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Senior golden retriever

Hip dysplasia is a condition common in large dog breeds. It occurs when the femur bone and hip socket don’t fit together properly. The hip joints become unstable, which can cause the deterioration of cartilage. Hip dysplasia can lead to canine osteoarthritis and negatively affect a dog’s quality of life. It’s also emotionally difficult on the dog’s parents.

“There’s a lot of scientific evidence that shows how glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and omega-3s can help dogs with osteoarthritis,” says Dr. Erica Irish, DVM. GAGs build back cartilage, including ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid. Omega-3s are essential for their anti-inflammatory effects. These ingredients can be given to your dog in the form of dietary supplements.

The 5 best supplements for dogs with hip dysplasia

  1. Native Pet Hip & Joint — Organic chicken chews for joint health
  2. MOVOFlex Joint Support Soft Chews — A veterinarian favorite
  3. Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews Joint Supplement — Scientifically formulated
  4. K9 Vegetarian Glucosamine — A vegetarian glucosamine blend
  5. Nutramax Cosequin — Omega-3 fatty acids included

Our favorite supplements for hip dysplasia in dogs, reviewed

What we love: These organic chicken chews are our first pick for a great joint supplement. Made up of  6 all-natural ingredients, you can be confident your dog is getting the very best in joint support. The green-lipped mussel is a natural source of glucosamine. This is one of the GAG ingredients that Dr. Irish recommends for dogs experiencing hip dysplasia. These supplements are air-dried and have a convenient serving size chart right on the label to help discern dosage.

What customer reviews say: This supplement has an average 4.5/5 star rating on Amazon, with pet parents reporting a lot of positive effects. Many reviewers say they can see vast improvements in their dogs’ mobility and physical abilities after starting on Native Pet. Some pet parents complain about the smell of these supplements, however, almost all report that their dogs take them happily as if eating a treat.

Ingredients: New Zealand green-lipped mussel, all-natural polyphenol blend, chicken bone broth, organic chicken, organic coconut glycerin, natural tocopherol.

What we love: This supplement option includes key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid for cartilage support and vitamin D for healthy bone function. But, almost just as important are the ingredients it doesn’t include. MOVO is a great choice for dogs with diet limitations since it isn’t made with gluten, sugar, shellfish, or salt.

What customer reviews say: With almost 4,000 ratings and an average of 4.8/5 stars, it’s obvious that dog parents approve of MOVOFlex. Some reviewers say they noticed an improvement in their dog’s gait, and that movement was not so stiff after using this product. MOVOFlex is recommended to many by their vets, and the results are very positive. It’s available in both 60 count and 120 count packs.

Ingredients: BIOVAFLEX eggshell membrane, hyaluronic acid, Boswellia serrata extract, ZANTHIN natural astaxanthin, vitamin D3.

What we love: These joint supplement chews are packed full of unique yet effective ingredients including green tea and ASU (Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables). This one-of-a-kind formula has been shown to support your dog’s overall joint health for the long term. It’s also designed for dogs over 60lbs, who tend to suffer more from wear on their joints.

What customer reviews say: This supplement boasts very high customer reviews on Chewy’s website. Some pet owners speak to its effectiveness on their dogs with early signs of hip dysplasia. They say there’s a noticeable difference in their dog’s walking and running abilities after a few weeks on this product. One happy reviewer says their husky is able to engage in the zoomies once again!

Ingredients: Glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, Boswellia serrata extract, green tea extract.

What we love: Unlike the chewable tablet options, K9 is a liquid supplement that you can easily give to your dog in a variety of ways. The glucosamine included in this supplement is derived from vegetable sources, giving it a unique formula great for dogs with dietary restrictions. This product would be a good option for dogs that are picky with treats, as some reviewers mix it in with wet dog food or allow it to be absorbed into dry food.

What customer reviews say: Customers are very happy with the results from this supplement. Consistency is key, and dogs seem to benefit from a daily dose of K9 over many weeks. A few reviewers speak very highly of K9s customer service — answering questions when needed. Some people haven’t had a good experience in giving this supplement to smaller dogs, so always check with your vet and verify the dosage first.

Ingredients: Glucosamine Hcl USP (corn), MSM (Methyl-sulfonylmethane 99.9%), bromelain (80 GDU), ascorbic acid, manganese (chelate), omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acid blend (borage oil, flaxseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil) (chelate) grape seed extract, hyaluronic acid.

What we love: Nutramax Cosequin includes methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, which is a chemical often used to treat arthritis in both humans and animals. This encourages mobility and protects the remaining cartilage in the hip joints. Nutramax offers a variety of different supplement options and is recommended by veterinarians. And according to the dosage chart, this chew can be given to dogs as small as 10lbs if needed.

What customer reviews say: This supplement chew boasts very positive reviews from dog parents, with 91% of buyers recommending the product. Several reviewers shared they noticed a huge difference in their dogs’ moods just hours after taking Nutramax. Some pups seem happier and relieved of some of their pain. This supplement seems particularly popular with parents of dogs ages 12 years and older, with one commenter saying it is effective for her 18-year-old pup!

Ingredients: Glucosamine hydrochloride, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), glucosamine, sodium chondroitin sulfate.

Our methodology: How we made our picks

Double-checked formulas with our vet — Dr. Irish specifically recommended a few on our list, like Nutramax Dasuquin and Nutramax Cosequin.

Looked for proven ingredients — We chose supplements with ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3s, and hyaluronic acid. According to our vet, there’s lots of scientific evidence that shows how these ingredients can help dogs with osteoarthritis.

We only picked from brands with vets or pet nutritionists — We focused our search on brands with a vet or pet nutritionist on staff. We also looked for brands that are a part of the National Animal Supplement Council.

Our vet’s favorite sources on doggie joint health

Black labrador retriever resting on grass

📷 by Brett Jordan

Supplements for canine hip dysplasia: The basics

  • Canine hip dysplasia is a common ailment that’s often seen in large and giant breed dogs — German shepherds, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers are a few of the breeds which often experience hip dysplasia.
  • Joint supplements which include Glycosaminoglycans support cartilage and joint lubrication — These ingredients help reduce swelling and therefore joint discomfort but don’t cure hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis.
  • Talk to your vet to find the best option for your dog — Your vet can properly diagnose hip dysplasia or any form of arthritis before giving advice on a treatment plan.

Signs your dog is having mobility issues

Most parents know when something isn’t quite right with their beloved pup. Below are a few symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog is at risk for hip dysplasia.

  • Limping or bunny hopping
  • Stiffness or visible discomfort when walking
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Loss of muscle mass in legs
  • Inability to run or play as normal

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs? 

  • Breed. It has been shown that some breeds are more likely to develop hip dysplasia than others. This is due to the fact that hip dysplasia is inherited and often shows up in large dogs, but can appear in smaller dogs, too.
  • Age. We often think of joint issues as a problem for older dogs, however, because hip dysplasia is a genetic trait, puppies can start experiencing hip laxity as early as 3 months old. Unfortunately, hip laxity can go unnoticed and lead to hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis as the dog ages.
  • Diet. A healthy diet is important for large breed dogs to maintain a proper weight. Foods rich in calcium may lead to abnormal bone development.

Look for these inflammation-fighting ingredients

  • Glucosamine. A natural compound found in cartilage, it’s shown to slow the effects of osteoarthritis and provide pain relief.
  • Chondroitin. One example of a glycosaminoglycan, it appears naturally in animal tissue and helps to increase a dog’s mobility.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can provide pain relief on aggravated joints.
  • Hyaluronic Acid. Another glycosaminoglycan, this is a naturally occurring fluid that provides joint lubrication.

Ingredients to avoid

  • Coconut Oil. According to Dr. Irish coconut oil does have some fatty acids, but it’s not as potent as fish oil and too much can increase the risk of pancreatitis.
  • Artificial Sweeteners. Sweeteners such as xylitol can cause severe hypoglycemia, seizures, and death.

Benefits of doggie joint supplements

  • Lubrication. Hyaluronic acid is the ingredient commonly found in supplements that lubricate sore joints. It improves the quality of the fluid surrounding the hip joints.
  • Pain relief. While early intervention and the use of supplements can lessen your dog’s pain long-term, many vets will recommend pain management along with supplements. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most common treatments used today.
  • Cartilage repair. The GAG ingredients found in top supplements help to repair joint cartilage that has been worn down due to hip dysplasia.

Other ways to support your dog’s joint health

Keep your dog at a healthy weight — Extra weight adds strain to sore joints, which can increase pain for your pup.

Give your dog low-impact exercise  — Keeping your dog active with easy exercise every day can help combat the effects of hip dysplasia. Consider going for a walk on grass or sand rather than a concrete sidewalk. Swimming is another low-impact exercise that many dogs enjoy.

Your vet may prescribe NSAIDsNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to treat pain and inflammation. Common types that your vet might prescribe include Carprofen, Deracoxib, and Firocoxib.

Frequently asked questions 

How can I treat my dog’s hip dysplasia naturally?

Excess weight can add to the symptoms of hip dysplasia, so simply shedding a few pounds could be beneficial for your pup’s joints. Additionally, Native Pet Hip & Joint supplement contains only all-natural ingredients. Physical therapy is another way to naturally manage canine hip dysplasia.

What can I give my dog for hip dysplasia?

The supplements listed here are a great place to start. Some pet parents might also consider a pain reliever (NSAIDs) in addition to supplements and vitamins.

What vitamins are good for hip dysplasia?

Supplements that contain both GAG’s and omega-3 fatty acids will be the most effective to treat hip dysplasia.

Is hip dysplasia curable?

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia isn’t curable. But it’s treatable through things like supplements, a healthy diet, exercise, and physical therapy. And in some cases, surgery may be recommended.