Dog owners tend to be very sensitive to changes in their pups. Strange behavior can be an indicator that something is wrong, and we’ll often convince ourselves that the dog never did a certain thing before — as if this suggests that they’ve suffered an injury or are in pain in some way. When it comes to joint pain, though, that change can be a lot more subtle: taking a little longer to climb stairs, running slower and for shorter periods, hesitating to jump into the car or onto the couch.
For the most part, joint pain comes as a product of age, or the degenerative joint disease known as osteoarthritis. This condition is a result of cartilage cells dying, which in turn causes inflammation. As the environment within the joints deteriorate, each successive process expedites the others and can quickly leads to abnormal function and usage. Of course, age isn’t the only cause of this degeneration, but most dogs will suffer some form of it during old age.
Prevention of osteoarthritis requires early diagnosis, with a heavy emphasis on identifying known breed issues. Newfoundland dogs appear to have the highest occurrence of osteoarthritis, and generally speaking, the larger the dog, the higher the risk. Once your dog is known to have it, management becomes the key.
There are a few strategies to combat the disease. Therapy and non-weight-bearing exercise help manage further joint degeneration by focusing on the mechanics of the dog’s body. Alongside these, anti-inflammatory supplements including fish oil help to negate the swelling, which delays the knock-on effects. Finally, supplementing with glucosamine complements these activities.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that appears to correlate with improved creation of glycosaminoglycans, from which cartilage is made (source: AKC.org). When arthritis is present, the introduction of a glucosamine supplement appears to slow the progression of the disease. It is frequently suggested to help ease joint pain and wear.
To be totally clear, the science isn’t settled on this and it hasn’t been definitively proven. The addition of a glucosamine supplement should be overseen by your veterinarian, who can help you evaluate if it’s having the intended effect. The standard waiting period seems to be about three months to see any improvement. That said, if it can work, it could be worth trying. Many dog owners have seen improvement in their arthritic dogs with the simple addition of these supplements.
If you’ve noticed your dog losing a step lately, here are the top ten best joint supplements for dogs to help ease their pain.
1. PetNC Natural Care Hip & Joint for Dogs Mega Soft Chew
Available in several different formulations, these PetNC supplements all take the form of liver-flavored chewable doses that should entice even picky dogs. The Mega Soft Chew combines the treat-like formation with a large dose of 600 milligrams of glucosamine, in addition to 400 milligrams of chondroitin, which is a major component of cartilage.
The recommended dosage is one chew per 40 pounds of body weight per day. If your dog is younger and just starting to show signs of joint pain, the normal Soft Chew is available for $9.99 for 90 chews at a dosage of 250 mg of glucosamine each.
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 600 mg
Price: $24.99 for 90 chews
2. Vet’s Best Aspirin Free Aches & Pains Dog Supplements
We recommended Vet’s Best flea spray in our best flea sprays post because of their natural and effective approach. Their supplement includes yucca and white willow bar in addition to glucosamine and bromelain, a compound that has been found to have some correlation in treating joint pain symptoms.
While the tablets are chewable, they aren’t flavored in a particular way, so you might find that pairing them with Pill Pockets will help with dosing. The recommended dosage is twice per day as follows:
- Under 25 pounds: 1/2 tablet
- 25 to 50 pounds: 1 tablet
- 50 to 75 pounds: 1.5 tablets
- Over 75 pounds: 2 tablets
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 250 mg
Price: $5.59 for 50 tablets — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
3. Infinite Pet Supplements All-Natural Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs
Another liver-flavored chewable tablet, this option pairs a moderate dose of glucosamine with chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM, a sulfur compound said to reduce inflammation), and a healthy dose of turmeric. Limited research supports the idea that the curcumin in turmeric (yes, the same spice found in curries) has an anti-inflammatory effect in both animals and humans. Given its relative safety and common presence in food, it’s probably worth trying as far as supplements go.
Additionally, this formula uses glucosamine sulfate, which is suggested to be more readily effective than the glucosamine hydrocholride variant. Dosage recommendation for this formulation is one tablet per 25 pounds of body weight per day, with dogs under 15 pounds receiving half a tablet. Because of the turmeric, the manufacturer suggests that some dogs may be reluctant to eat it at first even despite the liver flavor, so again, Pill Pockets could be useful.
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 250 mg
Price: $29.47 for 90 tablets — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
4. Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus MSM Joint Health for Dogs
While Nutramax offer a number of supplements particularly aimed at joint health, this is the maximum strength option, featuring 600 milligrams of glucosamine, 300 milligrams of chondroitin, and 250 milligrams of MSM per tablet. Aside from a small amount of manganese, there are no other, perhaps more folksy, treatments included — just a high dose of the compounds reportedly effective in combating cartilage loss.
A recommended “administration period” of four to six weeks roughly doubles the normal dose, which follows:
- Under 15 pounds: 1/2 tablet every other day
- 16 to 30 pounds: 1 /2 tablet daily
- 31 to 60 pounds: 1 tablet daily
- Over 60 pounds: 1-2 tablets daily
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 600 mg
Price: $59.94 for 250 tablets — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
5. Doggie Dailies Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement for Dogs
These chicken-flavored chews combine a relatively low dose of glucosamine with a supporting cast of compounds that are all indicated as useful in combating cartilage loss. In addition to the usual ingredients of MSM and chondroitin, you’ll find hyaluronic acid, which is used both for joint health in work horses and in cosmetic injectable fillers because of its ability to encourage regrowth of collagen in the skin.
There’s also coenzyme Q10, which aids in the conversion of food to energy and slows cell death as an antioxidant. In humans, it has been shown to help with heart conditions thanks to increased cellular energy production. Salmon and cod liver oil are also included as their omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation.
The price per chew is lower, but the recommended dosing suggests multiple chews per day according to the following outline:
- Under 15 pounds: 1 chew
- 15 to 30 pounds: 2 chews
- 30 to 45 pounds: 3 chews
- 45 to 60 pounds: 4 chews
- 60 to 75 pounds: 5 chews
- Over 75 pounds: 6 chews
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 100 mg
Price: $33.97 for 225 chews (32 percent off MSRP) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
6. VetriScience Laboratories GlycoFlex 3
Part of a three-step system that includes GycoFlex 1 and GlycoFlex 2, GlycoFlex 3 is the maximum strength offering that combines a strong dose of glucosamine with MSM and the company’s own branded version of green-lipped mussel.
The bivalve is a natural source of a combination of fatty acids not readily available from other sources and is especially effective in conjunction with the more popular compounds also found in this treatment. With the help of your vet, choose the stage which best suits your dog’s current condition. Other active ingredients include vitamin C, manganese, selenium, and vitamin E.
Like Cosequin DS, the manufacturer suggests a ramp-up dosage as follows:
- Up to 30 pounds: 1 chew daily
- 31 to 60 pounds: 2 chews daily
- 61 to 100 pounds: 4 chews daily
- Over 101 pounds: 5 chews daily
After the initial period, the recommended maintenance dose is:
- Up to 30 pounds: 1 chew every other day
- 31 to 60 pounds: 1 chew daily
- 61 to 100 pounds: 2 chews daily
- Over 101 pounds: 3 chews daily
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 1,000 mg (two chews)
Price: $28.81 for 120 chews (26 percent off MSRP) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
7. TerraMax Pro Hip & Joint Advanced Supplement for Dogs
If you’re finding it difficult to get your dog to take chews every day, you might consider the novel approach of a liquid formula. By adding a number of teaspoons of the product to your dog’s water, you can easily give them their daily dose without their noticing. The formula uses glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, manganese, and hyaluronic acid.
The MSM used is a proprietary formulation, which is advertised by the manufacturer as being more readily absorbed. At any rate, as with liquid versions of medicine for humans, it seems that uptake will be quicker with this than with something that needs to be digested fully to work. Whether or not either thing is true, the easy application is something to consider and should be dosed according to the following guidelines:
- Under 10 pounds: 1/2 teaspoon daily
- 10 to 24 pounds: 1 teaspoon daily
- 25 to 49 pounds: 1 teaspoons in the morning, 1 in the evening
- 50 to 100 pounds: 2 teaspoons in the morning, 1 in the evening
- Over 100 pounds: 2 teaspoons in the morning, 2 in the evening
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 2,600 mg (per ounce)
Price: $69.97 for 32 ounces (15 percent off MSRP) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
8. The Missing Link Ultimate Hip, Joint & Coat Dog Supplement
Like the liquid above, this supplement uses a non-tablet, non-chew form to deliver the goods. This one, however, is powdered, which means you can easily add it to your dog’s meal or mix it with peanut butter to make dosing easy. Glucosamine is the main attraction here, with additional help provided by the omega 3s in ground flaxseed. The one pound supply is enough for a 50 pound dog for 80 days according to the following dosage guidelines:
- 25 pounds: One teaspoon daily
- 50 pounds: Two teaspoons daily
- 75 pounds: Three teaspoons daily
- 100 pounds: Four teaspoons daily
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 400 to 510 mg per tablespoon
Price: $20.28 for one pound (15 percent off MSRP) — eligible for Subscribe & Save via Amazon
9. Pure Paw Nutrition Premium Liquid Glucosamine
Following the lead of the TerraMax, this Pure Paw formulation also comes in liquid form with a couple of compelling improvements. For one thing, the bottle itself is a pump dispenser, which makes dosing easy. This particular supplement mixes ingredient formulations seen in others on this list in a slightly more complete way.
It uses the glucosamine sulfate variant, as well as MSM, chondroitin, coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, and manganese, among other vitamins for a well-rounded solution. Available in bacon, natural, and original blend, this is meant to be pumped onto food, rather than put in water. The dosage per weight is the same as the TerraMax, with one pump equalling one teaspoon:
- Under 10 pounds: 1 pump daily
- 10 to 24 pounds: 2 pumps daily
- 25 to 49 pounds: 2 pumps in the morning, 1 in the evening
- 50 to 100 pounds: 2 pumps in the morning, 2 in the evening
- Over 100 pounds: 3 pumps in the morning, 3 in the evening
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 1,600 mg (per ounce)
Price: $39.95 for 32 ounces (43 percent off MSRP)
10. Project Paws Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs
If you like your pet products with a side of social usefulness (like donating a dollar or two at Petco or Petsmart when you check out), this product offers something the others don’t — with every purchase, the company donates 14 meals to shelter dogs. These bacon-flavored soft chews feature a healthy dose of glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and turmeric.
In addition, black pepper extract is added as a digestive aid, and flaxseed meal is included for omega 3s. The dosing guide is straightforward and each container will last 60 days for dogs up to 25 pounds. The dosage per day for each weight are as follows:
- Up to 25 pounds: 2 chews
- 26 to 75 pounds: 3 chews
- Over 75 pounds: 4 chews
Amount of glucosamine per unit: 350 mg
Price: $29.99 for 120 chews (17 percent off MSRP)