Just like with humans, joints are an integral part of the skeletal system and over time, with age, they can become stiff, sore, inflamed, and painful. Many pet owners will begin to notice their beloved older dog limping or slow to rise after a nice nap and want to help alleviate their discomfort. But, are over-the-counter dog joint supplements really helpful? Are there real benefits for your dog? Here is a little more information to help you make an informed choice. As always, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian before introducing any supplements to your pet to avoid harmful interaction with prescription medications and to review the ingredient list to ensure there isn’t anything dangerous for pets in them since supplements are not regulated by the FDA.  

Dogs, just like humans, require specific vitamins and organic compounds to ensure balanced nutrition and to promote normal growth. As with other animals including humans, dogs are unable to produce vitamins or minerals naturally.  They need to consume them through their diet so their bodies can perform their functions, this includes their joints and bones. Commercially made dog foods are formulated to meet the “complete and balanced” nutritional needs of dogs. Most dog food labels will state this so you can rest assured it has all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs overall health and joint needs. 

However, there are several factors which can affect your dog’s joints, leading to osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease, such as genetics, aging, and poor nutrition. Speaking with your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian can help you plan for the future. Some of the signs of osteoarthritis to look for include:

  • Lameness
  • Weight gain
  • Pain while getting petted
  • Irritability

Some of the more commonly used treatment ingredients for supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin (often combined with MSM), green-lipped mussels (GLMs), and omega-3s (fish oil). More study is needed to confirm the effectiveness of the following ingredients but some supplements now also include turmeric, dried milk protein, and even CBD!  Arthritis is a serious degenerative disease, consult your veterinarian for their expert advice and suggestions BEFORE starting any supplement or treatment. It is NEVER recommended to give your dog human supplements without your Veterinarian’s approval. Bring any supplement information with you to your appointment so they can review:

  • Any clinical studies conducted on the supplement.
  • The ingredient labels for quality and safety.
  • The product’s lot number. (This is a good sign that the supplement company utilizes quality control checks.
  • The brand and confirm if they have any knowledge of its results.

Supplements suggested or approved by your veterinarian should be the only ones given to your dog. If the condition of your pet changes, please discuss them with your veterinarian before making any changes. They may have prescription medications that will be required to help your dog with pain management as the disease progresses. Never double up the supplements without first consulting your dog’s doctor.