides of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly diagnosed in young or middle-aged dogs.
Dogs with hip dysplasia have improperly formed hip joints. This causes the joint to be unstable, which often leads to pain and osteoarthritis. Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease, which usually occurs along familial lines. Not all dogs born to parents will hip dysplasia will develop the condition, and apparently healthy dogs can produce puppies who will go on to develop the condition. Accordingly, many veterinarians believe that the genetic component of the condition predisposes some dogs to developing the condition, but it is not clear which factors cause it to manifest.
Dogs can suffer injuries to their tendons (fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone) or ligaments (fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones). Injuries can vary from mild to severe, so the symptoms of these injuries may range from very subtle pain to lameness or immobility. Mild injuries will often heal over time with rest, but more serious damage may require surgical solutions. Some breeds are predisposed to tendon or ligament issues, but most can be avoided by exercising care during play time.
While any dog can suffer from joint or hip problems, some breeds are far more likely to suffer from these types of issues than other are. Generally speaking, hip and joint problems are most common among large, bulky breeds, including the following:
Although mixed breed dogs (mutts) can develop hip and joint problems, they are typically less common than in purebred dogs. This is especially true of inherited joint diseases.
Different joint problems cause different types of symptoms, but some of the most common signs of joint pain, discomfort or dysfunction include:
It is important to realize that not all dogs exhibit obvious symptoms that they are suffering from hip or joint pain, so owners will need to be as observant as possible. This way, you can begin treating your dog’s pain and inflammation quickly, which will not only provide him with relief, but also allow you to slow or halt the progression of some problems.
You’ll also want to work closely with your vet, especially as your dog ages. Your vet’s trained eye may allow him or her to notice subtle signs that may indicate a problem.
Over the last few decades, scientists have learned about a few ingredients that can help alleviate some of the pain caused by joint problems. While most of these ingredients have some empirical data that confirms their efficacy, they are not helpful in all cases. Accordingly, you may need to experiment with different supplements, while working closely with your veterinarian.
Glucosamine is a chemical compound that the body uses to produce some types of cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It is thought that by providing your dog with supplemental glucosamine, you can help support and encourage the production of new cartilage. The glucosamine used in most supplements is harvested from the exoskeletons of shrimp, crab and other crustaceans.
Chondroitin sulfate is another building block of some types of cartilage, and by providing additional chondroitin to your dog, you may enable his body to rebuild his damaged cartilage more effectively. However, this is only half of the story – chondroitin sulfate also appears to serve a protective function, which can help reduce the amount of damage that occurs moving forward. Your dog’s body produces chondroitin naturally, but the amount produced decreases with age, thereby making this a particularly helpful supplement for older dogs. Much of the commercially harvested chondroitin originates from bovines or green-lipped mussels.
Omega fatty acids are important for a variety of biological processes, including proper eye development, supporting proper coat and skin health and supporting proper brain function. However, one of the most important things that some omega fatty acids do is reduce inflammation. This can help reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia or injuries. Some of the best sources of omega fatty acids include flaxseed, salmon and other fish oils, soybean oil and extracts made from green-lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus).
Dimethylglycine, or DMG, is a naturally occurring metabolite that veterinarians and trainers have been administering to dogs for the last two decades or so. Although it appears very safe and well-tolerated by most dogs, there is very little clinical evidence demonstrating its efficacy. There is likely little reason to pay more for a supplement that contains DMG, but there’s no reason to avoid those that do.
Methylsulfonylmethane is a naturally occurring pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent that is often used to treat arthritis and related conditions in both humans and dogs. MSM appears to be very safe, and there is some clinical data that supports its ability to help decrease joint pain.
There are a number of medications that can help decrease inflammation and reduce joint pain, including steroids, NSAIDs and stronger pain-relieving medications. However, you must always consult your veterinarian before administering any medication to your dog (and many, such as steroids, are only available by prescription).
It is probably impossible to prevent some diseases that cause joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, you may be able to help reduce your dog’s chance of developing some other causes – particularly osteoarthritis and injuries – by following a few guidelines.
Exercise helps promote total body health in dogs, so it is always important to make sure your dog gets an appropriate amount of exercise (although you should always follow your vet’s advice regarding dogs who are predisposed to joint problems or already suffering from them). However, exercise also helps strengthen your dog’s muscles, which can keep joints more stable, which can help reduce damage and the associated pain.
Running through unfamiliar terrain often causes injuries, as does playing in unsafe areas. While most minor injuries heal without causing lasting effects, serious injuries can cause life-changing injuries, so you should always strive to avoid injuries. Make sure that your dog plays on flat, relatively soft surfaces, and that you always inspect the area for potential hazards before your dog starts running and jumping.
Dogs with a healthy body weight can suffer from joint problems, but they are much more common among overweight and obese dogs. Carrying around extra weight places additional strain on the bones and joints, which can lead to increased damage to the cartilage and pain. Because large breeds are already pushing the limits of their joints, and even trim individuals carry around quite a bit of bulk, it is especially important to keep big breed dogs at a proper weight.
As with most other health problems, joint issues are easiest to treat when diagnosed early. Not only can you begin providing some pain relief for your dog sooner, you can potentially avoid causing further damage. Accordingly, you’ll want to visit your vet at least once per year, and have him or her examine your dog’s joints carefully. The vet will not only check for pain in the joint, but also range-of-motion.
Puppies grow very quickly, which means that their bodies must build new tissue – including bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage – at a rapid rate. And because the improper amounts of calories or nutrients can lead to developmental problems, you need to be very careful to select a food formulated for puppies and to provide the proper amount of it. Large breeds grow even faster than small- and medium-sized dogs do, and they often continue to grow for a longer period of time, which means they have slightly different nutritional needs than their smaller counterparts do. Accordingly, it is often wise to purchase puppy foods specifically formulated for large breeds.
Have you ever cared for a dog with hip or joint issues? What types of things did you do to help provide your dog with relief? Share your experiences in the comments below – you never know when your story will be able to help someone else provide their dog with some relief.