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Health & Wellness

Can joint supplements help my achy dog?

Joint supplements can help prevent and relieve joint-related aches and pains in pups.

Some of us might be familiar with the achy joints after a long run or stiffness after sitting down for too long. And unfortunately, our pups aren’t strangers to those sensations either. 

If you’ve noticed that your dog is limping at the dog park or having trouble getting to their favorite spot on the couch, they might be experiencing joint pain. Don’t fret, though — there are vet-approved supplements to help your pup feel more comfortable. 

You should always check with your veterinarian before introducing a new supplement to your dog’s regimen. But in the meantime, here's why dog-specific joint supplements may be a great addition to your pup’s diet.

Does my dog need joint supplements?

Some pups, like large-breed dogs, are more prone to developing joint issues because of the extra weight they carry. However, other dogs with conditions like obesity can experience increased pressure on the joints, too, Dr. Singler, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. 

You should consider your dog's age when deciding if joint supplements could benefit your pup. Many dogs are considered seniors when they’re around 8 years old. However, according to Dr. Singler, just before their senior years is a good time to consider adding joint-healthy foods and supplements to their diet.

Like us, the protective cartilage between a dog’s bones can wear away as they age. This deterioration can lead to arthritis, causing pain and mobility issues. Other conditions can cause arthritis, too, including: 

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Ruptured cruciate ligament
  • Suspected or diagnosed arthritis
  • High-grade patellar luxation
  • Any injury or trauma to one or more joints

“Joint supplements can’t reverse arthritis,” Dr. Singler says. “But they can help to support the joints, reduce inflammation and pain and potentially slow down the progression of arthritis.”

What are the best joint supplements for dogs?

You’ll want your vet’s approval and recommendations before visiting the pet store. Reputable brands make the best joint supplements for dogs and, Dr. Singler says, include one or more of these key ingredients: 


Glucosamine is a compound that naturally occurs in the body. It’s found in cartilage and helps cushion the joints. This ingredient is thought to slow the destruction of cartilage in joints affected by arthritis. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

According to Dr. Singler, omega-3 fatty acids help support healthy joints, reduce inflammation and can positively impact other parts of the body, like your pup’s skin, coat and cardiovascular system.

Chondroitin sulfate 

Like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate also naturally occurs in the body and is found in cartilage. It's another go-to supplement for slowing cartilage destruction in pets with arthritis. 

Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs) 

As the name suggests, this joint-healthy ingredient comes from avocados and soybeans. It’s a waxy by-product known for its joint-supporting benefits.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid lubricates the joints and cushions movements.

You might’ve heard that human-specific joint supplements are also OK for dogs to take. However, you’ll want to clear the brand with your veterinarian before serving it to your dog. Pills meant for people might contain unsafe ingredients for dogs or levels that could cause toxicity (like high concentrations of vitamin D). 

RELATED: Probiotics for dogs: How do they work?

Joint supplement dosing for dogs

Your veterinarian can tell you the proper size of your pup's joint supplement. “Generally, a dog with existing arthritis who has clinical signs will benefit more from having a higher loading dose given for the first few weeks to help them experience the effects more quickly,” Dr. Singler says.

A vet-recommended joint supplement is usually tolerated well, but any oral medication or supplement has the potential to disagree with your pup. Vomiting, diarrhea and an increased thirst are all indicators that your dog is having a negative reaction to their joint supplement, Dr. Singler shares. 

If your dog has an adverse reaction to their joint supplement, talk to your vet before continuing to give them the recommended dose.

How to give your dog joint supplements

Joint supplements for dogs come in several forms that are administered orally, including powder, tablet or chewable treats. Some dog foods incorporate joint-healthy ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin.

“Unless they’re prescription foods, they likely don’t have sufficient quantities of those ingredients to completely eliminate the need for a separate supplement,” Dr. Singler explains. So, talk with your vet when choosing a joint-healthy dog food — or any supplement.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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