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Joint supplements for dogs

Testing seven of the best joint supplements for dogs 📷: Sara Ondrako

Joint pain is a reality for many dogs as they age — but especially for super active and large-breed dogs. One of the most common causes of joint pain is osteoarthritis, which occurs when protective cartilage in a dog’s joints begins to break down. The pain can make it difficult and uncomfortable for your doggie to go on long walks and do other activities they used to love.

A joint supplement can help prevent and ease your dog’s pain. But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best option for your pup. To help, the betterpet team reviewed popular hip and joint supplements for dogs based on a number of factors, like smell, ingredients, packaging, effectiveness, and more.

Our fav joint supplements for dogs 

Our top pick

If you’re looking for a trusted product with safe and effective ingredients, Nutramax Dasuquin is a great choice. We love that this supplement is vet-recommended and includes ingredients with anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory properties. And, if that weren’t enough, our doggie reviewers loved the flavor of these chews.

  • Ingredients. These Nutramax Dasuquin soft chews have undergone clinical trials that help to ensure they’re full of safe and effective ingredients. Our product reviewer and vet also noted the high bioavailability of the ingredients.
  • Smell. Our human noses picked up a grainy scent, though our dogs didn’t seem to mind the smell of these chews.
  • Consistency. These chews were consistent in shape, size, color, and feel.
  • Palatability. Our doggie reviewers loved the taste of these supplements.
  • Packaging. The bag easily reseals to keep these supplements fresh.

What our vet thinks

Betterpet vet Dr. Erica Irish approves of this trusted brand and the effective ingredients in its formula. She notes that Nutramax’s products are backed by science, and Dr. Irish has even given these supplements to her own pups.

Our natural pick

Natural Dog Company Hip & Joint chews have a meaty smell and taste that dogs love. They’re also made with simple ingredients that promote joint health, like salmon oil and New Zealand green-lipped mussel. Our team noted that this option does contain palm oil, which can be a controversial ingredient. That said, the data isn’t conclusive, and we still recommend this option.

  • Ingredients. Ingredients like New Zealand green-lipped mussel, glucosamine, and chondroitin get our stamp of approval. We had some concerns about palm oil, though, and our product reviewer noted the unsustainable nature of salmon oil, so pet parents may want to limit how often they give these to their dog.
  • Smell. These supplements have a mild meaty smell that the dogs were excited about.
  • Consistency. This supplement is soft in texture and easy to chew.
  • Palatability. The dogs loved the meaty flavor of these chews.
  • Packaging. The supplements come in a sealable plastic container with a lid.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish is a fan of the glycosaminoglycan and green-lipped mussel in these chews. Her only hesitation refers to the inclusion of palm oil in this supplement, but because of the company’s reputation and solid reviews, she still recommends it.

Best all-organic

Premium Care Hemp Mobility Chews have an impressive combination of joint health heroes, including glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and eggshell membrane. Dogs love the flavor, and this is a solid choice for pet parents in search of an organic supplement for their pup. One concern our team had, though, was about the effectiveness of hemp.

  • Ingredients. These chews contain MSM, hemp, glucosamine, turmeric, yucca schidigera, and collagen, but we wished the label indicated how much of each ingredient was included.
  • Smell. These chews have a meaty, grain-like smell that the dogs liked. 
  • Consistency. The supplements are consistent in shape and size.
  • Palatability. The dogs seemed to enjoy the flavor of these supplements.
  • Packaging. The supplements come sealed in a lidded plastic container.

What our vet thinks

These treats have effective ingredients, like glucosamine, turmeric, and eggshell membrane, but Dr. Irish notes that the efficacy and safety of hemp for use in dog supplements is still being studied.

Our limited-ingredient pick

A long ingredient list isn’t always a bad thing, but lots of supplements tend to include fillers and unnecessary ingredients. We liked Native Pet Relief chews for their limited list of no-nonsense ingredients. Our doggie testers loved these chews for their meaty flavor and spiced scent.

  • Ingredients. There are nine simple ingredients in this pick, including green-lipped mussel, all-natural polyphenol blend, turmeric extract, black pepper extract, and chicken. Our product reviewer liked the inclusion of bioperine and black pepper fruit extract to help dogs absorb the turmeric.
  • Smell. These supplements have an herbal scent. 
  • Consistency. The chews were mostly consistent, but a few pieces were smaller than the rest, which may affect dosage.
  • Palatability. The dogs seemed to really enjoy the flavor of these chews.
  • Packaging. The chews are secured in a plastic container that comes with a lid.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish likes Native Pet’s brand reputation and the inclusion of effective ingredients like turmeric and green-lipped mussel. Her main concern is the lack of information about whether or not black pepper extract is safe and effective for dogs, and Dr. Irish also notes that this product is not suitable for dogs with chicken allergies.

Best powder

Front of the Pack Move is a vegan, hypoallergenic powder supplement that includes several ingredients to support mobility and joint health, such as turmeric, glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin. The package can be a little messy, but it mixes into food easily, and our dogs seemed to enjoy the chicken flavor when we mixed this supplement with their regular food.

  • Ingredients. Ingredients include collagen, calcium fructoborate, glucosamine HCI, methylsulfonylmethane, chondroitin sulfates, curcumin phytosome, and natural chicken flavor. According to the company, this powder has also undergone thorough analysis in their lab.
  • Smell. The powder has a light scent that the dogs liked.
  • Consistency. The consistency of this supplement is that of a fine powder.
  • Palatability. The dogs seemed to like the chicken-flavored powder when mixed in with their food.
  • Packaging. The supplement comes in a non-resealable package, and subscribers receive a free resealable canister in which to store the powder. Our package arrived slightly opened, so it was a bit of a mess.

What our vet thinks

While this powder supplement isn’t her top choice on our list, Dr. Irish does like that this product contains glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin. That said, she would like to see more information about the efficacy of chicken collagen.

Our vegetarian pick

Rather than chews or powder, K9 Vegetarian Glucosamine is a liquid supplement that’s ideal for dogs with protein allergies. While our product reviewer noted that other supplements containing animal products might be more effective, she still feels this is a great option, especially for dogs with protein allergies. The ingredient bromelain is anti-inflammatory and can help provide some relief from joint pain in dogs.

  • Ingredients. Ingredients include MSM, glucosamine, bromelain, and a blend of omega fatty acids. Both our product reviewer and our vet noted that fatty acids aren’t as bioavailable when sourced from plants.
  • Smell. This product has a mild scent that the dogs were interested in, but they weren’t as excited about this option as some of the other options we tested.
  • Consistency. This liquid product is consistent in color and texture.
  • Palatability. Our pups quickly ate their food when it was coated in this supplement.
  • Packaging. The supplement arrives in a well-sealed bottle.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish likes that this liquid supplement is an option for dogs with meat and fish allergies. She notes that fatty acids sourced from plants are not as effective as those sourced from animals, but she understands the need for a vegetarian alternative for some dogs. Dr. Irish also couldn’t find much scientific information about the effect of bromelain on dogs.

Backed by science

Another trusted product from Nutramax, these maximum strength chews are vet-approved thanks to the company’s emphasis on science. Our reviewer and vet love the ingredients in this supplement, although our reviewer is wary of the inclusion of dextrose, which can quickly raise blood glucose levels.

  • Ingredients. Ingredients include glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, MSM, manganese, and dextrose.
  • Smell. The dogs responded well to the mild scent of these chewable tablets.
  • Consistency. These chews are consistent in texture, color, shape, and size.
  • Palatability. While the dogs did seem to like the flavor of these chews, they were less enthusiastic about them than they were about some of the other products we tested.
  • Packaging. These chews arrived in a plastic, resealable bottle.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish likes the Nutramax brand for its focus on science when formulating products. She approves of the ingredients in these chews, as well as the affordable cost.

Our research process 

Why you should trust our reviews

  • Dr. Erica Irish helped us formulate this list — Our veterinarian reviewed each joint supplement on this list, providing her honest thoughts about the pros and cons of each.
  • We ordered and paid for these products — We used our own resources to buy and test these supplements. None of our picks were gifted, allowing us to give our honest feedback when conducting these reviews.
  • We sent them off with our product researcher to test in the field — We sent these dog joint supplements over to Sara Ondrako, certified canine behavior consultant and veterinary nurse, to test out. She reviewed them based on the factors that are most important to pet parents, like safety and effectiveness.

How we picked

We searched the internet and top marketplaces like Amazon and Chewy for popular, highly-rated dog joint supplements. From there, Dr. Irish helped us narrow down our list, and we ordered the products and sent them to our reviewer. Our team then determined which product was our top pick, the product that scored the highest in all of our criteria.

At first glance

Here’s a closer look at how the products stack up against each other.

Product Price Amount Price per count
Nutramax Dasuquin $77.99 150 chews $0.51
Natural Dog Company $24.95 90 chews $0.28
Premium Care $24.96 120 chews $0.21
Native Pet $23.99 60 chews $0.40
Front of the Pack $39.99 60 scoops $0.67
K9 Vegetarian $28.99 32 ounces $0.90
Nutramax Cosequin $55.99 250 chews $0.22

*price at the time of our review

How we tested these products

Testing joint supplements

Our pup couldn’t wait to taste these Native Pet Relief supplements 📷: Sara Ondrako

We worked with our product reviewer and Dr. Irish to determine important criteria pet parents consider when buying dog joint supplements. We tested each option against the following criteria:

  • Ingredients. We evaluated products to determine if the ingredients were safe and how effective they were at promoting joint health.
  • Smell. While we want options that aren’t too offensive to human noses, the main focus is to find supplements that smell good to dogs.
  • Consistency. We checked each package and container to ensure the supplements were all similar in size, shape, color, and texture.
  • Palatability. A pleasing taste is important if you want your pup to take supplements regularly without hassle, so we noted how eager (or not) our dogs were to take the supplements. 
  • Packaging. We noted how easy or difficult it was to open and reseal each product, which is important for freshness.

What else should pet parents consider?

Does your pet need a joint supplement?

Joint supplements can help breeds that are prone to joint pain and arthritis. For dogs experiencing joint pain, supplements can help prevent further damage and offer some relief by reducing inflammation. If your dog is a large breed, an older dog, or has existing joint pain or mobility issues, you may want to talk with your vet about a joint supplement.

That said, you should also be aware that certain supplements can actually cause joint issues in dogs. As betterpet vet Dr. Erica Irish explains, “Overuse of vitamin supplements early in life can contribute to the malformation of bones and joints.” Many puppies just need a good, well-balanced diet and nothing more, so keep this in mind before incorporating supplements into your pup’s diet.

Benefits of joint supplements for dogs

Joint supplements for dogs can work to ease joint pain and prevent joint damage. Supplements may help reduce or prevent inflammation and can protect the cartilage around a dog’s joints.

The difference between human and doggie joint supplements

As many of us know all too well, people suffer from all kinds of joint woes. We have that in common with our four-legged friends. While some of the ingredients in human and dog supplements might be the same, treatments formulated for people may also include substances like xylitol that are toxic to dogs. That’s why it’s never a good idea to give your dog a supplement formulated for humans.

Types of doggie joint supplements

Many picky pups prefer taking supplements a certain way. Some are happy to gobble up powder sprinkled atop their food, while others prefer a pill or tablet. Just keep in mind that you have some options when it comes to how to dose your doggo.

  • Chews. Chewable supplements are an easy way to trick your dog into thinking they’re getting a treat instead of taking medicine. Chews are one of the most popular dog joint supplement formulations, especially because they tend to come in dog-friendly flavors.
  • Tablets. Tablets have a crunchy (rather than chewy) texture, but some dogs react to tablets as though they’re getting a treat.
  • Powders. You can simply sprinkle powder supplements over your dog’s normal food. Some pups won’t even notice that you’ve added a healthy topping to their kibble.
  • Liquids. Most dog owners mix liquids in with their pup’s food, similar to administering a powder. Some supplements can be pumped on top of your doggo’s food. Other liquid formulas are meant to be squirted down your dog’s throat, which most dogs don’t tend to enjoy.
  • Kibble. Some dog foods are formulated with joint health in mind. Vets can recommend prescription diets, too. These diets are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and glycosaminoglycans.

How joint supplements work

Joint supplements work by inhibiting certain enzymes that wear down and destroy cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that acts as a shock absorber or cushion between a dog’s bones. Some ingredients in these supplements also provide a mild anti-inflammatory effect.

Supplements differ from joint medications in that they’re not considered drugs. Drugs are regulated and require a prescription, while supplements are considered nutritional additives.

Common joint supplement ingredients

To pick the best supplement for your dog, it’s helpful to know more about some of the most common ingredients they contain. We’ve listed a few of the most common below:

Glucosamine hydrochloride. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that helps keep cartilage healthy by aiding in its restoration. It also helps reduce inflammation.

Chondroitin sulfate. This compound fights certain enzymes that harm cartilage.

Omega fatty acids. Fish and krill oils are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega fatty acids are helpful for lots of things, such as immune system and organ health. They also help reduce joint inflammation.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). This compound provides pain relief and has anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties.

Green-lipped mussel. Yep, we are referring to mussels from the ocean. These little sea critters naturally contain glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids.

Hyaluronic acid. This is a compound that keeps connective tissue healthy. It also helps with joint lubrication and makes cartilage more resistant to wear and tear.

Collagen. Collagen is a compound found in connective tissue. As dogs age, they lose collagen, so including it in their diet can be helpful.

Antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in lots of supplements. They prevent damage from free radicals and support liver health.

Turmeric. You might know it as a spice, but turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists have actually studied its properties, and research says it works. Cue the arthritis-free tail wagging!

Joint issues in dogs: an overview

Joint issues in dogs are usually either degenerative or developmental. Degenerative joint issues can be caused by the aging process or injuries caused by activity. In short, wear and tear on our dogs’ bodies causes problems over time.

Developmental joint issues refer to improper joint development. This happens when a dog’s joint doesn’t form properly.

Common canine conditions that cause joint pain

Two of the most common conditions joint supplements can help with are arthritis and hip dysplasia. In addition, joint supplements can also help with the general aches and pains doggos experience as they get older. Below are some of the most common joint issues in dogs, along with information about what causes each condition.

Osteoarthritis. When the tissue that separates and protects bones deteriorates, a dog’s joints become inflamed. In the term osteoarthritis, “osteo” refers to the way the body tries to stabilize joints by creating bone overgrowth in those areas.

Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip socket doesn’t form properly. Because the socket is improperly shaped, the joint rubs against it, which can be extremely painful.

Connective tissue diseases. These diseases are relatively rare and take a vet to diagnose. They can be caused by genetics or environmental factors. A rare disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is one example of this type of condition.

Wobbler syndrome. This condition is also called cervical spondylomyelopathy. It causes issues with the spinal cord and spinal cord roots. It can also cause neck pain.

Luxating patella. This condition occurs when the patella, another word for the kneecap, moves out of place.

Tick-borne diseases. Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, ehrlichia, and anaplasmosis can cause joint inflammation.

Cancer. Synovial cell sarcoma, a type of cancer, can lead to a condition called cancerous arthritis. Some bone cancers can also affect a dog’s joints.

Osteochondritis dissecans. When cartilage doesn’t develop correctly, it can separate from the bone. Puppies that grow too quickly are especially prone to this.

Panosteitis. This condition occurs when a young dog’s bones grow too fast. It leads to painful inflammation but mostly affects the bone rather than the joint.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. This condition occurs when the top part of the femur (thigh bone) deteriorates due to a lack of proper blood flow. It’s also known as aseptic necrosis of the femoral head. It can lead to pain and movement issues.

Injuries. Bone fractures and ligament tears can lead to joint pain and other issues.

Recognizing joint pain in your pup

If you notice that your dog is acting like they might be in pain, you’ll want to call your veterinarian. Below are some signs to look for:

Limping and stiffness. Just like in people, these are tell-tale signs of pain.

Lethargy. If your dog is moving slower than normal, they might have joint issues. They might also sleep more than usual.

Slower speeds. If your dog’s “zoomies” suddenly slow or become nonexistent, a joint issue could be to blame.

Irritability. Animals in pain tend to have a shorter fuse.

Difficulty jumping. If your pup is refusing to jump on the couch or climb into the car, they may be experiencing joint pain. 

Changes in their running style. If you’ve noticed your dog is hopping or running awkwardly, they might be compensating for a painful joint.

Yelping and crying. These behaviors are sure signs that something’s wrong.

Swollen and tender joints. Always be careful when touching a joint you suspect is swollen.

Loss of muscle mass. If your dog starts losing weight, it could be a sign of muscle loss.

Excessive licking. Dogs sometimes lick areas on their body where they’re experiencing pain.

Breeds most likely to have joint issues

Size and weight are the biggest contributors to joint issues in dogs. Bigger dogs simply have more mass to carry around. The heavier a pup, the greater the stress on their joints. This is also why it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s weight.

If your dog is overweight, your vet will likely suggest a safe and healthy weight loss plan. However, even young dogs of healthy weights can develop joint issues.

There are also some genetic issues that certain breeds are more likely to suffer from. That said, any dog of any breed can be born with joint conditions or develop a problem due to age or injury.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the most effective joint supplement for dogs?

You’ll want to talk to your vet for advice about the best joint supplement for your furry friend. But based on ingredients, brand reputation, and, of course, smell and taste, our top pick is Nutramax Dasuquin.

Do dog joint supplements work?

Supplements are widely unregulated, but there are dog joint supplements that are made with ingredients proven to support joint health. Some companies also put their products through clinical trials to test their efficacy. You should speak with your vet for recommendations, and consider the vet-recommended options on our list.

Which is better for dogs: glucosamine or chondroitin?

Glucosamine and chondroitin work together to support joint health. When combined, these ingredients have been shown to repair cartilage, reduce inflammation, and prevent cartilage erosion.

How can I help strengthen my dog’s joints naturally?

There are many ways to support your dog’s joint health naturally. Help your pup maintain a healthy weight with regular exercise and proper nutrition.

At what age should dogs take joint supplements?

Dogs can begin joint supplements when their body stops growing. Joint supplements can help to prevent your dog from developing problems later in life. Speak with your vet about what might be best for your pup.