What is the best joint supplement for an older dog?

As dogs age, their joints can start to deteriorate, leading to stiffness, pain, and reduced mobility. Just like in humans, arthritis is common in older dogs. Providing joint supplements can help ease these symptoms and improve your senior dog’s quality of life.

But with so many joint supplements for dogs on the market, how do you know which one is right for your pup? Here, we’ll discuss how to choose the best joint supplement for your older dog.

What causes joint problems in older dogs?

Joint issues in senior dogs are usually caused by osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Cartilage acts as a cushion in the joints. When it deteriorates, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, inflammation, and loss of mobility.

Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly over time. Factors that contribute to osteoarthritis include:

  • Old age – osteoarthritis is more common as dogs age
  • Obesity – excess weight puts pressure on joints
  • Injury – such as ACL tears or hip dysplasia
  • Genetics – some breeds are prone to joint issues
  • Overuse – repetitive motions from running/jumping can wear down joints

No matter the initial cause, osteoarthritis eventually leads to the same degenerative issues in the joints. Providing joint supplements can help manage pain and inflammation to improve mobility.

What are the signs of arthritis in dogs?

Signs that your senior dog may have arthritis include:

  • Difficulty getting up, lying down, or climbing stairs
  • Stiffness after resting, especially after waking up
  • Limping or favoring one or more limbs
  • Reluctance to run, jump, or play
  • Lagging behind on walks
  • Irritability or changes in temperament

These signs tend to gradually worsen over time. Dogs are stoic by nature, so changes in behavior can indicate your dog is in pain or discomfort. Contact your vet if you notice any of these osteoarthritis symptoms in your senior dog.

What ingredients should you look for in joint supplements?

There are several compounds found in joint supplements that can help ease arthritis symptoms in dogs. These include:


Glucosamine is one of the most common and well-researched supplements for dog arthritis. It is a building block needed for the production of cartilage and synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. Glucosamine may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Multiple studies show it can reduce arthritis pain and improve mobility in dogs.


Chondroitin is often combined with glucosamine in joint supplements. It’s a structural component of cartilage that gives it elasticity and shock absorption. Chondroitin attracts fluid to joint tissue, acting as a sponge to keep cartilage thick and healthy.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is a source of sulfur, which is needed for the production of collagen in ligaments, tendons, and joints. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain relief effects. Studies indicate MSM may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s found in fish, krill, or plant oils help lubricate joints and decrease inflammation. They also support joint cartilage. Adding an omega-3 supplement or oil to your dog’s food provides omega-3s that help keep joints healthy.


Curcumin is a compound found in the spice turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that help ease osteoarthritis pain. Look for a supplement with curcumin enhanced for maximum absorption and effectiveness.

Green lipped mussel

This shellfish contains unique omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent inflammation and cartilage breakdown. Some research shows green lipped mussel extract can significantly reduce arthritis symptoms in dogs.

The best dog joint supplements will contain some combination of these researched ingredients shown to aid joint health and comfort.

What types of joint supplements are available for dogs?

Joint supplements for dogs are available in several forms:


Powdered supplements can easily be mixed into your dog’s regular food. This provides an easy way to provide joint support at mealtime.

Tablets or capsules

Pills, capsules, or tablets allow precise dosing but may be more difficult to administer to some dogs. Check that the coating is palatable.


Liquid supplements can be squirted directly into the mouth or poured over food at mealtime. Liquids are readily absorbed.

Soft chews or treats

Joint supplement treats or soft chews make giving supplements easy and tasty. However, dosing may vary treat to treat.


Creams, gels, or ointments allow direct application to painful joints. However, absorption may be less than oral supplements.

Work with your vet to determine which joint supplement formulation and delivery method works best for your pooch.

How much joint supplement should you give your dog?

Follow the specific dosage recommendations on your chosen joint supplement. Dosing is usually based on your dog’s weight.

For example, typical glucosamine dosing guidelines are:

  • Less than 10 lbs: 500 mg glucosamine per day
  • 10-19 lbs: 500-600 mg glucosamine per day
  • 20-49 lbs: 700-900 mg glucosamine per day
  • 50-100 lbs: 1000-1200 mg glucosamine per day
  • Over 100 lbs: 1200-1500 mg glucosamine per day

For other joint supplement ingredients, follow manufacturer or veterinarian guidelines. Stick with the recommended dosage for your dog – more is not necessarily better with joint supplements.

When should you give joint supplements to an older dog?

Joint supplements can be given to dogs proactively to help support joint health before osteoarthritis sets in. Giving supplements earlier helps nourish cartilage to possibly delay the onset of arthritis.

Once osteoarthritis develops, joint supplements help manage symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. At this point, supplements become an integral part of managing your dog’s comfort and mobility.

Continue supplements long term once arthritis is present to support your senior dog’s continued quality of life.

How long does it take for joint supplements to work in dogs?

You may see minor improvements in your dog’s mobility within a couple weeks of starting joint supplements. However, the full effects usually take 6-8 weeks to become apparent.

Be patient – keep giving the supplements daily and stick with the regimen for a couple months. Monitor your dog for improvements in activity levels, pain, stiffness, limping, and arthritis symptoms.

For maximum benefit long term, joint supplements need to be continued regularly as part of your dog’s daily routine.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Joint supplements are generally very safe for dogs. However, potential side effects can include:

  • Digestive upset (diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite)
  • Allergic reactions (itching, hives, swelling)

Start with small doses and gradually increase to the full dosage over a week or two to reduce risk of side effects.

Some supplements may interact with medications your dog is taking, so always let your vet know any supplements you are giving.

What’s the best joint supplement brand for dogs?

Some top vet recommended joint supplement brands include:


Dasuquin combines glucosamine, chondroitin, and ASU. ASU is avocado/soybean unsaponifiables shown to protect cartilage. It comes in chewable tablets for easy dosing.


Cosequin also contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and ASU. It comes in tasty soft chews or tablets. It is one of the most recommended brands by vets.


Glycoflex provides a comprehensive joint support formula with glucosamine, MSM, DMG, and manganese. It comes in soft chews, tablets, and liquid formulas.

Nutramax Welactin

Welactin delivers omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fish oil with added Vitamin E. Omega-3s provide anti-inflammatory relief.

Consult your vet on which brand they recommend. Human supplements are not interchangeable with dog supplements. Purchase joint supplements formulated specifically for dogs.

Homemade joint supplement recipes for dogs

You can also make homemade joint supplement recipes for your dog using ingredients you likely have on hand:

Glucosamine broth

Simmer 1-2 glucosamine supplements for dogs in 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable) for 10 minutes. The broth will absorb the glucosamine to provide supplementation when fed. Refrigerate leftovers.

Turmeric milk

Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder into your dog’s milk or food. The curcumin in turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits.

Fish oil topping

Drizzle high quality fish oil over your dog’s breakfast or dinner. Fish oil lubricates joints and reduces inflammation.

Check with your vet before supplementing with homemade remedies, especially if your dog takes any other medications.


Regular joint supplementation tailored to your individual dog is key to managing osteoarthritis and keeping your senior dog active and comfortable. There are many effective joint supplement products and ingredients to choose from.

Have an open dialogue with your vet to determine the ideal joint support regimen. They can provide dosing guidelines and monitor your dog’s progress at annual wellness exams.

With the right joint care, your older dog can continue to enjoy exercise, play, and life’s simple pleasures. The effort to find the perfect joint supplement pays off in their improved pain-free mobility and happiness.

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